From the decorative old architecture of Iowa’s historic buildings, to the sleek modern architecture of some of the newer structures in the state, Iowa has a bit of everything for people interested in architecture. Even if you’re not a design person, these 10 pieces of architectural brilliance will wow you.
1. The Figge Art Museum in Davenport
The Figge Art Museum was designed by Stirling Prize-winning modernist, British architect, David Chipperfield. The sleek, modern museum is just about as beautiful on the outside as the art on the inside is.
2. The University of Iowa Art Building West
Steven Holl, the brain behind the building, sought inspiration for this structure in Pablo Picasso’s 1912 sculpture, Guitar. The result was one of the foremost contemporary buildings on campus.
3. The Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens in downtown Des Moines
The Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens on the Des Moines riverfront is marked by gorgeous Asian-style pagodas, lanterns and rock formations, which make it an Eastern paradise right here in the Midwest.
4. The historic Dubuque Star Brewery building in Dubuque
The historic Dubuque Star Brewery building has a cool history as well as a cool exterior. The Dubuque Star Brewery was established in 1898. Until the beginning of the Prohibition, the brewery produced Dubuque Star beer. During prohibition, it was forced to close until the law was repealed in 1933.
5. The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines
The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates building used to be the Des Moines Public Library. The historic building retains its classic beauty but with an added twist of modern sustainability.
6. The High Trestle Bridge in Madrid
The High Trestle Trail is built on a former railroad bed, previously owned by Union Pacific Railroad.
The bridge was designed by Snyder & Associates, Shuck-Britson Inc., and Dahlquist Art Studios/ RDG Planning & Design. The modern, somewhat abstract piece of architecture is a popular favorite of bikers and walkers.
7. The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines
The Iowa State Capitol building was constructed between 1871–1886 by two architects named John Cochrane and Alfred Piquenard. It was designed around a modified and refined Renaissance style, and is the only five-domed capitol in the country.
8. The Dubuque County Courthouse in Dubuque
The Dubuque County Courthouse was built in 1891 to replace an earlier building that was built in 1839. Fridolin Heer was the architect for this project. Heer decided to use Beaux Arts Architecture - a large and grand style with a great amount of detail, large columns, elaborate moldings and free standing statuary in the design of the courthouse.
9. The Hindu Temple & Cultural Center of Iowa in Madrid
The Hindu Temple in Madrid is a beautiful cultural piece of architecture. The temple is adorned with decorative statues of deities that give viewers a chance to experience India without leaving the state.
10. The Grotto of Redemption in West Bend
It's impossible to talk about architecture in Iowa and not mention the Grotto of Redemption. The Grotto is pretty much an architectural anomaly. Father Paul Dobberstein was the architect behind this, though he wasn't an architect by trade. It all began when he became critically ill with pneumonia and promised to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary if she interceded for him. He got better and started collecting gems, rocks and precious stones. He began building the Grotto in 1912 and continued year round for 42 years. The Grotto is considered to be the world's most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place and is certainly a piece of architectural brilliance.
Have you seen all of these? What are some more architectural treasures in Iowa? Share your favorites with us in the comments section below!