Just off Main Street in historic downtown Ames, Iowa sat an Art Deco style bank whose integrity had been compromised after years of parceled tenantship and renovations. That was until 2015 when a local architecture firm, HAILA Architecture | Structure | Planning, decided to reclaim the local landmark for their own office. Their effort was ultimately honored with a 2016 City of Ames Award for Historic Preservation for Adaptive Reuse.
The 3,900 square foot building was initially constructed in 1941 by architect Moorman & Company for the Stafford Bank which later became Ames Savings and Trust Bank. Its defining features were its voluminous sixteen foot tall center lobby, its glass block windows on the north facade, and its cream and green colored terrazzo floor. Decades later the bank was sold, partition walls and floor coverings were installed over the original terrazzo floor and the ceiling was lowered to 9 feet, and a north window was converted into an entrance.
With the help of a $75,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority as well as an $11,000 City of Ames Façade Grant, HAILA was able to restore the original grandeur of the bank space while also introducing new elements that reflected an architect’s studio. Relying on historic photography, the process began by returning the interior’s proportions back to their original design by gutting all non-original features and finishes. Similarly, an effort was made to restore the rhythm of the exterior façade by replacing the non-original exit door with a replicated window.
A number of original construction features were also re-purposed through creative solutions. This included the reuse of quite a few doors and salvage of the original vestibule marble wainscot which was refinished and repurposed into new kitchenette counter tops. HAILA also interjected modern finishes and design elements that told the history and character of the original building. Glass screen walls, that line the studio space, depict abstracted black & white historical photography of the building in its original form.
Glass also enabled the re-purposing once private spaces into open or semi-private areas. On the main level, the two offices that flanked the entry were converted into a conference room, administrative assistant work area, and office space through the inclusion of screen walls. On the mezzanine level, the window overlooking the office was expanded to add to a greater sense of collaboration and daylight.
With less than a 7% vacancy rate, the historic downtown of Ames, is one of the most active and economically stable in the nation. The presence of HAILA office brings creative, high paying, high-tech jobs to the Main Street Cultural District. HAILA is also able to build relationships with local Iowa State University by employing students, many who come from the greater region. Additionally, the location’s proximity to the City of Ames Chamber of Commerce and City Hall enables multiple members of HAILA to be involved with city boards and commissions.