Discovery

A place to share our ideas, expertise, and lessons learned.

Outdoor Adventure Programs Gain Traction on College Campuses

The surge in environmental awareness at colleges and universities nationwide corresponds with increased interest in outdoor adventures programs. On the whole, though, outdoor programs exist in found space on most campuses, and not much of it — 3,000 square feet tucked into the lower level of the recreation center, perhaps, with lack of visibility and storage being ongoing issues.…

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The Missing Middle Housing in the Midwest

Affordable housing has always been a concern across the country, but multiple factors over the past decade have raised more specific concerns for housing our workforce. The discussion in recent months has expanded to include not just the need for housing, but the type of housing units these particular households need, including rowhouses, duplexes, apartment courts, townhomes, live/work units, and smaller midsized houses.…

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Transforming Community Downtowns

Historic districts are an important aspect to our cities and towns; helping communities realize their full potential is something we are passionate about.  Currently, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are a funding mechanism that assists Iowa communities like the City of Adel, City of Storm Lake, City of Montezuma, and the City of Cherokee to transform their downtowns into vibrant business centers. …

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The Impact Placemaking can have on a College Campus

The process of “placemaking,” a concept that for half a century has been more common to the public realm, can help transform private campuses and campus life.

Maple trees loom large in the history of Simpson College, and in the icons and narratives created to celebrate it.…

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Green House model redefines culture of senior living and elder healthcare

As the population of elders in America is experiencing considerable growth, decades-old nursing homes around the country are in various stages of deterioration and elder care providers in need of solutions are exploring innovative alternatives to the traditional, institutional, and medical-based environments of generations past – finding answers in models that are based on ‘home’.…

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Branding our Parks System

Creating a Competitive Edge – with a Coordinated Parks Graphic System –

Our park systems have a multitude of competitors vying for their user’s eye and attention. Between man-made destination water parks, to indoor digital driving ranges, to digital devices which encourage park users to look more at their phone than their surroundings, our parks and park systems are in need of attention.…

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How Communities can benefit from Greenways

Long and linear, greenways are grassy or vegetated areas that can be created and cultivated or reclaimed and improved for public recreation use. Unlike a typical park, greenway trails are designed to get people somewhere, so they may connect parks, link communities or even create a regional or statewide network for non-motoroized transportation.…

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Farming the Gold of Design Residency 2015

Our 2015 Design Residency topic focused on “Urban Alchemy.” We wanted to identify how cities can combine existing and proposed urban elements and spin them into social, economic, and environmental gold. We engaged ten of the top collegiate students from across the Midwest in our design residency process, and challenged them to address a loosely-bounded district in downtown Des Moines near the riverfront that included 24-acres of proposed “re-invigoration” projects.…

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Natural lighting in architectural design: a conversation with architect Stuart Shell

Why is natural lighting such an important part of today’s design philosophy? How does natural light accentuate other design elements? How long has the emphasis on natural light been such a primary focus of architectural design, and have the appetites for daylighting from building owners changed over the years?

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A simple renovation: Transforming office culture by improving indoor environmental quality

Last year, RDG realized a remarkable shift in employee satisfaction, though the accomplishment was not achieved through salary adjustments or management policies. However, we did strategically enhance aspects of the physical office environment by using research-based assessment tools to measure occupant comfort, and then completed a small renovation project targeting the areas identified.…

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