Iowa City architecture firm moves across Ped Mall to prepare for next chapter of growth
In late 2020, Legat Architects challenged lifelong Iowan John Gabrielson to launch its new Iowa City studio located in the downtown Pedestrian Mall, known among locals as the Ped Mall. The firm’s Quad Cities (Moline, Illinois) studio had designed projects in Bettendorf and Davenport, but its leadership wanted to expand westward. Gabrielson, assisted remotely by coworkers in Legat’s five other Midwestern studios, worked in a rented basement space in MERGE Iowa City, a coworking facility for startups and entrepreneurs.
The studio has since expanded its Iowa City regional clientele, thanks in large part to the University of Iowa located next to the Ped Mall. The firm’s work at the university started with a single restroom remodel and led to building envelope repairs, interior renovations, and new construction projects.
“We are grateful to the university for helping us gain momentum by continuously entrusting us with ongoing work,” said Gabrielson.
That momentum led to the design of three new commercial buildings now under construction, as well as several renovation projects including a remodel of Collins Community Credit Union in downtown Iowa City.
“The backlog of regional work we’ve gained has allowed us to secure more space for the next chapter of regional growth,” said Legat President and CEO Berry DeSimone.
Legat’s Iowa City studio has moved to a larger space just across the Ped Mall’s main thoroughfare. The new studio at 119 East College Street is in a recently revived mixed-use building, part of the “Crescent Block” built in the late 1800s as a Montgomery Ward department store. The second-floor space not only offers room for growth but also overlooks the Ped Mall’s Weatherdance Fountain Stage where kids play during the day and concerts take place at night.
“Our neighbors include a clothing retailer, restaurant, community theater, and residential units,” said Gabrielson. “It’s a perfect location to capture the energy and community of downtown Iowa City.”
Gabrielson has followed the strategy of Legat’s other studios by connecting to the local community. The Iowa City studio, for instance, donated interior space planning and furniture for MERGE’s Iowa EdTech Collaborative Classroom of the Future.
Legat’s Iowa City studio will continue its growth by doubling in size when it expands into an adjacent office suite in October 2022.
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