Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements

Des Moines, Iowa
90,000 SF

Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines

Project Team
Todd Garner
Yasmine Killeen
Paolo Orlando
Matt Rodekamp

Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements – Substance Architecture
Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements – Substance Architecture

Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements

Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines (FHLB) faced the challenge of designing a workspace that catered to their identified goals of increased collaboration, flexibility, and activity-based opportunities for their burgeoning team. It was crucial to find a building solution that would be a suitable canvas for these ambitious aspirations. After working with Substance Architecture to carefully vet multiple options, the cooperative decided on the purchase and full renovation of an existing office building at 909 Locust Street in downtown Des Moines, IA.

FHLB now occupies 90,000 square feet spread across three floors of the building. A delicate wood and glass central stair was created to connect the floors. It overlooks a two-story “town center” atrium where staff meet for coffee, impromptu conversation, and casual collaboration. 

Work lounges located throughout the office offer a variety of spaces catering to individual and business unit work styles. Private offices and conference rooms are located at the center of the space with open workspaces along the perimeter, allowing greater access to daylight and views. Only 11 private offices were created, a drastic reduction from the previous space and one that encouraged a more horizontal office culture. Conference rooms were provided in a wide range of sizes and settings to better align with the wide array of meeting needs.

Overcoming Challenges with Creative Solutions

Substance is a firm that embraces challenges; in fact, it relishes finding the perfect solution for clients. The design team was able to demonstrate that several times with this project. The central stair internally connects FHLB's three floors with a light-filled, wood-clad steel and glass structure that culminates in each floor's social space including the “town center”. With a large Board of Directors and challenging spatial constraints, Substance devised a unique concept for the board room that sized the room properly without internal columns. The result was a square configuration where there is no perceived 'head of the table'. Compared to traditional linear arrangements, users have full visibility of the entire Board, resulting in improved communication.

The project breathed new life into a 25-year-old building, combining its solid structure with modern, sustainable features. Limited private offices and open spaces filled with natural light not only redefined the work environment but also upheld the bank's commitment to sustainable practices.

Crafting Spaces for Enhanced Teamwork

At the center of FHLB’s new office is the two-story “town center” atrium, designed to change the company’s approach to work and encourage employee interaction. This open, highly visible space is where staff “collide” over coffee or lunches, resulting in impromptu conversations and spontaneous collaboration. The space provides comfortable seating, attractive decor, and technological enhancements to facilitate both formal and informal gatherings. Open to the elevator core, this space welcomes visitors and accommodates all-company meetings and events, quickly becoming a hub of activity and embodying the company environment of collaboration and openness. The Board Room and Large Conference Room are on either side of the space on the upper floors to provide continued connectivity. Throughout the office, additional work lounges of various sizes offer diverse spaces and postures that cater to individual and business unit work styles.

“We cut a hole in the floor of an existing building to provide connectivity between two floors. Not easy. Not cheap. Wildly effective.”

Matt Rodekamp, Architect & Principal, Substance Architecture

Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements – Substance Architecture

Floor plan - 4th floor

Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements – Substance Architecture

Floor plan - 5th floor

Federal Home Loan Bank Tenant Improvements – Substance Architecture

Floor plan - 6th floor

Sustainable Design at its Core

The project team incorporated a variety of sustainable building practices, including the use of recycled materials, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving fixtures. The design emphasized reducing the need for artificial lighting and creating a healthier work environment. These sustainable practices are aligned with the company's environmental goals and contribute to long-term operational savings. Furthermore, FHLB’s decision to renovate an existing building within the urban core illustrates its commitment to sustainability, adaptive reuse, and preserving the character of Des Moines’ downtown business district.


MEP Engineer
Baker Group
Structural Engineer
KPFF (formerly Saul Engineering)
Audio Visual
Morrisey Engineering, Inc.
Elevator Consultant
BOCA Group
General Contractor
Graham Construction
Custom Millwork
RCS Millwork and ACGI


2020 Excellence in Interior Architecture - Merit Award
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region
2019 Honor Award of Excellence
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter
2019 People's Choice Award
JLL Spaces


Winter 2021 Iowa Architect
Winter 2020 Iowa Architect

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography / Ford and Brown