When you think of all the great cities in the world – New York, Chicago, London, Paris, what is it that motivates people to fly for hours in cramped airplanes (next to a woman named Tippy who eats tuna out of a pouch), just to step on those sidewalks? What is it that enamors us to the point of dropped jaws and shameless gawking? What is it that makes our hearts beat faster without exchanging so much as a word.
Hint: It’s the buildings.
Okay, maybe that was a ham-fisted hint, but your guesses were probably way off anyway. At the end of the day, when the hustle- bustle is over, and everyone has stopped ‘synergizing’ and ‘circling back,’ the buildings are what gives a city life. They are the face and the personality. They set the mood and make a statement. And thanks to the Krause Gateway Center, downtown Des Moines’ personality is about to become a whole lot cooler.
An Architectural Wonder
This 5-story architectural wonder will be home to the headquarters of Kum & Go (a regional chain of C-stores), but that’s the least newsworthy thing about it. The building itself will change the landscape of the Western Gateway area. It’ll be open, airy and light, but if you look a little closer, you’ll notice a unique sophistication at its core.
“Why just build a new headquarters for Kum & Go when you can build a new headquarters for the people of Des Moines?” Sure, this idea might sound lofty, but Chad Rasmussen, Director of Asset Management for Kum & Go, has the blueprints to prove it’s a reality. Even if the building does look a bit like a spaceship.
“We sent the RFQ to iconic architects all over the world,” Rasmussen explained. “Some of them probably hadn’t even heard of Des Moines, Iowa. But so many of them responded to Kyle’s vision. They said it was hands down the best RFQ they’d ever received.”
Handcrafted by Kyle Krause
If this sounds a little far-fetched, you probably haven’t met Kyle Krause, President and CEO of Kum & Go. The guy doesn’t do things half way. He also doesn’t do them like anyone else. Which is why the RFQ was far from typical. It included how much this building meant to Kyle, the Krause family, Des Moines, and the Kum & Go company. It gave Des Moines ‘celebrity status’ by highlighting every list the city has ever graced and gave props to all the amazing architecture that’s already found a home here. And lastly, he included pictures of his own house and his art collection.
This was not going to be another faceless, soulless RFQ. “He wanted to paint an entire picture of our goal and process. And it actually spoke to a lot of people,” Rasmussen said. Have you seen the New York Times Building? Perhaps you’ve taken a weekend trip to Chicago and visited the Modern Wing of the Art Institute? Surely you’ve seen a photo or two of the London Bridge Tower. Well, a man named Renzo Piano is responsible for those very buildings. And he jumped at the chance to create another iconic marvel right here in Des Moines.
Just as you wouldn’t hire Wolfgang Puck to make a bologna sandwich, Krause and his team did not select Renzo Piano to create an ordinary office structure. Instead of confining walls and cement blocks that restrict light and life, glass will be featured prominently throughout to provide a transparency and openness – that same transparency and openness the people of Des Moines have been known to possess. The building will act as a nucleus for an urban wonderland including rooftop gardens, lush outdoor space for both work and play, interactive art installations, and trees. So many trees.
“Kyle Krause is a big believer in the power of ‘people collisions.’ He wanted to create a space where bumping into someone could lead to exciting opportunities and serendipitous idea exchanges. He sees it as a way to spark creativity and stay motivated,” Rasmussen explained.
This sort of serendipitous brain exchange does not typically happen inside an office building between the hours of 9 and 5. It happens when people are popping out to lunch, when they’ve stopped to power down on a park bench after a long day of meetings, or when they’re just aimlessly walking and thinking and breathing in the outside air. This is exactly why finding a landscape architect was just as important as finding a top notch architect for the building.
Confluence, a landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm was Krause’s top pick. The design Confluence put together encourages interaction between associates and visitors. “The space is about being an inviting place to work that Kum & Go associates can be proud of and it’s about providing an engaging space open for our community to interact with our associates, as well as to enjoy and experience on their own,” Krause said.
Perficut Site Management is thrilled to be collaborating with Confluence on this major undertaking. As described by Jeremy Boka, Perficut Director of Business Development and Sales, “This project was a collaboration of local, national, and international teams that will provide Des Moines a landmark project that anchors the Western Gateway of downtown. The landscape itself is interesting with many concepts of its usage as a plaza and forest that surrounds the building. From a natural extension of the sculpture park,
a forest rising from the City, and an overhanging green roof designed to reduce energy and water runoff, the landscape is both functional, and aesthetically inspiring. LEED certification for the facility is important to the teams involved, especially the Krause family, so many extensive conversations have been had on the landscape, and how it impacts, and aids the overall site.”
128 Trees, 1700 Shrubs, and 7700 Perennials
Speaking of landscape, 128 Trees – 1700 Shrubs – 7700 perennials will be planted on site. Yeah, think of your most annoying grocery list of all time and then quadruple it, one thousand times. But for Nick Cimaglia, Landscape Construction Department Manager at Perficut, it’s not a chore at all. In fact, he really, really likes it.
“Everything fits the theme of community and inspiration. The landscape theme is ‘Rising from the Forest’ – so picture a clearing in the forest and that clearing is this amazing gathering place. We provide the forest. So our job is to not only plant trees and shrubs but more to really get into the intent of the design and carry it through while we provide the landscape.”
Working on a project like this is an honor for Cimaglia and his team. Even if he wanted to hide his excitement, he probably couldn’t. “We are so grateful to the Krause Family for providing something like this to the City of Des Moines. They could’ve just built another building, but chose to do the exact opposite. There may never be another building or site like this in Des Moines. The design team is world class. Some of the best local architecture firms are involved as well.”
“THIS WILL BE AN ARCHITECTURAL WONDER THAT DES MOINES, AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WILL RECOGNIZE FOR GENERATIONS.”
- JEREMY BOKA
The fact that Cimaglia sees how this project will enrich is own life is just icing on the cake. “Projects like this can keep you up at night. They scare away a lot of contractors. But I think these are the best projects to be part of. My kids will dance on the dance chimes. And eat lunch under the trees. How cool is that?”
Oh yes, there will be chimes. Under the ground. “We wanted to be careful not to be competitive with the art in the area, and also didn’t want to just build a run-of-the-mill playground,” Chad Rasmussen explained, “so instead, we really focused on interactive art. It’s essentially a perfect balance between art and play.” Seriously, they’ve thought of everything.
Putting Des Moines on the Map
The Krause Gateway Center will put Des Moines on the map in a way nothing else has. People will come from all over the world to see one of Renzo’s buildings. And they’ll leave with a big old crush on Des Moines, Iowa. Jeremy Boka sums it up best, “This will be an architectural wonder that Des Moines, and the international community will recognize for generations. This adds to the list of “Best places and Best ofs” that Des Moines and its metro areas are being recognized for in every poll and publication.”