The Brenton

by Brent Schipper· July 24, 2023· in · 0 comments
The building was originally designed as a bank.  The Brenton Banks were a family owned chain of successful financial institutions known for embracing the formalism and narrative of modern architecture. The Brenton, as the building is now aptly named, is not simply modern.  It is New Formalism, a style which emerged in the 1960s as a rejection to the rigid form of Modernism.  The style represents one of many 20th century efforts to wed the building forms of the past with new forms enabled by new material technologies.  New Formalist buildings embraced many Classical precedents such as building proportion and scale, classical columns, highly stylized entablatures, and colonnades.   Here the style was representative of banking and business much like Neo Classism was the language of commerce for centuries before. The introduction of a residential program into a classically gridded temple of commerce had elements that inserted easily, but the introduction of foreign systems like increasing the number of plumbing fixtures ten-fold required careful consideration, especially at the Teller Lobby.  The lobby is a space critical to understanding the buildings hierarchy of space and structural grid.  The office areas at each end of the buildings were refitted to living units, including […]
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The redevelopment of the 75-year-old Phenix Elementary School into a 17-unit apartment building for local artists is a model for responsible historic preservation to better a community. The goal of this project was to help bolster the local art scene in Historic Valley Junction by linking the residential neighborhood to this blooming creative scene. The project consisted of the conversion of classrooms and offices into one, two and three-bedroom apartments and studio work spaces for artists. The Art Deco style of the building seems poetically suited for its new purpose in the community. The repurposing of this historic elementary school is a fundamental tack in preserving a historic Iowa neighborhood and making sound choices in use of an existing infrastructure to reconnect the residential and local art scenes. The completed building reinforces the live/work relationships found amongst local Des Moines artists for years to come. For residents of Phenix School Apartments, it’s the opportunity to curate artistic growth. What once was a trading and shipping post, Historic Valley Junction is now one of the main spots for artists to flourish in the Des Moines area. The project serves as an example of the success in building repurposing, but a special […]
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Marquette Hall Flats

by Brent Schipper· May 13, 2020· in · 0 comments
School bells were swapped for doorbells. The repurposing of the 1880 Marquette School into 28 affordable dwellings is a model for preserving an underutilized structure. A structure which was patinaed with over 100 years of constant use. The neighborhood was built around this structure and its use was gone, but the need for the its presence remained and a need for affordable housing in the community continued to grow. This project consisted of redesigning classrooms into one- and two-bedroom apartment units within the existing footprint of the building and without subdivision of the historic spaces. The original wood doors, grand stairs and beautiful floors were in excellent condition and are featured in the repurposing. The long and wide corridors, expansive use of glazing and are all preserved and allow the building to express its unique character and past and create extraordinary living environments in a new neighborhood created within an old neighborhood. The transformation is obvious, there was no attempt to “modernize”. The new use is allowed by the building structure, but it remains steadfast in representing it’s past. A classroom becomes a bedroom by purpose and furnishings. The corridors are now home to seating areas. The building has changed […]
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Bloomfield Public Library

by Brent Schipper· November 28, 2018· in · 0 comments
The library was a gift from the Carnegie Foundation steeped in heritage and its existing historic fabric was critical. The new addition had to echo this character. We closely read its past through photographs, learning its language. We then wrote a considered sequel. The new roof shrugs beneath the elder roof, a respectful gesture to the latter’s age. Inside new finishes and lighting carefully highlight important features of the old library while enlightening readers. A central entry hall binds the new program to the old structure while giving more visitors access. The project team closely observed every aspect, including a railing in the entry hall and the furniture that would fill the space; in this architecture, as in writing, the punctuation was as important as the narrative. It is a thoughtful extension to a repository of thought. Location: Bloomfield, IA Program: Public Client: City of Bloomfield Photo Credits: Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio
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Monroe Place Apartments

by Brent Schipper· November 21, 2018· in · 0 comments
School bells were swapped for doorbells. The redevelopment of the 1961 Monroe Elementary School into a 19-unit affordable housing apartment building is a model for preserving an underutilized structure, giving it a new lease on life while helping to solve an affordable housing shortage.  As the first school building in Cedar Rapids to be converted into housing, Monroe Place was designed with the surrounding neighborhoods and families in mind. This project consisted of redesigning classrooms into two, three, and four-bedroom apartment units within the existing footprint of the building and without subdivision of the historic spaces.  The repurposing of this historic elementary school is a fundamental precedent for preserving underused buildings and making sound choices in use of an existing infrastructure to strengthen Cedar Rapids communities. Monroe Place reinforces the existing relationship amongst the original 1961 elementary school and the adjacent neighborhood for years to come. For residents of Monroe Place, it’s the opportunity to live affordably in a uniquely designed yet familiar space. The school is awash in color with an original mural and ceramic tile, in many hues, lining the building’s corridors. Original wood doors, hallway tile and cubbies were still in excellent condition. The long and wide […]
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Captain Roy’s

