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Part of the existing museum site in Greenwood Park

Index to Projects in Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa

Gross Floor Area
21,300 s/f

Edmundson Art Foundation, Inc.,
Des Moines, Iowa

Time Frame
Planning: 3/66–
Construction: 1/67–
Completion: 9/68

Des Moines Art Center Addition

Des Moines, Iowa
Completed 1968


Lead Designer:



I. M. Pei


Museum expansion building

Click on image to enlarge

This expansion building, intended for the exhibition of sculpture, was undertaken to complete and enhance the original museum completed by Eliel Saarinen in 1947. The challenge was to reconcile two generations of architecture without compromising either.

A circulation loop was established by inserting a rectangular wing at the open end of the U-shaped building. A deep stagnant pond was reconfigured as a shallow reflecting pool and resurfaced with radial cobblestones around Carl Milles's Pegasus and Bellerophon. Trees were planted in the courtyard, and new infrastructure and climate controls were installed.

The design strategy was one of intimate integration. Executed in architectural concrete, the wing was bushhammered to expose aggregates specially selected to complement the existing building. It continues the museum's single-story massing around the central pool, but maximizes a change of grade on the opposite side to incorporate an auditorium and double-height gallery that looks out to the surrounding park. The landscape is framed by large glazed planes protected from the southern sun by deep reveals. The upper gallery, designed for large installations, is illuminated by a sculptural V-shaped monitor. The building was designed throughout to create an environment enriched, like the sculpture it houses, by changing patterns of natural light and the interaction of solids and voids.


Major Components

2-story lower sculpture court (1,760 s/f), upper sculpture court (5,000 s/f), West Gallery, 240-seat auditorium, pool / terrace




American Institute of Architects:
National Honor Award


I. M. Pei & Associates services

Architectural Design; Interior Design of public spaces; coordination with associate architect on construction documents and construction administration


Associate Architect

Pederson, Hueber, Hares & Glavin



R.R. Nicolet & Associates, Montreal, Canada


Mechanical / Electrical

Robson & Woese, Inc., Syracuse, NY



Photo credits

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