Fort Des Moines Phase I
Neumann Monson Architects
AIA Iowa Impact Award 2019
The lack of affordable housing on the southeast portion of the city, led the developer to pursue a reinvention of the 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).
Six grossly neglected historic structures – four army barracks and two horse stables – on 13 acres 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 serve 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 old structures to create a beautiful and unique place for living.