February 22, 2017



Just off Main Street in historic downtown Ames, Iowa sat an Art Deco style bank whose integrity had been compromised after years of parceled tenantship and renovations. That was until 2015 when a local architecture firm, HAILA Architecture | Structure | Planning, decided to reclaim the local landmark for their own office.  Their effort was ultimately honored with a 2016 City of Ames Award for Historic Preservation for Adaptive Reuse.

The 3,900 square foot building was initially constructed in 1941 by architect Moorman & Company for the Stafford Bank which later became Ames Savings and Trust Bank. Its defining features were its voluminous sixteen foot tall center lobby, its glass block windows on the north facade, and its cream and green colored terrazzo floor. Decades later the bank was sold, partition walls and floor coverings were installed over the original terrazzo floor and the ceiling was lowered to 9 feet, and a north window was converted into an entrance.

With the help of a $75,000 Main Street Iowa Challenge Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority as well as an $11,000 City of Ames Façade Grant, HAILA was able to restore the original grandeur of the bank space while also introducing new elements that reflected an architect’s studio. Relying on historic photography, the process began by returning the interior’s proportions back to their original design by gutting all non-original features and finishes.  Similarly, an effort was made to restore the rhythm of the exterior façade by replacing the non-original exit door with a replicated window.

A number of original construction features were also re-purposed through creative solutions. This included the reuse of quite a few doors and salvage of the original vestibule marble wainscot which was refinished and repurposed into new kitchenette counter tops. HAILA also interjected modern finishes and design elements that told the history and character of the original building. Glass screen walls, that line the studio space, depict abstracted black & white historical photography of the building in its original form.

Glass also enabled the re-purposing once private spaces into open or semi-private areas. On the main level, the two offices that flanked the entry were converted into a conference room, administrative assistant work area, and office space through the inclusion of screen walls. On the mezzanine level, the window overlooking the office was expanded to add to a greater sense of collaboration and daylight.

With less than a 7% vacancy rate, the historic downtown of Ames, is one of the most active and economically stable in the nation. The presence of HAILA office brings creative, high paying, high-tech jobs to the Main Street Cultural District. HAILA is also able to build relationships with local Iowa State University by employing students, many who come from the greater region. Additionally, the location’s proximity to the City of Ames Chamber of Commerce and City Hall enables multiple members of HAILA to be involved with city boards and commissions.

November 16, 2016

Saydel-Cornell Elementary Addition

This four classroom addition and activity space was the first step in a 10 year master plan for the Saydel Community School District to update existing facilities to accommodate 21st Century Learning and teaching methods.  With a unique identity and color scheme for every classroom, the day-lit spaces are bright and exciting places for instruction. The central activity space serves as an extension of the classroom for collaborative group work or individual projects and reading.  The project also includes an outdoor discovery play area for pre-kindergartners, featuring a playground, tricycle track, nature station, and shade structure, allowing the youngest students to learn through imaginative outdoor play and active discovery.

December 2, 2014

Ames Chamber of Commerce

The Ames Chamber of Commerce had a vision to consolidate their separate offices to a singular location within Ames’s centralized Main Street Cultural District and seized the opportunity to move into this historic two story building. The Chamber also desired to creating an inviting space, open for use by all members and businesses, not just the Chamber staff.

The challenge of the project was to create a cohesive office layout between two levels and respect the historic character of the interior space. The solution was to create a receptionist desk on the main level to direct visitors either to the second level offices or to the first level conference rooms, creating a clear delineating line between public, semi-public, and private spaces.

The modern conference/board room on the main level utilizes a traditional material in white oak casework and accent walls, set in juxtaposition to the contemporary all glass corridor walls. The partial height walls of the board room with its “portal” ceilings expose and celebrate the historic tin ceiling. The overall effect is a modern and contemporary interior design that respects the historic character of the building, reflective of the traditional yet progressive values of the Ames Chamber of Commerce.

November 17, 2014

Saydel High School Renovations

The Saydel Community School District had a vision to refresh its high school weight room and practice gymnasium; centered around the ideas of activity and wellness.  Funded by a bond referendum, this renovation of their existing high school wellness facilities, administrative offices, and primary high school entry is the realization of that vision.

Wellness Components | The District desired to make wellness integral with their school curriculum and culture. Existing space limitations initially posed a challenge, leading members of the board and administration to assume that a costly addition would be necessary to house an expanded weight training and new cardiovascular training areas.  A space utilization analysis revealed that underutilized spaces in the existing high school administrative areas, computer lab, and practice gymnasium could be reorganized and reclaimed to make room for the expanded weight training and new cardiovascular training areas.  This analysis alone not only saved the district thousands of dollars of new construction costs, it also saved on the future heating and cooling costs of the additional square footage.

