BNIM’s Des Moines Architectural Studio Receives Good Design is Good Business Award for Renovation of American Enterprise Group Headquarters

Des Moines, Iowa – June 8, 2016 – BNIM Architects’ Des Moines Studio directed the design of the Renovation of the American Enterprise Group Headquarters in Des Moines, which is the recipient of a 2016 Architectural Record  Good Design is Good Business Award. This annual award recognizes the importance of design and architectural solutions that are instrumental in the growth and success of the businesses they serve. The renovation of the American Enterprise Group’s (AEG) National Headquarters embodies the purpose of the award — to celebrate successful collaborations between the client and design team, which elevate the business plan, the user experience, and the bottom line.

Project Description
The American Republic Insurance building is an eight-story office building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa that is home to American Enterprise Group (AEG). The venerable building, designed by SOM’s Gordon Bunshaft, was completed in 1965 and received an AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture in 1967. In 1966, it was featured in LIFE magazine and deemed “the talk of the Midwest.” Five decades after it was completed, the AEG building won a 2016 AIA Honor Award for Architecture — this time, for the building’s revitalization.

As the building aged, the owner had consciously respected the importance of the building’s design, and consequently, most of the significant architectural characteristics were still intact almost 50 years later. The original building systems were still operational, but they were extremely problematic and the building needed critical code improvements.

BNIM was hired to renovate the building and create a safer and healthier workplace for AEG employees while carefully preserving the building’s original character. The resulting effort by BNIM is considered to be “an invisible rehabilitation.”

The Business Case
The strategies employed by the project team deliver significant energy savings in comparison to the building’s prior consumption. Before the renovation, AEG employees joked that they could experience all four seasons in one day without ever going outside, and they had the energy bill to back it up. Following the renovation, the project operates at a 65% energy savings. Almost 230 thermostats now control the building’s systems, giving each quadrant on each floor the ability to change temperatures. AEG noted that the renovation and repair will save the company up to $2 million a year in energy and repair costs.

The renovation allows AEG to retain its current 330 employees and gives the company space to grow for the next 50 years, including fulfilling its goal of adding 147 new employees by 2017. AEG will also be able to lease the entire third floor to a future business tenant. AEG’s choice to remain in Des Moines’s urban core represents a vote of confidence for the future of downtown.

The original building meshed together workplace and AEG’s impressive art collection — a museum within an office. The renovated space addresses human efficiency and evolving workplace standards with systems that enhance productivity while keeping the art as an integrated part of the experience. The building and adjacent public sculpture park are great amenities to the downtown area and surrounding neighborhood.


“This renovation has extended the life of Bunshaft’s structure by at least five decades,” BNIM Principal Rod Kruse, FAIA said. “The commitment to saving great architecture is an important part of the legacy of this project and the vision of this client.”

About BNIM
BNIM is one of the most important design firms working to redefine practice and building performance in architecture today. As early pioneers of sustainability in the building industry, BNIM continues to shape the national and global design conversation on design excellence and delivering transformational results for clients. The firm received the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award for their work. Established in 1970, the firm has emerged as a leading resource for out-of-the-box methodologies, innovative technologies and cutting-edge research in the fields of architecture, planning, landscape, education and workplace design. The firm has offices in Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; and Des Moines, Iowa; and is incubating offices in Washington, DC; and Madison, Wis. For more information visit