Barnes’ Barns in the Grid of Des Moines

This studio will explore the typology of the industrial shed – a 60,000 square foot building – developed from a kit-of-parts assembly to accommodate adaptable agricultural uses combined with multifunctional community spaces. Individual buildings will collectively form a mixed-use urban farming precinct in Des Moines Iowa, a small city in the heartland of America. Situated between the scales and uses of regional industrial agriculture and the bottom-up urbanism of local farmers markets, the building will unite educational spaces with small scale farming operations. Following the tradition of visionary planning in Des Moines, the projects will frame a functional new urban region within the city, while cultivating an expanded civic realm in buildings and open spaces that contribute to the city’s ongoing evolution.

In 1990, Mario Gandelsonas presented the Des Moines Vision Plan. This elastic and evolving plan for the transformation of Des Moines continues to guide urban decisions more than thirty years later. The Vision Plan includes some projects that have been executed and others that have not yet been realized. One of these projects was The Farming Corridor, which took shape in 2015 as an extension of the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Our studio will explore the foundational tenets of this plan programmatically and urbanistically, as a prelude to the development of individual studio projects that together will form a collective precinct: a mixed-use agricultural corridor integrating farming as an extension of informal local markets in combination with educational spaces, all connected by shared green pathways and open space along a rail corridor on the south side of the urban core.

Each building will encompass a range of climatic environments, diverse envelope conditions, and temporal use scenarios, in relation to program criteria. Students will develop their project at three scales: from the urban, to the architectural, to the detail. We will develop a considered framework and evaluative metrics, including social utilization, embodied carbon, architectural quality, etc., which will form the basis of collective planning strategies to be implemented by each student in their individual project.