Entry Improvements | Multiple additions and renovations to Saydel High School over the past several decades had resulted in a strange circumstance, where the set of west doors (originally intended as a secondary entrance) became the primary entrance to the high school. This was not only confusing to visitors of the school as to “where is the front door,” but also presented major security problems as school administrators had no control over the flow of visitors into and out of the building.  The challenge to creating a sense of entry for the high school was working with only a narrow strip between the existing building and the parking lot. The solution was a to create a minimal, yet distinct entry canopy with lit banner flags, signage, and an accent retaining wall with landscaping.  Security was greatly improved by moving the administrative offices to the space directly adjacent to the front entrance (formerly the weight room), punching large windows for vision to the parking lot, and modification to the vestibule doors to funnel visitors through the administrative offices before gaining access to the rest of the building.

October 15, 2012

Story County Community Services

The vacated lower level of the Human Services Building presented an opportunity for the growing Story County Community Services Department to capture additional office space as well as reinvision daily operations of staff and visitors.

One of the primary challenges of the project was to provide an access corridor for maintenance staff to be able to walk freely from one end of the long narrow building to the other without disrupting the officing functions of the Community Services staff. Furthermore, any corridor along the perimeter of the space would potentially block the already limited daylight provided by the basement windows. The solution was to provide a continous band of partially obscurred ribbon windows along the main east-west corridor, allowing daylight and relative privacy to the Community Services staff, while allowing maintenance personel to move freely between the two sides of the building.

The department also desired multiple types and scales of conferencing abilities, from large staff meetings of twenty people or more to small personal meetings with visitors of no more than two to three people. Having limited space for conferencing functions, the solution was to create a singular flexible conference space with an operable glass wall to bisect the room on the fly. When openned, the room can easily accomodate a large staff meeting. When closed, the operable glass wall divides the space into two spaces, a medium and small sized conference room. Additionally, private offices were designed to provide impromptu meetings and conferences with visitors as well.

September 6, 2012

Fighting Burrito DSM

The Fighting Burrito, a popular late-night, fast-food burrito shop in Ames was looking to expand its business to downtown Des Moines and jumped at the chance to develop this tenant improvement space in the Nationwide Insurance Building just off of Locust Street, on 13th Avenue, near the Western Gateway Park.  The shop caters to the downtown lunch crowd with its selection of fresh ingredients that are rolled up in  a choice of tortilla and also offers delivery to nearby businesses.  The challenge of the design was to balance the efficiency of the queuing line while maximizing seating capacity within the relatively narrow space.  A simple solution of “divide and conquer” was devised to split the queuing line into two separate lines from the middle of the restaurant, effectively doubling the efficiency of the restaurant.

The visionary owner of Fighitng Burrito took every opportunity to capitalize on the architecture to communicate the brand of the business.  Inspired by the restaurant’s hallmark tortillas, the undulating ceiling cloud, the large curved booths, and the bamboo wrapped alcoves were all created with the simple idea of “wrapping” architectural elements around one another to define individual spaces within the restaurant.  Employing the talents of Des Moines based graphic artists, Basemint, vinyl graphics communicating the unique brand of Fighting Burrito adorn many of the walls and ceiling surfaces.

May 14, 2010

Stomping Grounds Cafe

This coffee house and restaurant is part of Ames’ up and coming Campustown district.  With an aggressive timeline and vision to create a European style cafe, the renovation included the phased redevelopment of two-thirds of an existing building containing multiple tenant spaces into a singular business entity.

The challenge of consolidating multiple tenant spaces into a singular space provided an opportunity to create different zones within the restaurant to allow varying levels of privacy for visitors.  Raised platforms with formal and informal seating provide optimal sight lines to see and be seen while alcoves provide quiet retreats from the lively coffee shop for relaxation and rejuvenation.  Furthermore, the raised platforms form an inherently dramatic ‘stage’ providing a live venue for performing artists.

As part of the phased renovation, the kitchen was expanded and made more efficient.  Consequently the owner has been able to greatly expand the restaurant menu to include a diverse array of food and beverage offerings, making it a destination eatery within the district.

Direct lighting was incorporated at the various wall expanses within the space to allow the restaurant to double as an art gallery for local artists.  The resultant effect of the gallery space, coupled with the dramatic interior design and excellent food and beverage offerings have effectively created a lively ‘third place,’ a social environment separate from the home and the workplace.  Ultimately, the aggressive vision of the owner and the successful realization of that vision for the designed space have allowed Stomping Grounds to become a model business for the redemptive process in the Campustown district.