Substance Architecture

DART Central Station

Des Moines, Iowa

The new Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) Central Station consolidates all of DART’s transfer functions on to one site located on the southern edge of downtown Des Moines. The site was selected for its ability to create a southern gateway into downtown Des Moines and to develop a synergy with adjacent transit oriented building(s), the historic railroad depot, and to spur redevelopment in this area of Des Moines. Further goals for the project include:

• Transfer platforms for 15 vehicles.

• Covered walkways for customers to transfer between vehicles.

• A safe place for customers and DART employees.

• A climate controlled interior customer waiting area.

• Customer Service offices on-site to improve the level of service for customers.

• Administrative offices for DART staff on-site.

• A sustainable facility designed to maximize energy efficiency.

• Iconic project that establishes a positive image for DART within the community.

Site layout was designed to maximize the efficiency of moving vehicles and people into and through the facility in the safest way possible. A ‘safe’ pedestrian zone is clearly established at the entrance to the administrative building into the customer waiting area then extending through the site connecting the transfer platforms. The safe zone is covered by a large ‘iconic’ canopy. The canopy not only provides protection but also establishes a recognizable and powerful image for DART against the skyline of downtown Des Moines. Transfer platforms are fully covered by smaller scale canopies that protect customers from the elements. Additionally these canopies incorporate skylights that use Photovoltaic glass that allow daylight to illuminate the areas under the canopy and generate electricity for the facility.

The two-story building creates a strong contextural streetscape that ties this development and future developments on adjacent sites into the historic Court Avenue area located to the east of this location. The building is designed as a glass enclosed structure that is wrapped and protected by an extension of the canopies that protect the customers on the transfer platforms.

This project received LEED® Platinum status in September 2013.

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography and Ben Easter


American Architecture Award, 2015
Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture, Art and Design

National Certificate of Recognition, 2015
IDEAS2 Awards, American Institute of Steel Construction

Merit Award, 2014
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter

Environmental Impact Award, 2013
Center on Sustainable Communities


Iowa Architect, Winter 2015
Iowa Architect, Spring 2014
Iowa Architect, Spring 2013
Iowa Architect, Fall 2012

© 2022 substance architecture. All rights reserved.