Nesting

This small wholesale warehouse is one of the last remaining in the West-end District in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. The 1900 era structure was home to a valve distributor in recent decades, and is now home to an insurance office.

The design of the facility was in response to two opposing programmatic requirements:

1. Create a space that was open and revealed the existing historic structure lying beneath the decades of layering and infill.

2. Create a space that allowed for semi-private and private interaction for the owner’s clients.

We first utilized a reductive strategy as opposed to an additive strategy to solve the first requirement. We removed the faux wood paneled walls, stained sheet carpet, yellowed ACT ceiling and other dated coverings to get down to the original structural framework - heavy timber columns and beams, masonry walls and concrete slab floors. We then developed a parti that used opposing planes of opaque and transparent walls subtly inserted into the existing structural framework. These insertions were designed to rest inside of the existing structural lattice as opposed to covering it.

For example, at the interior, in the east-west direction, the organization of spaces is defined by the column bays with the walls centered on the columns as is relatively common practice. However in the north-south direction the walls are not centered on the columns. The development of the floor plan along with the use of glass partition details that don’t quite make contact with the existing structure allow for the existing structural framework to be fully revealed while still creating some acoustic privacy.

In a similar fashion, the cedar clad walls rest on the existing concrete at the base but never quite make fully opaque contact with the ceiling structures. For example, in the two story stair space, the cedar transitions to glass as it moves up the wall; while in other locations it changes from opaque to screened by utilizing slats as the walls approach the ceiling structure. The use of cedar slats also allowed filtered east-west daylight to enter into much of the space beyond.

The urban site of the structure (bounded by a tangent building, two alleys and a street) limited the window locations to the east and west facades before and after renovation. As such, the daylight and view would come from the east and west. On the west, street-side façade, the many layers and decades of infill were removed and replaced with largely butt-glazed insulated glass walls to allow for a maximized view to the exterior and allow as much of the interior structure to be revealed to the exterior.

Demolition was used in this project as a design tool to reveal the existing historic structure and provide a framework to serve as a lattice for nesting contemporary interventions.

Existing Materials Removed:

1. Tattered Sheet Carpet

2. Yellowed ACT

3. Faux Wood Paneling

Existing Materials Restored:

1. Wood columns, Joists and Beams

2. Masonry Walls

3. Concrete Floor Slabs

New Materials Inserted:

1. Single-pane Glass at Interior and Insulated Glass at Exterior

2. Tongue and Groove Cedar and Cedar Slats

3. Exposed Galvanized Ductwork and other MEP Fixtures