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IOWA CITY - Downtown Iowa City is full of contrast - new buildings juxtaposed with old architecture and local artistry with modern sustainability.
For Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, it was important for the organization's new office space to reflect all of those facets.
Downtown District staff moved into their new space - located at 103 E. College St., Suite 200, just above Raygun clothing store - July 1 but finished installing the furniture Wednesday. An open house at the new headquarters takes place from 4:30-7 p.m. Thursday. The event is free to the public.
The new office is filled with artwork and furniture made by local craftsmen, as well as repurposed and recycled building materials.
'Downtown has some amazing historic buildings and assets that people love, the character of downtown, but you also have some amazing new buildings that are a huge draw to millennials,” Bird said. 'So, we've got a little bit of both in the office, the new and the old.”
Bird said the decision to move from the district's original office - above Molly's Cupcakes on South Clinton Street - came when officials decided they needed a space that met the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The organization could then encourage other downtown businesses to improve accessibility. Bird said the new space also might add to the district's 'professional presence” when other entities or new business recruits come to meet with staff.
'Your location reflects who you are,” Bird said.
The Iowa City Downtown District is a non-profit organization funded through contributions from property taxes assessed to properties in downtown Iowa City and the Northside Marketplace and financial support from the University of Iowa, according to the group's Facebook page. 'The organization provides leadership and undertakes programs to promote and sustain downtown Iowa City as a unique and economically viable business, entertainment, social and cultural center,” the description reads.
Alese Van Holland, an interior designer, and Brodie Campbell, a draftsman, from Neumann Monson Architects, said the space was designed with sustainability and local businesses in mind.
'That was definitely a driving factor for the design decisions that were made,” Van Holland said. '(The district is) such an asset to the downtown. They deserve a good space.”
The carpet is made from recycled yarn, the ceiling was left exposed to avoid using extra materials and the chairs inside the lobby were purchased used and reupholstered.
A mural, featuring a map of downtown Iowa City, covers one wall in the front room of the office space. It was done by Jamie Boling, a local artist and business owner.
But the main piece, intended to represent both local artisans and sustainability, is a large worktable installed Wednesday. It is made of wood salvaged from an old local corncrib and was built by Brad Pouleson, owner of Pouleson Woodworking of Iowa City.
The space consists of a main room, two offices that can double as small meeting rooms, and a large conference room. The main room includes a seating area, reception desk and the large worktable.
To learn more about the Iowa City Downtown District, visit www.downtowniowacity.com or call (319) 354-0863.