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Des Moines Community Playhouse

The Des Moines Community Playhouse has been a beloved pillar in the community since 1919, growing into the second largest community theatre in the U.S. with more than 55,000 annual attendees. With this success, the Playhouse sought to renovate and expand its historic structure to accommodate education program growth and attendance with a two-phase design.

The first phase creates a new transparent glass lobby, which allows passersby to view activities inside and glows at night as an active component of the street life. It is a hub of interaction bringing the culture of the theater closer to the community: a gathering area for performances; a venue for smaller events, a place for communication about future events and a flexible classroom. While the delicate glass lobby is modern, the team honored the 1934 structure by keeping much of the original stonework, knitting the history of the community with its bright future.

Award Name

2014 Honor Award




Des Moines, IA

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