CRST Center

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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An eleven-story multi-tenant corporate headquarters makes a modern statement in a Midwestern city’s skyline, simultaneously taking cues from its location along the river and surrounding traditional historic structures. The massing strategically off-sets the tower from a three-story screened parking deck below to maintain visual separation and sightlines from a neighboring office tower. This also lifts the structure above the river floodplain and solidifies its stature within the downtown context.

A cantilevered glass box on the fourth floor extends over the river to offer panoramic views of the city’s west side, including the fronting river island, which, like the Parisian Île de la Cités, is home to the county courthouse and jail. Eight smaller terraces stacked vertically along the tower’s west face also reach out to the river. A white metal folded plate unifies the buildings two halves — the sunshaded, glazed façade reflecting the river on the west and the terracotta ribbons paying homage to the historic brick structures on the east. This unifying element also strikes an edge in the skyline referencing the cornices ornamenting the roof lines of the nearby historic buildings.

The building program capitalizes on the duality of the location, optimizing views to both the river and downtown. A fourth-floor inset terrace wraps around three sides of the tower, physically connecting the mid-rise to the rest of the business core. All of the cantilevered forms and terrace voids are uplit at night to create a glow visible from all vantages across the river, including a popular outdoor amphitheater.

Inspired by the building owner’s career in ground transportation, the central stair, room dividers, walls, light fixtures, and flooring are all organized at a three-degree angle to allude to the shifting network of highways across the country.  The sole organic shape, a Venetian plaster ellipse in the ceiling above the reception area, opens to the second floor where it is repeated in the inverse to support visual connectivity between the floors.

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