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Hidden Mies van der Rohe Office Building Will Get $10M Renovation in Iowa

This hidden gem will be restored to its original brilliance

The Catholic Pastoral Center is an unassuming black box of a building that sits at the corner of Grand and 6th Avenues in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Though this three-story steel-and-glass structure has seen better days, it's admired by local architects and history buffs. The reason? Master architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed it—and in 1962, it opened as the Home Federal Savings and Loan building.


It was the first modernist building in the area, and over 50 years later, this gem will undergo a much-needed $10 million renovation, the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines announced. Funding will come in the form of a capital campaign that already raised $5 million, a fundraising campaign with a goal of $3 million, and tax credits that could be worth up to $2 million. Scheduled to begin in the fall, the renovation will involve basic building maintenance including lighting, heating, and plumbing, the restoration of the steel facade, and window replacement. It will also cover a hole in the side of a building where a skywalk was once located.

The Catholic Pastoral Center, which is home to 71 employees, features many of Mies van der Rohe's signature details, including floor-to-ceiling windows, vertical steel beams that line the exterior, a plaza, and a glass atrium on the first floor. A motif of squares can be found throughout the structure.

This project follows the restoration of another modernist treasure located a couple blocks away. The American Republic building, which opened in 1965, just wrapped up a $30 million renovationlast year. A Des Moines Register story from that period dubbed the complimentary nature of the two structures an "Axis of Beauty."