A Neighborhood Divided

The project is a quick study on the missing middle, or the lack of mixed use low and medium rise housing, along US 69 between Capitol View Elementary school on the south side of Interstate 235, and East High School on the north side.

3 Interventions

Visits to the neighborhood and informal conversations with residents helped identify the strengths of the neighborhood and highlighted 3 opportunities for improvement. The street-scape and landscape design of the streets can create a more walkable and pedestrian centric area which can improve an already busy US-69 that connects the two schools which serve the same community. Addressing US-69 especially along the underpass can strengthen the connection as a walkable and safe thoroughfare, and finally, a proposal for mixed use housing.

Case studies for each intervention highlight goals for neighborhood. Seaside as a model of New Urbanism was designed from the start with pedestrians at the heart of the urban fabric. Strategies taken by Robert Davis and his firm to slow and redirect traffic could slow down traffic and bring the activity seen on adjacent streets back to the Grand Avenue corridor leading to the State Capitol to the west.

Borneo-Sporenburg is a development in Amsterdam which integrated heavily into paths, public transit, and bridges to connect housing that was physically separated by the waters of the Ij. This shows that it takes a combination of modes and strategies to provide a robust connection through physical barriers such as water or highways like Interstate 235 we have in the neighborhood.

Finally, in order to address the missing middle in a neighborhood which has dense high-rise housing and numerous low-value single family housing is to introduce mixed use opportunities along Grand. Activating the street-front with businesses creates job and small business opportunities as well as a variety of housing stock as condos and apartments for those looking to move into a place where housing is unavailable due to market forces or personal finances.

Quinta Monroy by Elemental is a shift in the housing model lowers the financial barriers of entry to owning homes by providing a basic level of housing including building infrastructure such as plumbing, structure, and electricity while leaving a void open and a framework for owners to grow and complete the home on their own schedule.

This project was completed at Iowa State University as a methods study on Des Moines' Capitol East Neighborhood.


Photo Credit and Caption: The Missing Middle of Capitol East

Cite this page:

Wittmeyer, S. (2021, 15 May). The Missing Middle of Capitol East. Retrieved from https://seanwittmeyer.com/projects/capitoleast

The Missing Middle of Capitol East was updated May 15th, 2021.