Iowa City’s Public Works Facility was recently named a 2022 Top Ten U.S. architecture project by Dezeen, a London-based online architecture and design magazine. Dezeen is one of the world's most influential design magazines, with over three million monthly readers.

This award adds to the national attention the Public Works Facility has received. In 2022, the project was honored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with the prestigious Committee on the Environment award as a COTE Top Ten Award winner. In 2021, the American Public Works Association (APWA) named the Iowa City Public Works Facility the Small Cities/Rural Communities U.S. Project of the Year in the structures category. 

"We are excited to see our Public Works Facility receive such accolades throughout the country, and now internationally. But we're not surprised. With the City's dedication to climate action efforts in every facet of this project, and the incredible work done in the design and construction phases, we knew that this building would be special," said Ron Knoche, Iowa City's Public Works Director. 

Why this Building is Significant

The facility, designed by Neumann Monson Architects, opened in 2019. It serves three Public Works divisions and includes shops, large-scale vehicle and equipment storage, offices, and much more. Fire training facilities are also included on-site.  

This 99,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility improves worker safety, reduces operational costs, and incorporates innovative sustainable energy features. Designed in accordance with the city’s Climate Action Plan, it allows the city to lead by example, demonstrating a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

There are numerous reasons why the Public Works Facility has garnered such attention. Early studies were completed to determine the facility’s optimal dimensions to create the most energy-efficient building form and the structure incorporates extra insulation. Daylight is optimized through the use of translucent skylights and over 7,000 square feet of insulated translucent wall panels. These energy strategies minimize demand on the mechanical systems.

The building has also reduced potable water usage by 65% by using low-flow, high-efficiency fixtures in restrooms and locker rooms. Additionally, water reclamation system are used in vehicle wash bays and fire training facilities. Together, they all conserve over 600,000 gallons annually. 

The facility's east façade also faces a residential neighborhood across an arterial street. It establishes a civic presence that artfully conceals the rough-and-tumble functions occurring deeper in the site and creates an appealing boundary for the existing bike trail that links recreational grounds to the north and south. The east-facing windows contain an aesthetic lighting feature incorporated to illuminate the windows in multiple color options at night. These lights have helped make the structure a cheerful sight for residents walking, biking, or driving by. 

The Design Team

The City of Iowa City is also proud of the design team who collaborated on this project and is comprised of the following companies:

  • Architect: Neumann Monson Architects
  • Civil Engineer: Snyder & Associates
  • MEP Engineer: MODUS
  • Structural Engineer: Raker Rhodes Engineering
  • Landscape Architect: Genus Landscape Architects
  • Maintenance Design Services: HDR/Maintenance Design Group 
  • LEED Consultant: C-Wise Design & Consulting
  • General Contractor: Merit Construction

Date of publication

Friday, January 13, 2023