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Des Moines Municipal Services

The Client

Des Moines, Iowa’s capital and most populous city, is a major insurance industry center with a sizable financial services and publishing business base. Des Moines' strong job market, low cost of living, and entertainment options have lured many young professionals to the metro area. The city’s positive growth has placed increasing demands on its municipal services, which until this project had operated from several outdated facilities scattered around the city. These services included the Departments of Public Works; Parks and Recreation; Engineering, Fleet, Traffic and Transportation, Housing Services, Maintenance; and Satellite Maintenance facilities.

The Brief

To develop interdepartmental cooperation and capitalize on substantial organizational efficiencies, a facility was needed to centrally locate the City’s scattered services in Phase 1 of an eventual 397,000 GSF City department consolidation. The City-selected site was centrally located, connected to vehicular and bike arteries, and held potential to catalyze neighborhood development. Adjacency to major connector streets was a major selection criterion for city service vehicles.

Where We Started

The municipal project began with master planning, during which the City of Des Moines sought efficiencies through shared-use spaces, shared staffing, and better working environments. The City also sought simplified public access to city services such as obtaining Parks and Recreation Department permits, paying utility bills, etc. Beyond this, the City resolved to invigorate a grossly neglected portion of the city and catalyze further public and private development.

The site’s compelling urban potential would drive the project’s major design decisions even as its constraints, caused by the existing train tracks and parking requirements, dictated a less than ideal building orientation. The design team took this as an opportunity to integrate solar gain and glare control while optimizing building performance.

What We Did

Organizationally, the building houses two primary components: administrative offices and operational facilities. The administrative ‘bar’, pulled away from the operational components, connects to them via ‘bridges’. The interstitial space allows light to penetrate the center of the facility and creates a glass enclosed courtyard. In the operational area, the lab and storage spaces form ‘saddlebags’ flanking the large central vehicle storage bay. The project capitalizes on its connection to a county-wide bike trail system by providing interior and exterior bike racks, showers, and changing rooms.

The facility’s exterior comprises continuously insulated precast concrete panels interspersed with triple-glazed curtainwall infill. The panels’ spacing on the southern elevation brings measure and rhythm to the long facade. A continuous metal fin at the ‘slot’ windows between precast panels minimizes glare and direct exposure. Horizontal aluminum tubes and vertical fabric fins similarly mitigate glare and solar gain for the fully glazed northwest offices. 95% of spaces have access to operable windows at an exterior wall.

Building materials were selected for economy, durability, recycled content, and regional availability. As documented through LEED, 24.1% of materials, based on cost, originated within 500 miles of the site and 22.4% of materials consist of recycled material.

How it Works

The Municipal Services Center enhances environmentally challenged land with enormous potential for Des Moines’ growth and development. The location of this significant public investment contributes to ongoing revitalization efforts along a major arterial street. It spurs private sector economic investment with an increase in land value and added daytime workforce presence.

The client and design team targeted and achieved a LEED Silver rating. The certification was an early priority and the result of rigorous adherence to sustainable design goals. Daylight penetrates 90% of regularly occupied spaces, with 72 skylights serving the large vehicle bay alone. A roof-mounted solar thermal system provides hot water, while a highly efficiency decentralized variable refrigerant volume mechanical system (VRV) enables radiant floor heating. Heat recovery systems accompany all ventilation equipment. Additional measures to reduce energy consumption are LED lighting, daylight harvesting, occupancy sensors, and smart building integration.

100% of precipitation is managed on site. Storm water flows through rain gardens interlaced with the paved parking areas. Multi-level detention basins filter it for gradual re-absorption. All site plant material is indigenous, eliminating the need for irrigation.

Project Type: Civic

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 105,000 SF

Completed: 2014

Collaborators: Kueny Architects, Maintenance Facility Consultant

LEED Rating: Silver


2014 AIA Iowa Design Award
2014 AIA Central States Design Award

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