2011 Merit Award — American Institute of Architects — Central States Region
2010 Merit Award — American Institute of Architects — Iowa Chapter
The Des Moines office of OPN Architects is located on the main level of a six-story historic building that was once a hardware company warehouse. The initial office space incorporated into this location was limited in size and due to rapid growth, OPN needed to expand in an economic and sustainable way. To do so, many of the materials and parts from the original office layout were conceived of as component parts and were re-used and re-purposed in this renovation.
A primary design objective for the office space was to provide a collaborative environment that would promote interaction and exchange of ideas, while reinforcing connections between office leadership, designers and clients. Highlighting the juxtaposition between ‘new’ and ‘old’ was also a central concept.
Exposed masonry walls, solid oak columns and beams, exposed wood floor joists, and monumental wood double hung windows with transoms define the original space and lend a sense of strength and purpose. New insertions were designed to provide a contrast to the existing space while maintaining its ‘raw’ characteristic. Birch plywood storage units and ceiling elements were set against lacquered, cold rolled steel and lumacite panels to complete the industrial and tectonic feel, in keeping with the building’s hardware history.
The main conference room space is situated immediately adjacent the entrance lobby. It is punctuated by an over-sized, custom pivot door that reveals a large conference room beyond. The conference room area can be opened completely to create an extension of the public space as needed for gatherings, or can be closed to provide a private meeting area. The material quality of the door and the plane wall that define the conference space delineates this area as special and separate, yet visually connected to the rest of the office by the glass wall at its east end.
The major circulation paths for the new office continued and refined those which had previously existed. Transparency was enhanced throughout the space by lowering all built elements and eliminating all standard doors to bring light to the center of the office while encouraging collaboration and spontaneous conversation. The result of this thoughtful transformation is an open and creative work environment which embodies the spirit and philosophy of OPN.