A Life Remembered

Kirk V. Blunck FAIA

1953 – 2016

Through leadership, public advocacy and tireless energy Kirk made significant contributions to design excellence, to public understanding of architecture, and to the alliance of architecture and arts. He vigorously led a quest for design excellence in work that spanned from the smallest private projects to the most prominent public urban design and art projects.

Kirk, a principal of Knowles Blunck Architecture, was the recipient of 84 awards in architecture. He was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AlA) in 1995. In 2001 Kirk and his partners at HLKB Architecture received the AlA Architecture Firm Award, the highest honor that the AlA can bestow on an architecture firm. He was personally honored by the AlA with a 2002 National Honor Award for Interior Architecture for Sticks and with a 1999 National Honor Award for Interior Architecture for the M.G. Ginsberg Objects of Art. He received awards from Industrial Design, Interiors, Business Week, and Architectural Record magazines.

He is recognized as one of the finest experts of historical preservation in Iowa and has played a leading role in some of Des Moines’ most significant institutions, including the Western Gateway Plan, Des Moines Art Center Salisbury House, and Hoyt Sherman Place. As Editor of the Iowa Architect, he created an award-winning, nationally prominent magazine covering architecture, art, graphic design, and urban design issues throughout the United States. As Editor of Architecture at Hand, he organized the first comprehensive guidebook of significant regional architecture.

Kirk became involved with the Des Moines Art Center in 1980 and later served on the organization’s Board (1989-2008) and as its President (2000-2003). He was serving on its Acquisitions¬†Committee and remains an Honorary Trustee.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Kirk personally developed, renovated and restored the first buildings in the East Village, setting the stage for the vibrant community it is today. Such buildings include the Teachout Building, the Hohberger Building, and the Locust Tap. Kirk is recognized for spearheading the rehabilitation of the neighborhood, as well as redevelopment projects in Stuart and Perry, Iowa.

Kirk always made time for his family and friends, most significantly for his children. He most enjoyed spending summers with his family in Cape Cod and supporting his children at their athletic and extracurricular activities. He was very involved with Roosevelt High School athletics, including soccer and baseball. He designed and led the financing of the Roosevelt Baseball Facility, which he dedicated to his father Darrel H. Blunck.