Monday, January 31, 2011

Project365: Day 31 - Reviewing the Drawings

Contractor Duck is looking over the original existing drawings for one of our renovation projects. The original building (and the musty old plans) are from 1930.

It's gonna be wicked cold and windy and snowy in Des Moines over the next two days (the makings of a beautiful day if you are the Abominable Snowman). I'll do my best to still get my daily photos in the coming weather mess.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project365: Day 30 - Drake Diner

Day 30 - Drake Diner, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The sign above the door does not lie--the Drake Diner serves some of the most comforting comfort food I've ever eaten. From gigantic breakfasts (served all day) to hearty dinners and extra-super-thick milkshakes, I don't think I've ordered something that I didn't love.

The chrome and neon exterior makes for some fun night photography as well!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Project365: Day 29 - Apartment Fire

Day 29 - Apartment Fire (7), originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

I was planning to head downtown late tonight to take advantage of the clear skies and (slightly) warmer weather to get my Day 29 photo, but the events of the afternoon brought a change in plans.

Between 3:30 and 4:00 this afternoon, one of the buildings in my apartment complex caught fire. I'm quite thankful it was not my building. The thick plume of smoke rising from the building was visible from my balcony a few blocks away, and I'm sure people much farther away than me saw it as well.

Thinking that this might be one of those "be at the right place at the right time" kind of events, I grabbed my camera and walked over to the site of the fire. When I arrived, the fire crews were already on scene with multiple ladder trucks and were soaking the large fire from lots of angles. The West Des Moines Fire Marshal addressed a few members of the press and said that everyone was able to evacuate safely and there were no major injuries, but that they were still working to get the fire under control.

The building is badly damaged. I feel for all of the residents who lost their homes this evening. I pray that they are able to land on their feet and move forward with the help of our apartment complex and the Red Cross.

More photos of today's fire are posted on my Flickr Photostream.

Here is a direct link to the photo set.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Project365: Day 28 - Last Step

Day 28 - Last Step, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Watch out for that last step. It's a doozie.

Project365: Day 27 - Warm Light of the Sun

The days are definitely getting longer, which is a welcome change. I enjoy having at least a little daylight left to play with in photos after work.

This is the Des Moines Public Library designed by David Chipperfield. The exterior skin of the building is made of large panels that have a layer of bronzed perforated metal sandwiched between two layers of glass. The effect is actually quite interesting--during the day, the building seems opaque when viewed from outside, though occupants can see out into the park with ease. At night, the light within the library shines through the tiny holes in the metal mesh and the building, giving the building a very warm glow.

Once it really starts to get warmer I'll come back for a photo at night.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Project365: Day 26 - Capitol Square

Day 26 - Capitol Square, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Capital Square in Downtown Des Moines was supposed to be the central hub of the skywalk system. Minneapolis has the Crystal Court in the IDS Center, and Capital Square was intended to be the type of indoor commercial center for Des Moines.

Like the Crystal Court (though for different reasons) it has struggled to live up to its potential. Except for very occasional weekday lunch events and a twice-a-year indoor farmer's market the atrium is usually just as busy as the photo shows.

Project365: Day 25 - Mentorship

Day 25 - Mentorship, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

This is my second year volunteering with the ACE Mentor Program. This year I am the leader of a team of 29 high school students and 9 mentors. Each year we break the team into a Design group, Engineering Group, and Construction group. The three groups work with mentors who are professionals in their field and in collaboration with the other groups to create a design for a theoretical building. It's like doing a very large-group architecture school studio project with the collaborative help of engineers, construction managers, and construction tradesmen during the design process.

This year's project challenge is to design a local novelty T-Shirt store (think Raygun), event space, and cafe in an old brick dairy barn located in the East Village neighborhood of Des Moines. Using an existing building for a new use has presented these students with challenges that make them think critically and creatively as they solve the problems as a group.

Mentoring for ACE has been incredibly rewarding for me. It is always fun to see a new generation of future architects, engineers, and contractors get excited about creating a better community through design.

For more info on the ACE program nationally, go to

Monday, January 24, 2011

Project365: Day 24 - Heads Up

Day 24 - Heads Up, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

One of the Partners in our office brought in a bunch of these squishy rubber balls a few months ago. Now I get them thrown at me on a fairly regular basis.

