The Brown Camp Lofts were BlueSky Studio’s first large renovation project outside of Colorado. The Lofts came to life in the old Brown Camp Hardware Company warehouse which once stored and sold door and window hardware. The structural frame of the building was concrete columns and beams, with in fill wood plank decking as flooring on the first few floors. The top floor was a heavy timber wood frame post and beam system. The outside of the building expressed this inner structure and was within view of several buildings in lower downtown that mirrored this design; the town of course wished to maintain this historic appearance.
Prior to their release, previous design teams renovated the flooring system in the future entryway to create a five story open element. BlueSky Studio brought this large open space to life by designing a curved metal clad wall that acted as a knife to carve up the volume for a lobby. We massed the windows in the concrete frame, removed in-fill brick, and reinstalled windows in the outer wall so that people taking the elevator up would get a beautiful view of downtown Des Moines as the elevator doors opened.
A challenge in the design process was weather related. Because of the rainy climate, we needed very durable exterior finishes on all of the balconies. We used galvanized metals, plus, all of the exposed steel on the outside section was dipped in molten zinc. The dark brown brick and the gray concrete mixed with the gray of the galvanized steel would work together to maintain the industrial feel of an urban resident project. Other challenges on this project included: meeting the projects budget requirements, establishing a relationship with the Iowa contractors, running the job from out of state, and importing this somewhat new building type into Des Moines. We were able to tap into our years of experience with historic preservation, take from lessons learned in Denver and successfully negotiate with the City of Des Moines to revitalize this 100 year old abandon warehouse building. The newly renovated industrial lofts not only provided much needed downtown housing but also, became a beautiful and beneficial part of the community.