American Enterprise Group - AEG

Project Information

  • Owner


  • Location

    Des Moines, IA

  • Architect


  • General Contractor

    Ryan Companies US, Inc.

  • Engineer

    Design Engineers

  • Square Footage


  • Baker Group Scope


  • Year Completed


Originally designed by renowned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architect Gordon Bunshaft, downtown Des Moines’ iconic AEG building was aging. Outdated and inefficient mechanical systems, the lack of a sprinkler system and the need for new lighting put the eight-story building at risk of being demolished. But because the 50-year-old building was considered historically significant, Des Moines’ architectural community rallied to preserve it. AEG assembled a design and construction team, which was charged with integrating the needed updates – all while maintaining the building’s unique and contemporary architectural features.

Baker Group provided entirely new plumbing and HVAC systems, which also involved Baker Group’s Sheet Metal and Building Automation Systems (BAS) services. As a result of the renovation, electrical consumption and water costs fell by nearly half over the prior year.

Collaboration Produces Desired Results

Baker Group worked closely with the owner and other members of the construction team to overcome these key challenges:

  • Maintain the look of exposed perforated diffusers. Each floor was originally designed with massive steel diffuser tubes (HVAC outlet vents) running through beams. Not only were these beginning to deteriorate, but they also occupied the space where new lighting and a sprinkler system would need to be installed.

“We used 3-D modeling to create 10 different mockups that would retain the look of those diffusers – which were three-quarter circles with flat tops. These designs concealed the new lighting and sprinkler system above the diffusers,” explains Mike Lipp, Project Manager with Baker Group.

“Creating the new diffusers involved sheet metal, fire protection and lighting. In itself, that aspect of the project required a lot of collaboration,” Lipp says.

  • Install new air distribution systems in small spaces. Collaboration among trades was also vital to fit new air distributions into existing shafts on the building’s east and west sides. “We had to work very closely with the architect, electrician and building automation team to fit all of those into very limited space,” Lipp adds.
  • Execute a non-traditional production schedule. Renovation projects typically occur in a top-down order, one floor at a time. Because of the unique nature of this project, Baker Group advised working from the east to west. With agreement from the full construction team, the project schedule was revised, shaving four months off the schedule. The entire project was completed in just 10 months.

“This project demonstrates that you can take an iconic building and retrofit to save energy, be safer and deliver a comfortable environment without greatly impacting the aesthetics of the original building,” Lipp adds.

Back To Historical Renovation Projects