On the west edge of the State of Iowa Capitol Grounds at 709 East Locust sits a modest, yet historically significant row house that was built in 1894 in the historically known neighborhood of East Fort Des Moines. The rowhouse, Norden Hall, is one of the last standing row houses in town and will be spared demolition as a result of the dedication of Christensen Development working with city and state level stakeholders. The plan is to move Norden Hall from the west entry of the Capitol grounds to a new site at 425 E. Grand at the corner of E. 4th and E. Grand in the East Village.
In the past several months, we have been working closely with Jake Christensen, the developer, to plan for the rehabilitation of the row house, secure state historic tax credits and coordinate the relocation. We are proud to be a part of preserving the historic fabric of our community, as well as, excited to rediscover Norden Hall’s potential as part of the East Village of Des Moines.
The demolition of the west adjacent building, 707 E. Locust, has been completed and now the rowhouse is waiting for the new site to be ready. The big move is scheduled for mid-to-late September and we hope that everyone will come out and join us to watch the historic move.
Two years ago, before we knew much about identity or even considered re-branding ge WATTIER architecture, we had a desire to more clearly define what we want to do in our work and how we want to connect with clients interested in the same things. We took our own discovery | visioning process (now pullback) that we use to begin the design process with our clients and turned the focus on ourselves.
After a few sessions where we spoke vaguely about design, values, process and clients, we knew we had to dig deeper and get personal. Almost naively and certainly optimistically, we asked, “What if we could drill down to 2-3 words that describe why we do what we do? Why do we get up in the morning?” We each took a week on our own to develop our own individual answers and then brought the team back together.
Vague descriptions were out and bold clarity took the wheel. As a team, we sought the force that moves us to strive for great design solutions and to engage with our community and clients : our drivers. We distilled, debated, combined, questioned and pushed until we were left with only the meat.
At Slingshot Architecture, our drivers are the heart of our purpose, but more importantly our approach to people. make sense, serve, mean it.
Old Town Sevastepol is an urban neighborhood with a faded identity. At one time it was a community with a centered on a vibrant neighborhood commercial street that supported several blocks of surrounding single family residences. The primary industry of the area was coal mining, but it is a short trip downtown for work as well.
Over time, the storefronts have been infilled for office or residential uses and now several buildings on the commercial block are unused and falling into disrepair. The anchor or the street, B&B Grocery, has maintained it’s place in the community over several generations. Originally it was one of many functioning shops, but now is an island on a widened, busy and not pedestrian friendly SE 6th Street.
The Neighborhood Development Corporation seeks to build up the urban neighborhoods of Des Moines by invigorating the neighborhood pedestrian commercial properties and inserting quality residential opportunities. This project will be mixed-use at a modest scale in order to tie in cohesively to the existing commercial buildings of first floor storefront and second floor residential. We will insert pedestrian corridors that make the neighborhood more walkable and connect green spaces.
The goal is to provide a spark to the commercial corridor by punctuating it with a strong and active node. The test of success lies beyond the leasing of this building to the point in the near future where the storefronts down the street begin opening up again with the next generation of shops.
The project is currently under construction and we will have updates on design and construction on the blog and twitter. Also follow the project at the NDC facebook page.
Today we begin a new chapter in the life of our architectural firm. Over the past ten years, we have been very blessed to work on many amazing projects in Des Moines, around Iowa and in other locations. As we roll out some changes and clarity to who we are and how we desire to provide work, it is a good time to share with you a few key thoughts that have become clear and unmistakeable to me.
Although I’m not a native of Iowa, Des Moines has become my home due to the people I’ve been fortunate enough to know through work and outside of work. Thank you to all of you that have guided and pushed me to pursue my architectural dreams. Thank you to all of you who invited me to assist you with your architectural needs and provided us with several great opportunities.
I have an absolutely amazing family. Thank you mom for being an integral member of our team for several years. Your dedication and support was immeasurable. Thank you Tony and Riley for not only allowing me to pursue my passion, but your understanding when I too often chose poorly and put my work ahead of you two. Sandi, none of this would have been possible without your commitment, strength and strong love. Thank you. I hope all four of you can share in the success and pride of today because it would not have happened without you.
As for the firm itself, it’s clear “its just bigger than me now”. Our office studio is a group of amazing people that share similar life and work drivers with me. Our drivers are embedded in our Process and Purpose. Our Purpose is very simple. We need and expect Meaning in our work. If we rigorously Serve our Clients and provide processes and solutions that Make Sense, we will find and deliver Meaning. Our Process is threefold. We Pull Back so we can clearly identify a project, generate Momentum to define solutions and strive to make Impact.
Regarding our drivers, I must point out it has been difficult yet simple and very rewarding, to clearly identify them as a result of the dedicated work Justin, John and Adam at 8|7 Central did to “discover” our firm. They also created all our new, very personal, graphics and firm materials. Besides their never ending great work, we also now have three new friends and accomplices in the battle to do meaningful design.
David Voss, Dan Drendel, John Bloom and Sandi Wattier have pushed, pulled and joined forces with me over the last many years. They are awesome and I truly value working with them and their friendships. Their leadership, expertise, maturity and desire to build our firm while impacting Des Moines have made it easy for me to recognize our firm is no longer about a single person name or even a group of names. The firm name must change so it is aligned with our Process and Purpose.
ge WATTIER Architecture is now Slingshot Architecture.