Case Studies

Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Campus and Recreation Project – RDG Planning and Design

Iowa firm celebrates 50 years with innovative student center design

In order to renovate and expand its student center, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) at Ankeny approached RDG Planning and Design in collaboration with general contractor JE Dunn Construction to create an innovative solution that enhances students’ experiences on campus. The DMACC Ankeny and Recreation project features a new student activities complex, which includes a food court, fitness center and performance and study space.

Through the design process, RDG and DMACC worked with the local YMCA to incorporate a natatorium featuring eight competitive lanes, a deep end and a diving platform. The pool will also be used by local school systems for swim meets. Once completed, the fitness center will contain group exercise rooms, three racquetball courts and office space. A second level includes 15,000 square feet of weightlifting space that overlooks the natatorium.

A new gymnasium will be featured in the new student center and will include a suspended track that surrounds the basketball court and will be integrated in to the existing gym as well. The renovation that will take place in the existing building, which features the campus bookstore, will include the addition of four outside food vendors and new office space, as well as a black box theater to be utilized by the DMACC drama department.

The extent of the addition and renovation work at DMACC is unique compared to the treatment that most community colleges receive. “A facility that includes all of these amenities is rather atypical compared to traditional community college campuses,” says Brad Rodenburg, project architect for RDG. “I think it’s an example of how the concept of community college is changing.”

The materials used in the DMACC project are nontraditional as well. The exterior of the new facility will include a fiber-cement rainscreen system, which creates a healthier environment for occupants and causes fewer building defects. The fiber-cement rainscreens prevent the buildup and collection of moisture while providing drainage and evaporation for any water that does penetrate. “All of the materials came from Switzerland,” says Rodenburg. “Using fiber-cement rainscreens is a European trend that is catching on in the United States.”

A major challenge in the design process of the DMACC project was the inclusion of input and ideas from the numerous user groups that the facility will house. With students, faculty and staff as the occupants of the building, there are numerous angles, approaches and opinions involved in the design of a facility that will potentially become the focal point of the entire campus. “With different departments contributing funds to the project, we have to listen to their needs for different aspects of the building,” Rodenburg explains. “We’re accommodating Ankeny schools, DMACC students and staff and the third-party fitness center provider.”

Rodenburg says that as with most architectural jobs, the highlight of the DMACC project is the opportunity to witness his sketches and drawings come to fruition as a standing structure. “What’s really great is to see all the different ideas from the different user groups meshed together to create a final product,” he says. “I think the collaboration is the most satisfying aspect of what we do.” While Rodenburg is the project architect, Craig Bullis is the project manager with Al Oberlander as project principal.

RDG is celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2016. As an employee-owned company, RDG has had numerous principals over the years with the current management maintaining ties to the original founders of the business. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the company also manages satellite offices in Omaha, Nebraska, and Ames, Iowa. Rodenburg has been with RDG for eight years and has been involved in numerous student recreation facility projects across the United States.

With the completion of each project, Rodenburg measures the success of his team from numerous standpoints, such as profitability and customer satisfaction. “The DMACC project has gone very smoothly,” he says. “The owner is happy with what we’re providing and is possibly looking to expand even more in the future.”

For 50 years, RDG Planning & Design has worked together and with its clients to bring meaning to every project while defining its past, shaping the present and bettering the future for those whose lives are touched by its work.

Published on: September 29, 2016


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