Bluestem

The program calls for a space in which both a bar and a restaurant can exist simultaneously and energetically, but without much interference.

The project is located on the ground floor of a four-story building located in the Fourth Street  Historical District of Sioux City, Iowa.  The original structure was built in 1889 and was originally used as a technical school.  It soon became a brothel and later numerous bars.  Before this renovation the building stood vacant for twenty years.

The solution for the space looks to the surrounding context and its past history.  It also looks further into the rural setting in which it exists to gain form, materiality and essence.  Golden fields of prairie grass, the blue sky, and the ad hoc quality of farm buildings were reinterpreted into a sophisticated environment.

A corrugated metal canted wall is used to divide the volume between dining/bar areas and service spaces.  The canted wall is designed to contrast the original brick wall and wood floors, spatially and texturally, forcing space towards the rear.  The canted wall also takes on an interstitial role by cutting across a column line and creating an intersection between past and present construction.

The bar and dining spaces are constructed from corrugated metal, sandblasted polycarbonate, maple wood, and plumbing pipe juxtaposed to resurface a dynamic that has been lost over time.  Space has been laced, old with new, via contextual conditions and latent energies.

Create a design that could be built out inexpensively – the solution was to restore the existing shell and to insert new spatial dividers constructed from inexpensive materials (ie: plumbing pipe, plastics, corrugated metal and stainless steel).

Create a sophisticated environment where the restaurant feeds off the energy of the bar and yet is still somewhat separate from the bar- the solution became to create one big room and then break down space with the plumbing pipe and plastic, allowing glimpses into the bar area and also lighting the bar so the shadows on the plastic wall are silhouettes of the activity in the bar.

Create a space that will be noticed when people walk by at night- the exterior was restored to the original design for historic preservation, so the challenge was to make the inside of the space come outside to catch peoples attention.  The solution became to project blue light out of the front of the bar, to make the bar glow and become a beacon to people walking by on the street.