The intersection of technology and biology meets not at a corner, but along a corridor. A swathe of urban, rural, farm and highway with hubs in Greater Des Moines and Ames, Iowa captures the imagination of business and government leaders. They see bio-economic vitality emerging along I-35/I-235 and resonating throughout Central Iowa as an innovation core of the heartland - generating ideas, businesses, jobs, and exceptional lifestyle choices.
Students of 2013's RDG Design Residency explored one specific site within this larger context. Bob Riley, President and CEO of Riley Resources, moved his bio-economy based business to a site near the University Ave and I-235 interchange in Pleasant Hill, a community nestled in the southeastern quadrant of Greater Des Moines.
Early projects matter for the bio-economy core to achieve its full potential. Riley, one of the Des Moines area's key business leaders, knows this well. He wants to mark this territory with a site design paying homage to its prairie roots and reaping full ecological and social benefits.
He also wants to dig new philosophical turf. Which business models let Riley and others capture full ecosystem benefits while making money and promoting personal and public health?
The multi-disciplined design residents played multiple roles in working towards the achievement of Riley's goals. They functioned as owner's representative, guiding seasoned professionals as they documented a vision for the site. They collaborated in a design as creators in their own right and as a target audience (examples of the skilled, innovative, brain-trusters) for living and working in bio-economy core.
They also partnered with Riley and the larger business community to uncover or craft new business models to keep the larger bio-economy vision viable and vibrant.
At the end of the intense three day residency, students presented a concept of the site as 'The Edge'- an area for the exploration of where two become one, a meeting place, and a boundary where industry meets ecology. Riley Resources becomes a cutting edge, darting into the future.
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