Cowles Commons

Des Moines Performing Arts
Des Moines, IA
2 acres
Completion date
June 2015

For more than 30 years, the 2.25 acre Cowles Commons, formerly known as Nollen Plaza, has served as a front door to the Des Moines Civic Center and a venue for civic events of varying scales.

In 2008, Des Moines Performing Arts hired Ken Smith Workshop - Landscape Architecture (New York, NY) to envision a new future for Cowles Commons through a public charrette process. Through multiple public work sessions and user group interviews the design team developed an early concept for a renovated civic space. In 2010, Ken Smith invited RDG to assist with articulating this new vision, which includes flexible event space, a new granite and brick walkway, new native and garden plantings and a dynamic, interactive water feature.