Location: Iowa City, Iowa, United States
Developer: Moen Group, LLC
Designer: Neumann Monson Architects
Site Size: 0.91 Acre
Located on a formerly vacant lot on the edge of a bustling pedestrian mall, Plaza Towers is the first multi-use tower of its kind in downtown Iowa City. The parcel sat empty since the 1970’s when it was acquired by the city for an urban renewal initiative. At that time, a parking lot replaced the existing buildings which were demolished. The City had high hopes for the site, wanting it to be the capstone of the renewal effort. Plaza Towers achieved that goal, but decades later than hoped.
Plaza Towers fronts Iowa City’s thriving pedestrian plaza and is activated with cultural events. With a grocery as its center of activity, the project introduced a variety of amenities. Grocery Manager Jessica Buser states, “Customers who live in the downtown area are our regulars. They come in every day and its part of our routine. This store is a community.” Other retail and commercial space (levels Ground-3) and non-student dwelling units (levels 7-13) to the heart of an urban, university community. Other provisions include an upscale, boutique hotel (levels 4-6, with the lobby at Ground level), as well as underground parking for residents.
The first three levels are open to the public. Occupying the ground floor are the hotel lobby, restaurant, and full-service grocery with deli and buffet. The grocery’s tempered arcade offers year-round casual dining and can be completely opened to engage with the adjacent plaza. A two-story, central lobby connects the various uses and offers the public an accessible shortcut from the City’s structured parking to the south to the plaza and public library to the north. On the second and third floors are professional office and conference space as well as a fitness center and roof terrace. While the lower levels remain engaged with the street and are to scale with the surrounding context, the west half of the upper floors are angled to preserve views from the adjacent hotel. The east half of the upper levels nestles back into the city’s grid – maintaining a setback above the third level.