Stewardship through Design and Policy

On November 6-8, nine of the Midwest’s top graduate students in a variety of disciplines converged on the metro area as a mini think-tank, exploring the impact of policy and design and the environment. This was RDG’s 3rd Annual Design Residency, where we present students with a real-world challenge. We immerse them in dialogue with experts. Then we facilitate their collaboration and magic happens. “The strength of the residency stems from these diverse viewpoints honing in on a real-world challenge. Past results have been innovative, pragmatic, and exciting,” says Residency Co-chair Mike Bell of RDG.

This year RDG and visiting students partnered with Riley Resources, an agriculture-based business, who recently relocated its headquarter to Pleasant Hill and desired to create a public amenity on the shores of Copper Creek. 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. Riley Resources sits within this corridor, of bio-economic vitality that is 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.
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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.
The multi-disciplined design residents play multiple roles in achieving Riley’s goals. They function as the owner’s representative, guiding seasoned professionals as they document a vision for the site. They collaborate in the 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 evaluate business models that let Riley and others capture full ecosystem benefits while making money and promoting personal and public health.
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Bob Riley was “floored” with the resident’s visionary presentation to convert his new building site at Copper Creek from private-property to dynamic, public amenity and example for the region.
“The results from this year’s efforts has the potential for short and long term impacts on this region’s ability to create dynamic places of lasting value – beginning in Pleasant Hill but hopefully spreading across the Metro,” notes RDG Principal Phil Hodgin.
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For more highlights check out the website

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