The Beaux-Arts tradition was in a continual state of change from 1900 through the 1950s. The tendency was to abstract volumes and surfaces, returning them in a sense to their primitive (but sophisticated) forms. The Des Moines Auditorium presents a long, low (and mildly Modern) face to the street. The dominant feature of the design is the gable front, banded horizontally with thin lines of stone placed within its brick wall. Another thin line of stone defines the roof edge, which is without an overhang. Everything is organized around an axis that seems to plunge into the center of the building or upward to the apex of the roof.
In 1983–1984, Brooks, Borg and Skiles added a new Modernist entrance to the building. They kept their new addition symmetrical and utilized the same Mankato stone and brick used in the original building. They also redesigned the double walkway and steps leading to the building, again carrying on the symmetry of the initial design. In 1989 the same architects provided a pair of skyway entrances running across the front of the building, connecting to their new entrance. As is too often the case, the new skyways will hardly enhance the older Beaux-Arts facade design—but one must wait and see the results before forming a final judgment.