West Des Moines, Iowa
91,800 SF


Project Team
Todd Garner
Kevin Wagner

Businessolver – Substance Architecture
Businessolver – Substance Architecture


Businessolver Inc., a growing benefits administration tech firm, faced significant spatial challenges in its original location within the Ashworth Tower, a 1970s-era office building in West Des Moines, IA. By 2016, as the Tower’s sole tenant, the company grappled with a building layout that was increasingly inadequate for its dynamic and expanding operations. The interior, characterized by a labyrinth of walls and limited shared spaces, was not conducive to the diverse departmental necessities of a modern, agile company.

To adapt Ashworth Tower to Businessolver's evolving requirements and client needs, a multi-phase renovation was undertaken. The initial phases involved an extensive gutting of the interior while preserving the core structure, paving the way for a new layout that included a mix of private offices, team rooms, and versatile open areas tailored to different departments. The final phase focused on rejuvenating the building's façade and introducing dedicated entrances and amenities like a full-service kitchen, fitness area, and client-service zones. The renovation culminated with a distinctive exterior transformation, featuring backlit perforated Cor-Ten steel that refreshed the building's appearance.

Striking Exterior Makeover

Businessolver’s building facade underwent a dramatic transformation, featuring backlit perforated Cor-Ten steel, which became a visual hallmark of the renovation. This innovative use of materials not only redefined the building's exterior aesthetic but also created a dynamic play of light and shadow, enhancing the structure’s presence in the landscape. The façade redesign was carefully conceptualized to reflect the company’s cutting-edge identity and tailored towards client engagement. This exterior makeover was more than a superficial change; it was a statement of Businessolver’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and service to its clients.

For Businessolver, the transformation of Ashworth Tower was more than a renovation; it was a development of workspace philosophy, blending dynamic office layouts with striking exterior design, marking a new chapter in corporate aesthetics.

Modern Workspace Redesign

The workspace redesign at Businessolver transcended typical office renovation. It involved transforming a conventional, compartmentalized office layout into an open, adaptable workspace conducive to a tech company’s dynamic needs. This transformation included reconfiguring spaces to allow for an array of work settings—from private offices and team rooms to collaborative open areas. The intention was to create an environment that encourages fluidity and interaction, essential for fostering innovation in a tech-driven atmosphere. Substance Architecture carefully selected furniture and finishes that reflected Businessolver’s progressive culture and work style, ensuring that the physical environment resonated with the company's forward-looking ethos and client needs.

Enhancing Employee and Client Experience

The renovation of Businessolver’s workspace was deeply focused on enhancing the day-to-day experiences of its employees and clients. The introduction of a full-service kitchen where lunch is served daily and a state-of-the-art fitness area, alongside the redefined client-service zones, was a strategic move to create an environment conducive to health, well-being, and productivity. The entrance is designed to be tailored to the client experience and the Client Services team workspaces were intentionally located to be visible to visiting clients. The result is a workspace that is not just a place to work but a destination where employees and clients feel valued and inspired.

Businessolver – Substance Architecture

Floor plans

Businessolver – Substance Architecture

Axonometric diagram

Adaptive Reuse and Sustainability

By repurposing the existing Ashworth Tower, Businessolver avoided the environmental and cost impacts of new construction while giving the building a new lease on life. This is an area in which Substance excels—creatively and seamlessly retrofitting new energy-efficient systems into an existing space, reworking a building’s layout to serve the specific needs of the client, and preserving the unique character of each building while aligning with contemporary standards of responsible design.


Structural Engineer
KPFF (formerly Saul Engineering)
General Contractor
The Hansen Company


2017 Merit Award - Excellence in Design
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter


Winter 2018 Iowa Architect
Spring 2018 Iowa Architect

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography