Innovative architect picked for Kum & Go HQ
Kum & Go has hired the Italian architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design its new downtown headquarters.
Kum & Go has hired the firm of Renzo Piano, an Italian architect known for museums and skyscrapers, to design its new headquarters in downtown Des Moines, CEO Kyle Krause said Thursday.
The announcement provides the latest clue as to what shape Kum & Go's new $92 million office facing the Pappajohn Sculpture Park will take.
The Renzo Piano Building Workshop's resume includes projects in London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. The firm designed the New York Times Building, the Art Institute of Chicago's modern wing, the California Academy of Sciences and The Shard, an 87-floor London skyscraper.
Local architects have praised the firm for its high-tech designs and innovative uses of natural light and ventilation.
Krause said he chose Piano because of the firm's ability to emphasize collaboration, transparency and light.
"What we want to do is create the best environment for our associates," he said. "Architecturally, sure, they'll do a great job, but it's really about that inside space and what you can create inside the building that is best for our people."
Kum & Go announced plans earlier this year to leave its West Des Moines corporate office and build a new, 120,000-square-foot headquarters along Grand Avenue between 14th and 15th streets. Officials with the convenience store chain say the project is expected to be complete in 2017.
The process of designing the new office is just beginning, so it's unclear exactly what the building will look like. Krause said he envisions the main entrance facing Grand Avenue and the sculpture park with shops or restaurants on the street-level to help bring more pedestrian activity to the area.
The building would be several stories tall, but it's not yet clear how many. Krause said the site will likely include parking for employees.
Kum & Go officials have said the new headquarters will house about 300 employees initially, but will likely include space for the company to grow.
Local architects say the project will require restraint; the building should frame the sculpture park without drawing too much attention from it.
Krause said he agreed.
"What you want to do is have a building that can relate with the sculpture garden in the best way possible and not compete with the sculpture garden," he said.
The Renzo Piano Building Workshop was one of six internationally-known architecture firms Kum & Go considered for the project. Experts said the list shows Krause is aiming to create a landmark building.
Krause said he has been personally and professionally impressed by Piano.
"We had a chance to meet Renzo, talk to him," Krause said. "He's a great down-to-earth guy who we think can create the space that creates the transparency, the collaboration, the openness for our people to have a nice work space."