Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Des Moines, Iowa
27,500 SF

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (formerly Faegre Baker Daniels)

Project Team
Paul Mankins
Paolo Orlando

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP – Substance Architecture
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP – Substance Architecture

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

The expanding practice of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath (formerly Faegre Baker Daniels) required more office space, prompting a move to two consecutive and higher floors in the same Des Moines, IA office tower they’d occupied since 2004. The challenge was to create a unique, versatile environment that accommodated both public and private workspaces while integrating expansive views, natural daylight, and the firm’s collection of artwork.

The office’s 27,500 square feet are organized on two levels connected by an internal stair. The lower level serves as the public face of the firm, with meeting and conference rooms wrapping the public circulation and reception areas. The upper-level houses attorney and staff offices, administration, and service spaces.

Innovative Space Utilization

The existing private office layout and spacing were kept intact from the previous tenant. The solid wall separating these offices from the interior of the floor, however, was removed and replaced with a translucent glass wall featuring deep wood mullions. The glass allows daylight beyond the private offices while the mullions create an aesthetic rhythm that is extended into more public portions of the office through floor and ceiling treatments. Contrasting the wood and glass wall is an undulating ribbon of drywall that wraps the floor’s inner core. It veils a collection of paralegal offices and service spaces and adds visual richness to the public circulation area. Throughout the public spaces of the building, works of art from the firm’s collection, including a meandering “wood hutch” commissioned for the space are used to add visual interest, infuse color, and aid in wayfinding.

Creating a Dynamic Work Environment

With a new emphasis on natural light, modern communication technology, and flexible workspaces, Faegre has been creating an environment that enhances productivity, encourages collaboration, and surpasses “traditional” law firm environments. The layout supports focused individual work and collaborative projects and is an example of the firm’s commitment to fostering a workspace where employees are empowered to excel. It also caters to the global nature of modern legal practice by incorporating state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities in meeting rooms and open office spaces, promoting a culture of openness and teamwork.

Faegre Drinker's office space redefines corporate aesthetics, blending panoramic city views with a carefully curated art collection, creating an environment that is both a workspace and a gallery of inspiration.

Lasting Relationships

This project stemmed from a relationship that began in 2004 and has spanned multiple projects since. Substance takes pride in the effort made to truly get to know clients—beyond the stated needs of their project. The resulting relationships, built on mutual respect and trust, allow the firm to exceed project expectations, anticipate future needs, and have fun along the way.


MEP Engineer (Design-Build)
Custom Millwork
A.F. Johnson Millwork Co.
Ribbon Wall
Allied Construction Services
General Contractor
The Hansen Company


2017 Merit Award - Excellence in Design (Detail) with Peter Goché
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region
2016 Merit Award - Excellence in Design
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter


Winter 2017 Iowa Architect
Spring 2014 Iowa Architect

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography