DLR Group Transforms Century-Old Skyscraper into Boutique Hotel

What once stood as the tallest building in downtown Des Moines, the 100-year-old Southern Surety Building has been transformed into a four-star boutique hotel. DLR Group’s interior design for Surety Hotel juxtaposes historic American opulence and contemporary artistry, paying homage to the city’s past while celebrating its future.

Aparium Surety Hotel lobby in Des Moines Iowa featuring custom plasterwork, millwork, and leather upholstery.Surety Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa by DLR Group. 

Surety Hotel is located at 206 6th Avenue, in the heart of Des Moines’ historic financial and insurance downtown district. The building, originally designed in 1913, is recognized for its elaborate Beaux-Arts features from the French school of architecture in Paris. It has served as a working bank and various insurance and law offices over the years. Inside, DLR Group’s design preserves many of the building’s historical features, from the 12-story main staircase to the ornate mail chute that runs down the structure’s entire length, as well as bank space on the main level and original vault doors. The hotel’s interiors are outfitted in marble, hand applied artisan plaster, hardwood millwork, leathers and rich metals, reminiscent of the coins that previously passed through in exchange.

“Our design celebrates the building’s history rooted in financial transactions by fostering communal and social transactions,” said DLR Group Principal Staci Patton. “We played into the artistic backbone of Des Moines to bring the community together with a design that embraces over 28 original works of art by local Iowan artists.”

The 82,750-SF hotel features 137 guestrooms on 12 floors. Inspired by the fashion of guests in the 1920s, the color palette features cognac brown hand applied suede plaster walls; green and burgundy leather furnishings; heathered tweeds; and copper, zinc, and black accents. New guestrooms evoke a humble yet sophisticated design: simple, contemplative, unadorned confidence. Marble hexagon tile flooring in guest bathrooms harkens back to the building’s original design, and is complemented with forest green-tiled accents in glass-enclosed showers. DLR Group provided interior design services and collaborated with Slingshot Architecture on the project.

Learn more about the project here