Fort Des Moines Phase I

Neumann Monson Architects

Recognitions: AIA Iowa Impact Award 2019

Project Description

A recent study indicated 31% of Des Moines residents are spending beyond their means for housing, which disproportionately affects renters. The lack of affordable housing on the southeast portion of the city, led Blackbird Investments to pursue a reinvention of Fort Des Moines, a former military base. The National Historic Landmark has a rich history as the nation’s first African-American officer training school (World War I), and the first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (World War II). It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1974. Six grossly neglected historic structures – four army barracks and two horse stables – have been restored and reinvigorated into a robust, walkable neighborhood. The first of three phases, this rehabilitation also serves as a catalyst for other developments in this under-valued portion of the city. All of the 142 one- and two-bedroom units meet the requirement of serving tenants at or below 60% of the area median income. Several important aspects make the Fort Des Moines site an excellent fit for affordable housing: • Proximity to major roads, bus routes, and vital amenities; • Large park-like green spaces uncommon in high-density, low-income housing; • The opportunity for subsequent phases to create a full neighborhood; • The unique opportunity to transform a historically significant site into an attractive and productive part of the city The project’s sustainable strategies align with the goals of providing affordable housing and creating a sustainable neighborhood. These tactics include: • A geothermal system that delivers efficient heating and cooling with individual controls; • Operable windows that deliver individually controlled natural ventilation; • Proximity to public transportation; • Stormwater bio-retention cells to filter stormwater run-off; • Preservation of over 50 existing historic trees The project also helps to eliminate the stigma associated with income-restricted housing by utilizing durable, historically significant 100-year