U.S. General Services Administration


Des Moines Federal Office Building Facade Replacement

Des Moines, Iowa

390,000 GSF, 36230 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Building Systems Consulting

“This project is a sophisticated transformation of a mid-century office with a high performance envelope. What was once a facility of only modest value is now an urban asset.”

—2007 Design Excellence Award Jury Comments, U.S. GSA


The Des Moines Federal Building, a vintage facility from the 1960s, had been leaking through its facade since it first was constructed. Contracted to reclad the structure in a way that would satisfy federal guidelines for sustainability, SmithGroupJJR set out to make the building safer, stronger, more energy efficient—and more attractive.

Bringing deep forensic and recladding experience to bear, the Building Technology studio evaluated the original facade, finding the masonry badly deteriorated and failed components including sealant joints and entire windows, plus dislodged granite cladding on the columns. After designing a temporary restraint system, SmithGroupJJR crafted and employed a strategy for recladding directly over the existing exterior.

Though the project scope was too small to earn a LEED rating, the approach met the requirements for LEED-EB Silver criteria. Even better, the strategy gave the building a bold, contemporary look while protecting against blasts and progressive structural collapse. It also improves thermal efficiency and meets federal mandates for reuse of materials and construction waste.