Principal Riverwalk Pump Station

Architect: substance

Owner: City of Des Moines

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Category: Under 5,000 square feet (category three)

The creation of this facility has literally led to the renewal of Des Moines' Historic District and, in concert with the Café Pavilion, it frames a popular public space along the river.

A pump station is usually a perfunctory piece of urban infrastructure used during flood events. In this instance, however, the architect was asked to create a pump station that was sympathetic with the Principal Riverwalk –a $50 million development along the Des Moines River. The resulting design created two objects –a Pump House and a Gate Valve Platform -that work with a neighboring Café Pavilion to frame an understandable place. The Pump House is a formal foil to this Café –sharing a formal language and material palette of black zinc and steel. The Gate Valve platform became a glowing, translucent object atop a cast in place concrete base. Together, the Pump House and Gate Valve Platform flank a recreation trail marking the entry to street level. The architect worked with artist, Jun Kaneko, to integrate a glass mural, Expansion, mounted to the north face of the Pump House.

"An excellent example of the impact you can have by paying attention to necessary infrastructure." ~ Jury comment

Additional information

General contractor: Larson and Larson  

Engineer - civil and structural: Veenstra & Kimm (V&K)


Carolyn Adams, AIA (Chair), Carolyn Adams Architecture PLLC, Kirkland, Washington

Michael Antenora, AIA, Antenora Architects LLP, Austin, Texas  

Steve Kordalski, AIA, Kordalski Architects Inc., Cleveland, Ohio

Brandon Frazier Pace, AIA, Sanders Pace Architecture LLC, Knoxville, Tennessee

Elizabeth Whittaker, AIA, Merge Architects, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

Image credits

07_Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

02 Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

03_Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

04_Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

06_Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

05_Pump Staion_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby

01_Pump Station_Photo Paul Crosby

Paul Crosby