Des Moines Metro Opera
After 30 years operating out of a 108-year-old former Carnegie library building, an opera company embarked on a capital campaign to restore the original National Register of Historic Places building as well as expand with an addition that would allow for pre-function events, staff support spaces, and increased accessibility.
The opera had diligently maintained the building’s historic integrity, with the original building layout intact and only minor insertions above the height of original bookstacks. OPN worked with the organization to imagine an addition that would respect the history of the original building while meeting the modern-day needs of opera staff and after-hour community use.
The final concept is transparent glass jewel-box addition to the north side of the building that touches the original building as lightly as possible while reinforcing the main axis through both buildings. The proportions of the original building guided the layout and size of the new glass structural bays. On-site paint investigation revealed the original color scheme of the historic windows and was used on the addition to unify it with the original Carnegie library building.
Because the restoration received historic tax credits, the addition was located on the secondary facade to allow for the original entrance to remain intact. The original wood flooring was found under the layers of existing floor material and once again relates back to the history of the Carnegie library. All surfaces of the library building both interior and exterior were a part of this project. Designed to navigate level changes within a transparent connection, the addition reveals the original architecture, allows display of costuming, offers public gathering areas, creates a space for educational outreach and community engagement programs.
“We didn’t want to try to create a faux replica of history. The architecture of our period is different than that of 1904. Buildings of today should look like buildings of today and not try to fool the eye into thinking that something is historic when it isn’t.
– Michael Egel, General & Artistic Director
Des Moines Metro Opera engaged in a design and fundraising process prior to their addition and renovation project. DMMO’s successful capital campaign enabled them to realize their project as planned during the detailed schematic design process. OPN assisted in providing project visualization to aid in fundraising efforts, and also worked with the client to help secure historic tax credits to further stretch their dollars.