Substance Architecture


The Randolph

Des Moines, Iowa

The Hotel Randolph housing project combines three buildings into one complex of 55 market-rate apartment units above what will likely be several high-profile retail projects. With architecture dating back to the 1880’s, this historic corner at Fourth and Court Avenue is seen as an essential restoration project for downtown Des Moines. Central to this development is the 8-story Hotel Randolph. As a historic hotel, the Randolph served visitors coming and going along the main railroad hub of Court Avenue from 1910 throughout the heyday of railroad transportation. As times changed and downtown Des Moines moved away from a transportation and retail hub, the hotel also evolved into a weekly and monthly venue meeting more permanent housing needs.

Circumstances could have easily led to the demolition of the Randolph, as was the fate of more than a half dozen downtown hotels over the past half century, if it were not for the owners commitment to downtown and the hotel’s modification to weekly and monthly housing. Still, time took its toll on the Randolph and its neighbors, which is why many feel it is now critical to revitalize this block before it is too late to save these historic buildings. Retail and restaurants already in planning will occupy the 16-foot high restored street level. Fifty-five efficiency, one and two-bedroom apartments fill the eight upper floors. Care has been taken to create different layouts responding to downtown demographic needs. From ingeniously efficient small apartments envisioned for young singles or physically impaired tenants, to spacious two-bedroom/two-bathroom units envisioned for “roommates” living together, this project uniquely accommodates a demographic many feel is lacking for new downtown housing.

Historic restoration coupled with sensitive adaptive reuse are hallmarks of what will undoubtedly be a successful project transforming a crucial block of downtown Des Moines into a stylish, energetic addition to Fourth Street and the Court Avenue Entertainment District.


Citation Award in Historic Preservation, 2018
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region

Preservation At Its Best Design Award, 2016
Preservation Iowa

© 2022 substance architecture. All rights reserved.