AIA Iowa Announces 2023 Design Awards

October 05, 2023
Public Art

RDG Planning & Design has been honored with multiple awards for design work in Iowa and beyond.

The American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter has recognized RDG with three 2023 Excellence in Design Awards. Conferred annually, the 2023 awards were presented during a ceremony on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines. The awards recognize recipients in the categories of Excellence in Design and Excellence in Craft and celebrate contributions by AIA Iowa members and emphasize the importance of architecture across Iowa and beyond.

RDG’s recognition includes two Excellence in Craft awards for “Set Open the Door O Soul,” a public art installation in the Dowling Catholic High School Maroon Memorial Garden in West Des Moines and the Murmuration Public Art Installation in Des Moines. The Excellence in Craft Award recognizes Iowa craftspeople and/or companies who demonstrate skill and inventiveness in the execution and incorporation of their craft into our built environment. Additionally, RDG, along with the Des Moines Film Society, received an inaugural Historic Vitalization Award for the restoration of the Varsity Cinema in Des Moines. New in 2023, the Historic Vitalization Award recognizes organizations or individuals for visionary investment in historic architecture.

“As a member of the Iowa architectural community for nearly 60 years, we’re profoundly honored to have our work acknowledged by AIA Iowa," said RDG Architect and Managing Principal, John Sova, AIA. "These projects reflect our dedication to enhancing communal spaces and fostering meaningful connections in those spaces – they intertwine art and architecture to elevate experiences and inspire contemplation, unity and a greater sense of purpose.”

The Dowling Catholic High School Maroon Memorial Garden is a contemplative space adjacent to the Coppola Family St. Joseph Chapel. The memorial garden is conceived as a commemorative space adjacent to the high school campus chapel, dedicated to deceased members of the high school and its community. Sculptural forms create a threshold and define the memorial space in relationship to the processional axis of the chapel. The entrance threshold is oriented perpendicular to the setting sun on All Souls Day. The Memorial Garden and sculptural elements connect the physical and the spiritual and mark the arrival to the heart of campus, creating a place capable of bearing the weight of mystery. Sculptural elements are crafted of weathering steel and complement the chapel in color and integrity of materials. The forms create a processional threshold experience expressing the importance of faith and community – the living and the departed – as one. The memorial garden is a place for an awareness of faith, a qualitative space where individuals are memorialized through this offering of a space for small group and individual contemplation.

Located within RDG’s Des Moines office, Murmuration is an installation that embodies the belief that art as a part of daily work benefits both mind and soul. Inspired by nature, it is a metaphorical expression of a shared vision and collaboration that guides leaders and staff to act together for a greater purpose. The installation represents both the individual and the greater whole of the organization striving towards creative and meaningful outcomes together with clients, and was designed, crafted and installed by the Art Studio at RDG. Murmuration welcomes visitors and staff alike, drawing them up and into a shared collaborative workspace; as one moves from the two-story entry lobby and up the stairs, the installation dynamically shifts in form, representing a state of perpetual potential and as a metaphorical embodiment of each individual and the whole striving toward a state of becoming.

For each award, a jury of respected professionals from within the architecture and design communities meet to recognize the state’s best design work. The AIA Iowa Design Award Programs are open to all members of AIA Iowa. 

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director