There is awe in the experience of watching a building come to life exactly as you imagined it, says OPN Associate Principal Danielle Hermann.
She felt that sense of awe in November 2018, when the Krause Gateway Center — a project that Hermann shepherded from its inception in 2015 — opened.
The four planes of the new Krause Gateway Center fly above downtown Des Moines’ Western Gateway. Lightness, simplicity, and openness define the corporate headquarters, which houses several companies under the same ownership, offering opportunities to co-mingle and capitalize on collisions.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop designed the 160,000-square-foot structure in collaboration with OPN Architects. The site’s location at the crux of a shift in the city grid inspired the design, which rotates the uppermost floors to orient with the northern city grid while maintaining alignment with the surrounding context at the lower floors. The rotation of the city grid, which was also adopted by the building, is exactly 15.96 degrees.
Wall-to-wall expanses of glass are protected by deep overhangs, avoiding direct sun while allowing natural light deep into the building, offering 360-degree views of the downtown skyline. The focal point of the modern design is its light-filled lobby encased by 29-foot-tall glass panels, which were the second tallest in North America at the time of installation. An open plan on all six levels fosters collaboration and flexibility for the associates who work in neighborhoods and select work areas daily. A multi-purpose room and an art gallery occupy the second level, while the first floor houses a conference center, café, game room, and fitness room with lockers. The site also welcomes visitors and accommodates tree-filled urban park space that compliments and contrasts the Pappajohn Sculpture Park across the street, while creating outdoor work areas for associates. A two-story underground parking garage ensures the site remains pedestrian friendly.
Interior spaces have direct access to additional complimentary outdoor areas at upper levels as well. On the roof, a small glazed pavilion sits within the native short-grass prairie and contains a multifunctional lounge and dining furniture for working in groups, entertaining, or relaxing. The only native prairie greenroof in the state, it lessens the impact of energy usage and water run-off. The building is targeting LEED Silver certification and takes up just 25 percent of the site.
The interior finish palette is neutral so the building becomes a backdrop for views and an expansive art collection. The gallery-esque materials are warmed with wood panels and floors, limestone, and pops of saturated colors in furniture, art, graphics, and finishes. In this way, the building harmonizes work spaces, cityscapes, landscapes and art; none over-powering the other.