by Brent Schipper· September 10, 2018· in · 0 comments
It was a shed. It had few distinguishing features.  There was a patina.  Some caused by fire, some caused by flood and still more caused by an unfortunate choice of paint. The shed seemed to have nothing, except a position. This position is defined as:                 In a park                 Along a bike trail                 Beside a river                 Near a marina To just a few, it was obvious that this was nirvana. A resurrection was required to make a position into a place. A food truck was to be the gravity to this position.  It was orange.  A fortunate choice of paint. The shed would protect the food truck, contain bathrooms and a bar. The site would be further defined by an asphalt floor dining room under strings of lights, a deck for thinking and drinking and a performance stage repurposed from an ailing pontoon boat. And bike racks. People came to the position.  They came by auto, boat, bike and motor bike.  They were fed from the food truck, served drinks from the shed and witnessed music emanating from a grounded pontoon craft.  The position is now a place called Captain Roy’s. The color choices have been fortunate. […]
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Kibbey Building

by Brent Schipper· November 29, 2017· in · 0 comments
The redevelopment of the Kibbey Building and its adjacent site is a model for small town Iowa main streets.  The project consisted of the insertion of 4 apartment units on the second floor of the structure and the redevelopment of the adjacent empty site into a community park. The project’s design was intended to preserve a historic fabric of Main Street.  Literally. The project serves as an example of the success in building repurposing, but as a special model in use of neglected and empty sites that erode the downtown fabric.  The park embraces the empty corner lot giving it life and purpose.   The public canopy supports PV panels used for lighting and power for irrigation pumps.  The irrigation system is an active way of conditioning storm water in the hardscape area of downtown and is fed by a storm water management cistern below the Kibbey parking lot.   The project is also an example that positive change can happen in small steps.  One small building and one bare lot are now making a difference to a community and serving as an example to many others.   Location: Marshalltown, Iowa Program: Housing, Residential, Preservation Client: Downtown Leases and Lofts, LLC. Photo […]
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The Roosevelt High School was built in 1888 in Clinton Iowa.  It had been patinaed with over 120 of constant use when the local school district deemed it too expensive to use and maintain. A developer who had decade before restored nearby Louis Sullivan building, sought out the building to give it new life as affordable housing.  She referred to the building as having great bones.  The architects were more than thrilled to help repurpose the building and without pause informed her that “those bones” were solid and ready for another hundred years. The challenges were numerous and the rules simple.  Respect. The charge of the design team was the insertion of 16 apartments within a school containing about 14,000-square feet and 7 classrooms and a large gathering area space while maintaining the integrity of the existing walls and spaces.  (Each unit containing a washer/dryer, individual HVAC units, bath and kitchen fans and no penetrations through the historic brick envelope.) The process utilized ALL historic walls and left the main hall unchanged.  The second floor utilized units with mezzanine level bedrooms to squeeze in all of the possible living area in while respecting the beautiful two-story window units.  A special […]
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State Theatre

by Brent Schipper· August 12, 2016· in · 0 comments
On November 27, 1893, The New Graham hosted its opening night in Washington, Iowa. The theatre replaced the original 1886 Graham Opera House that was destroyed in a fire on November 1892. Actress Clara Morris was listed on the playbill for her performance in “Odette” and performed to a sold out audience. Today, State Theatre—the name adopted in 1931—holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest continuously operating cinema theatre, having been in continuous operation since May 14, 1897. The first moving picture was shown on a cinematrographe that was made in Paris, France, and show tickets sold for 15, 25 and 35 cents each. While the theatre’s doors remained open throughout the years, time and a fire had damaged the community icon, and with the aid of historic tax credits and grants transferred through the city’s downtown revitalization group, State Theatre was restored back to its 1940’s look. Planning for exterior renovations of the 6,710 square foot building began in January 2011. Removal of the blonde storefront level brick added in the 1970s revealed the original arcade storefront. Special attention was paid to matching the original color, texture and color range of brick and mortar during masonry restoration. Other […]
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F.O. Eagles Building

by askstudio-wp_soho· August 12, 2016· in · 0 comments
The Fraternal Order of the Eagles building is again occupied after a dramatic restoration, transforming the empty building into office space and apartments for the residents of Perry, IA. Originally constructed in 1905, the building occupies a small but unique site on a block recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Highlights of the restoration include the reuse of oak kitchen cabinets and wood doors throughout the four, second-floor units, as well as the unveiling of a large skylight that had been roofed over in one unit. Oak room dividers with glass door cases were also retained and reused to mark the divide between dining and living areas. The building underwent accessibility upgrades, as well as significant restoration of exterior masonry and interior walls. Location: Perry, IA Program: Mixed-Use Client: Nudgers, Inc. Photo Credits: ASK Studio
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