Court Center

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Opportunity knocked to put top-tier restaurants + bars on Court Avenue + elevate the entertainment standard of an area that still had yet to recover from the devastating floods of 1993. We saw the need to work out the service/patron path + flow for a multiple-venue facility while respecting the historic fabric of the building (aka the old Nacho Mama’s location).


As we developed the “shell + core” design, we assisted potential bar/restaurant owners with design ideas. In the end, we designed 5 unique entertainment venues + accessory space: A.K. O’Connor’s, Legends American Grill, Liars Club, People’s Court + Taft’s. We developed acoustical floor assemblies to minimize noise transfer from venue to venue. Our firm helped develop state + federal tax credit applications. We received approvals from Iowa SHPO + NPS for historic window replacement/repair, canopy design, stair design + tenant build-outs under very tight time constraints.


Court Center was one of the first new entertainment establishments to open in downtown Des Moines. Immediately its variety of venues under one roof became a destination. The bar crowd started to migrate from the suburbs back to downtown, drawn to the street life + activity at the corner of Court + 3rd. Since then, more restaurants, shops + residents have populated the Court Avenue Entertainment District, leading to an increase in outdoor events + festivals.