To be fair, I probably throw the balls at my coworkers more than they get thrown back at me. Such a positive work environment :D

Project365: Day 23 - Architecture of Novelty

From Wikipedia:

Novelty architecture is a type of architecture in which buildings and other structures are given unusual shapes as a novelty, such as advertising, notoriety as a landmark, or simple eccentricity of the owner or architect. Many examples of novelty architecture take the form of buildings that resemble the products sold inside to attract drive-by customers.

Sadly, the building in this photo is not an R2D2 factory. HUGE disappointment.

Project365: Day 22 - Blacklight Bowling

Day 22 - Blacklight Bowling, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Project365: Day 21 - The Royal Mile

Day 21 - The Royal Mile, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Mmmmmm. The Royal Mile: Quite possibly my favorite place in all of Des Moines. Great beverages, awesome food, and a wonderfully authentic British Pub atmosphere. The Fullers taps at the end of the bar always remind me of our trip to London last spring. I know the fiance wants to go back as soon as possible, but until then at least we still have the Royal Mile in town.

Project365: Day 20 - Court Avenue

Day 20 - Court Avenue, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Court Avenue is the entertainment district in downtown Des Moines, and is usually pretty busy. This neighborhood is home to one of the country's largest Farmer's Markets on Saturday mornings in the summer. Due to the bitterly cold temperature, however, the sidewalks were pretty much empty on Court Avenue this evening. I guess everyone (smarter than me obviously) decided to stay warm inside Court Ave Brewing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Project365: Day 19 - Neighbors

Day 19 - Neighbors, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The EMC Tower and the Robertson Building in Downtown Des Moines.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project365: Day 18 - Mod and Post-Mod

Day 18 - Mod and Post-Mod, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The Modern/International style Ruan Center (right) and the Post-Modern style 801 Grand (left) are the two tallest buildings in Iowa. The Ruan Center owned the title from 1975 until 1991 when 801 Grand was finished. The orange-juicer top of 801 Grand seems to pay reference to the crown atop the Equitable Building in Downtown (I'll be sure to get a good photo of the Equitable crown soon for comparison).

801 Grand was recently featured, in impressive detail, in a the recently released Issue #707 of the Superman comic book. Here's the full story from the Des Moines Register.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project365: Day 17 - American Republic Building

Another Des Moines building designed by a famous architect! This is the American Republic Insurance Headquarters building in Downtown Des Moines. It was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and it was completed in 1965.

The building resembles a giant file cabinet containing six "drawers" of open office areas. The deep concrete floor structure holds up each successive level without any interior columns. All of the building's structural loads are carried down the side exterior walls.

Bunshaft was Partner and Chief Designer in SOM's New York office from 1949 until his retirement in 1979. His other notable works include the Lever House in New York City, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Project365: Day 16 - Ice Skating at Night

Brenton Skating Plaza in Downtown Des Moines

Project365: Day 15 - Snowshoeing in the Woods

Sitting around inside and staring out the window at winter was getting old, so we decided to go on a little outdoor adventure this weekend. We rented snowshoes from a local outdoors store and visited Browns Woods, one of our favorite Des Moines area parks. We hiked a little over 2 miles and even took a little off-trail detour for some deep snow geocaching.

Project365: Day 14 - Winter Oasis

Day 14 - Winter Oasis, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

It's no warm and sunny beach, but the open water created by the fountain in this pond always has a crowd of geese and ducks.

These Canada Geese must be from WAY up north if their idea of heading south for the winter means Central Iowa.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Project365: Day 13 - Foucault Pendulum

Day 13 - Foucault Pendulum, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

We visited the Science Center of Iowa today to view the travelling exhibit "Da Vinci: The Genius." No photography was permitted inside the exhibit, so I decided to take a photo that I've been wanting to do for some time now: the Foucault Pendulum.

The Science Center is one of the stops on the Downtown Des Moines architectural walking tour that I lead during the summer months. Every time I walk by to talk about the building, I get just a little bit distracted by watching the pendulum swing closer and closer to tipping over the next peg.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Project365: Day 12 - Hotel Kirkwood

Day 12 - Hotel Kirkwood, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The Hotel Kirkwood is another of my favorite local buildings. There has been a hotel at this location since 1850, though the Hotel Kirkwood was not built until 1929. The exterior and interior detailing is very typical of late 1920s/early 1930s Art Deco architecture. The 12-story building was used as a hotel until just a few years ago. The building has now been converted to residential units, but the Lobby (pictured) was beautifully restored as part of that conversion.

