Substance Architecture


Central Library

Des Moines, Iowa

Located at the east end of the Western Gateway Park, the new main library acts as a link between downtown Des Moines and the park. The project is designed by David Chipperfield Associates of London, England.

The unconventional building shape acts in two ways, on one hand responding to the city block, and simultaneously stretching out into the park. This creates an effect of floating in the surrounding landscape and creating outside spaces of different character, while conveying to the visitor the feeling of sitting in the park while reading a book.

The 150,000 square foot, two-story concrete structure sits above lower level parking and is entirely wrapped in a diaphanous glass skin of an energy efficient glazing system which incorporates a copper mesh within the insulated glass. The copper mesh filters the daylight to protect the collection from ultraviolet radiation and creates a unique, ever-changing exterior character within the park and from the adjacent streets.


Silver Medal, 2007
Building Design & Construction Building

Best Regeneration Project, 2006
European LEAF Award

Merit Award, 2006
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region


Architecture, July 2006
Architect Review, June 2006

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