Discovery

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

The Dam Plan – A Place For All

There has been an urgent call recently to connect people back to natural places, especially in urban settings. Research shows people are more likely to advocate and care for their environment when they have a strong attachment to a place. In Des Moines, one of the greatest resources we have—the reason the city is located here in the first place—is the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, which flow through the metro and connect south of Principal Park.…

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Clear Strategic Principles to Planning

This is first in a series of articles sharing insights from our work with St. Cloud State University’s (SCSU’s) Comprehensive Facilities Planning process – a rich experience, full of learning for all!

It’s a basic tenet of planning that clear, aligned, strategic principles, articulated and understood from the highest level and throughout an institution, are foundational for a successful plan.…

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Creative Placemaking: Storytelling About People and Culture

The term “Creative Placemaking” has become one of those overused phrases or buzzwords that has either lost its meaning, or perhaps, never achieved the significant denotation that would help establish a common language. How did this happen? So often, we begin to categorize and label, to help us talk about concepts that aren’t always so easy to understand.…

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What’s So Special About that Farmhouse?

And what does it take to preserve its history?

The one and a half story, wood-framed structure sits just off Highway 141, south of Coon Rapids, Iowa. It could be a farmhouse on almost any Iowa country road: unassuming, practical, a cobbled-together mass of additions and renovations that has served hard working farm families through the years.…

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When there’s too much and not enough

In 2014, St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota had too much, and not enough. Like many institutions of higher education, SCSU found itself with too much aging infrastructure competing for limited deferred maintenance dollars, too much capital wrapped up in facilities that didn’t meet current and future needs, and – maybe surprisingly – just too much real estate.…

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Why Does a City Invest in Restoring an Historic Property?

Hotel Maytag in Newton, IA Offers Great Reasons

“The City realized the building was going to go further downhill unless something was done. We stepped in, bought the building and began to search for a developer.”

So says Craig Armstrong, economic development specialist for the City of Newton, Iowa, about the distinctive and once-grand Hotel Maytag.…

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Historic Design Guidelines Benefit the Community

Impressive homes, churches and other historic buildings dot the Heritage Hill Historic District in Burlington, Iowa, overlooking the downtown and giving unique character to this Mississippi River town. That character can translate to visitor and tourism economic gold in a community – if property owners and community members understand both the why and the how of appropriately preserving, restoring, and/or rehabilitating historic structures.…

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Creating a Living Laboratory on Your Campus

More colleges and universities are discovering the benefits of planning and implementing campus landscapes that are more than function and aesthetics but are transforming the campus into a “living laboratory.” These integrated learning environments are fostering strategic use of the exterior environment, connecting students to real-world applications, establishing new multipurpose spaces, and will continue to evolve as education demands change.…

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Public Art is Realizing Potential, Connecting Communities and Building Vitality

The community of Waukee is bringing public art and infrastructure together to realize the full potential of the tri-county Raccoon River Valley Trail and its exceptional 72-mile trail loop. The newly dedicated “Waukee Railroad Pergola: In the Shadow of the Rails” is a dynamic integration of public-art and infrastructure based on the history of the railroad in the development of the City of Waukee.…

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Building Structure Investigations with Drones

Modern technology gives Architects access to places ladders can not reach, saving time and money.

When RDG investigated window and stone conditions at the Iowa State Capitol building over 20 years ago, invasive and expensive tower cranes were brought on site to deliver the architects face to face with the building, over the course of a full week.…

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