BNIM Architects

Recognitions: AIA Iowa 2020 Design Award

Project Description

Miesblock is a speculative development adjacent to the historic Mies van der Rohe Catholic Pastoral Center, formerly the Home Federal Savings and Loan building constructed in 1962. The original Mies building and new adjacent Miesblock development reside in the urban core of Des Moines, Iowa. The initial phase of Miesblock consists of a three-story mixed-use office and retail building and separate “Node” structure that provides for a vertical public connection to the existing skywalk system of Des Moines. The new office and retail building is organized as a simple container rooted in the module Mies established for the original building and property. The module and dimensions of the original building inform the vertical dimensions and lines of the new structure as well as the rigor and craft of the precast, glass, and metal plate envelope. The street level restaurant space incorporates full height curtainwall wrapping the building along the south pedestrian face, the east face along the existing Mies plaza, and along the west face extending to the main entrance lobby for the upper two floors. A perforated metal veil unifies the upper floors of Miesblock along its most public southern faces immediately above the street-level curtainwall. The scrim provides solar control, biophilic light quality, and identity to the building. The organic figuring that skates across the rigid module is intentionally abstract. It is derived from a single hand-drawn river and mountain map of Germany, circa 1893. This concept and design of the scrim element emerged in close collaboration with the client, who conceived of incorporating themes referencing the Bauhaus into the scrim. Each directional face of the building centered on a city in which the Bauhaus existed – Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin – a nod to the history it compliments.