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Architectural trends


The Business Record spoke with Scott Hatfield, president of SVPA Architects, about architectural trends in Central Iowa. His company’s recent projects include Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc.’s headquarters in West Des Moines and Rain and Hail LLC’s headquarters in Johnston. He recently received the 2004 Architect Excellence Award from the Master Builders of Iowa. The annual award honors an architect or engineer “who best exemplifies the tenets of the Master Builders of Iowa organization: skill, integrity and responsibility.”

Q: There seem to be a lot of large commercial projects in the western suburbs. Are many of your projects on this large a scale?

A: Not really; our practice is a variety of sizes. The large-scale projects are really rare in this market. For office buildings, the $10 million to $15 million range is pretty common, which represents about a 100,000-square-foot project. Many of the projects we’ve worked on in the past few months, such as the Rain and Hail LLC headquarters and National Travelers Life, (now EMC National Life Co.) are about that size. Hy-Vee’s corporate headquarters is a little larger than that. Of course, there have been some larger projects. We just finished up Allied Insurance, which is 500,000 square feet, and the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage headquarters, which is 435,000 square feet.

Q: How does clients identify their priorities for features when they work with you to design a building?

A: We go through what’s called a programming process for new projects. As part of that project, the clients identify their goals and needs for the project. They can be general in nature, or they can be very specific.

Q: How can a building add to the productivity or bottom line of a company? What are ways that you look for to maximize a business’s efficiency?

A: I think we’ve seen a trend by most companies to reduce the amount of square footage allocated for individual workstations. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re building less space; they’re allocating less space on a per-person basis, which means more parking and more people per building. It’s really based upon the task they have to complete. We’re seeing companies that no longer have private offices as part of the facility, and as a result, the amount of space you have goes up because you don’t have the space taken up by the walls. It’s something that we’re seeing for all levels of management, and it’s certainly becoming more typical.

The other thing is having an energy-efficient, sustainable building that will minimize energy and maintenance costs. In terms of energy efficiency, buildings are becoming more efficient and less expensive to operate over time.

Q: What other factors have affected the design of buildings?

A: In just the past three or four months, the cost of steel has gone up, so that has an impact on the cost of buildings if they’re using steel. … Since September 2001, security has also become a very important criterion for any new building. There are different levels of sophistication; some are as simple as card access into a building, up to palm readers.

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