Our Work

Iowa State Capitol West Terrace

Des Moines, Iowa

Confluence was selected to prepare design concepts and development plans for the improvement of the State of Iowa’s West Capitol Terrace. Our task was to remove an existing parking lot that had served as a nondescript front lawn experience to the Capitol for years and replace it with a pedestrian oriented space that provides a connection between the Capitol grounds and downtown Des Moines.

The design builds on the strengths and tradition of the French Plan and Beaux Arts style that can be seen elsewhere on the Capitol Complex and successfully incorporates native plants into that formal style.  A key obstacle to overcome was the 33 feet of grade change across the site from east to west.

Pedestrian accessibility is achieved by four sets of ramps and steps.  Additionally, the circulation layout helps to inform and define the visitor’s experience of the space. These grade transitions divide the space into five distinct areas, creating a sense of progression, a separation between uses, and a series of different experiences as one moves through the mall. The completion of Phase I transformed the West Capitol Terrace into a sanctuary for the public allowing visitors to assemble, demonstrate, picnic, walk, and contemplate. Phase II of the project included additional access points, designated visitor parking, picnic areas and additional landscape plantings.

Future phases of implementation are planned to reinforce this space’s prominence. Phase III will establish a grand entrance plaza to welcome visitors to the Capitol Complex, while Phase IV will consist of a central fountain to replace a large grass area in the center of the current plaza.