Substance Architecture


U.S. Courthouse Restoration

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Flood of 2008 forever changed Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When the Cedar River crested on June 13, 2008, it extended well beyond the 500-year floodplain covering more than 10 square miles of the city. It flowed through nearly every downtown business and most public buildings, displacing city and county services.

substance coordinated the design and engineering services for the Federal Courthouse Building. This building, listed on the National Historic Register, received significant damage in the flood. Water reached a height of 52” above the first floor of the building, entirely submerging all of the mechanical equipment in the basement.

A detailed schedule was developed to expedite the design and procurement of the equipment necessary to stabilize the interior environment of the building. Once the interior environment was under control with new mechanical and electrical equipment, the public spaces of the building were cleaned and renovated in a manner that restores the spaces to the pre-flood condition and to the condition documented in the Historic Building Preservation Plan prepared in 1995. Lastly, the improvements to the tenant spaces affected by the flood were remodeled to the pre-flood conditions.


Citation in Preservation, 2010
U.S. General Services Administration

The American Architecture Award, 2011
Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design & The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies


Iowa Architect, 10:273

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