DES MOINES, IA
22 000 SQUARE FEET
Ruan Center is a 3-building commercial complex in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, built in the Modernist
style, and clad in striking weathered Cor-Ten steel. The main tower has been an iconic fixture in the downtown skyline for over 40 years yet leasing velocity has stagnated due to an influx of newer buildings and developments ushering in a revival of the central business district’s budding live, work, and entertainment environment. We were hired to devise strategies to breathe new life into this aging property. Our approach, far more extensive than a superficial remodeling, required an intensive and comprehensive restructuring of the disjointed individual buildings into a thriving mixed-use facility. Our goal was to not only leverage a prime downtown location by drastically transforming its use to attract top-tier tenants but also become a go-to location for residents and visitors.
One of the key ways to increase a property’s value is to strongly weave a property into its context by
establishing new visual, physical, and programmatic links. Specific to this project’s transformation is
repurposing the space of the corner banking hall, currently housing a sea of open office furniture, into a
one-of-a-kind mixed-use pavilion, supporting building tenants, local residents, and visitors.
We envision the Pavilion space itself to be programmatically flexible with a multifold outreach. Food hall, dining, retail, and art gallery programs all combine to produce an engaging, memorable campus-like draw for visitors, tenants, and the community. This space also provides impromptu work areas for tenants that prefer to work in more active building areas. The inclusion of a large-scaled artwork kiosk at the center of the Pavilion is the physical representation of the Pavilion’s special role as the heart of the complex. The architectural design of the pavilion interior includes cream- colored stone floors, vein-cut travertine walls (which match the walls in the original tower design), skylights, populated with modern landscaping and artwork. This space becomes the the connective tissue of the entire complex, aesthetically uniting all buildings and circulation into a thriving, dynamic pedestrian realm. By using principles of university campus planning, noting creative patterns of use, and focusing on the interstitial spaces that connect
the main spaces, we are able to activate the often-overlooked missed opportunities for making memorable places that become the identity, life, and brand of a property.