112 E. Washington Street

Through sensitive demolition and re-calibration, this small mixed-use project leverages a century-old commercial building’s capacity for re-use. The dynamic result enlivens an urban neighborhood by embracing history, engaging the street, and fostering a vibrant tenant mix.

A glazed, black-anodized aluminum storefront supports the bulk of the existing masonry above. The storefront’s carefully considered composition, emphatically modern, conforms to the upper façade’s historic proportions and bay rhythms. Its glass expanse gathers views into the naturally lit, warmly tactile interior. Throughout the renovation, a culling of framing and finishes highlights the building’s eccentric old masonry shell. Reset floor levels and strategically threaded connections usher in light, air, and views.

The building accommodates two tenants. A retail business operates the ground floor and basement, while the second and third floors invite live/work occupation. The new ground floor, set slightly above sidewalk level, lends head height to what had been a compressed basement. A broad gap at the storefront establishes a bridge-like entry while admitting light to the lower floor and introducing verticality to its tight quarters. Both levels now breathe together as programmable space. On the live/work floors above, a perforated bent-steel stair anchors the layout and provides visual continuity. The addition of a third floor and rooftop patio provides a lofty perch above the city’s vibrant streetscape.

Project Type



Iowa City, Iowa


4,000 SF (renovated)