Project365: Day 11 - Frozen Hydrant

Day 11 - Frozen Hydrant, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Maybe living in the Tundra of North Dakota spoiled me, but I never feel right about Winter without lots of deep snow all over the ground.

We had a little bit of snow in Des Moines around Christmas time...until the temperature reached 65 degrees. In December.

After a few weeks of gross, blah, ugly, cold, and brown, Des Moines finally has a respectable amount of snow once again. Hopefully it sticks around a little while, as I've got weekend plans that are quite snow-dependent.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Project365: Day 9 - All Saints Catholic Church

Our church back home in the Twin Cities. This will always be one of my favorite buildings.

My fiance and I will be getting married here later this year! :D

Project365: Day 8 - Cranky Cat Nap

Day 8 - Cranky Cat Nap, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

My fiance and I were up in the Twin Cities this weekend taking care of some wedding planning stuff. Her cat, Snickers, didn't seem to impressed that I had disturbed her nap to take her picture.

People and animals: photo subjects that I struggle with shooting. I plan to do more photos of both during this project to (hopefully) get less awkward in photographing them.

Project365: Day 7 - Frosty Landscape

Day 7 - Frosty Landscape, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

Taken outside the headquarters of Meredith Corporation (think Better Homes and Gardens) in Des Moines.

I used my 35mm f/1.8 lens for this shot. I've had the lens for a while now, but need to use it more. I always love the composition and focus of the shots I get with it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Project365: Day 6 - West Des Moines Library

I've lived in the Des Moines area for over a year and a half now, and tonight was my first visit to the West Des Moines Library.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Project365: Day 5 - Structural Gnomes

Day 5 - Structural Gnomes, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

This is my first Project 365 photo featuring people!

Well, sort of. Gnomes are people, too.

The Equitable Building in Des Moines was completed in 1924. It was designed by Proudfoot, Bird, and Rawson (a predecessor of Brooks Borg Skiles, my current employer). A pair of these awesome little gnomes are working hard to support the building at each of the perimeter columns.

Proudfoot and Bird demonstrated a wonderful sense of humor in many of their buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s in Iowa. Other places to see their humorous handiwork in Des Moines include the Polk County Courthouse and Roosevelt High School.

I think the idea that architecture can be funny got lost somewhere between Mid-Century Modernism and today. I'll try to capture more of these funny figures and faces in Des Moines throughout the rest of my Project 365.

Project365: Day 4 - Des Moines Skyline at Night

From the steps of the Iowa State Capital building looking down Locust.

I've come to really like the Des Moines skyline since moving to Iowa, but my architecture-dominated brain can't help but dream of better things for the image of Downtown. At certain angles the skyline has some gaping holes where you can see right through downtown.

I know, I know. Des Moines is no Chicago or even Saint Paul. But a few more prominent shapes peeking up above the mid-rises would be nice. If I'm lucky maybe I will get to help add them someday.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project365: Day 3 - Des Moines Art Center

I would say that this is one of my favorite buildings in Des Moines, but that wouldn't be true. This is, in fact, THREE of my favorite buildings.

The original Art Center building (pictured) was designed by Eliel Saarinen and completed in 1948. The second wing (boxy concrete, south side of museum) was designed by I.M. Pei and completed in 1968. The third and final wing (porcelain, granite, and metal) was designed by Richard Meier and completed in 1985.

Project365: Day 2 - Rusty Ruan

Rusty Ruan, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The Ruan Building in Des Moines was the tallest building in Iowa for 16 years (1975 to 1991, surpassed by 801 Grand). The building is locally notable for its rusted exterior.

The exterior of the the building is comprised of Corten steel and glass. Corten steel was used to prolong the life of the exterior. The steel is designed to intentionally rust on its outer surface. The rust acts as a protectant surface, making paint or other coatings unnecessary.

In most major cities, the Corten steel begins to turn a very dark brown or black color through weathering and airborne pollution adhering to the rusty exterior over time. Yet 35 years after its construction, the Ruan center is still a relatively bright rusty red color. Why is that?

Because the air in Des Moines is just too clean.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Project365: Day 1 - Forgotten Faith

Day 1: Forgotten Faith, originally uploaded by Tim Bungert.

The (Former) First Church of Christ Scientist. Des Moines, Iowa.

Built in 1931, this church has been out of use for some time. Mother Nature has already begun to reclaim this building in many areas including the main entry plaza and sidewalk.