If You Build It
Monday, July 7th, 2014
Photos by Timothy Hursley, timothyhursley.com
By Risa Seidman
When clients set foot inside ASK Studio’s new offices in Des Moines, Iowa, a single syllable often escapes their lips: “Wow.” The raw steel flooring in the front lobby usually is the visitors’ first point of interest. “They point to the floor and say, ‘What is this?’” explains Brent Schipper, principal at ASK Studio. “The floor actually bends up and becomes the front counter, and then actually morphs into the reception desk. When they see how the details come together, then it’s sort of like, ‘Let the tour begin.’”
The steel flooring isn’t the only unexpected building material found in ASK Studio’s 3,500-square-foot offices. “People always comment on the unique wood [in the office] and ask the species,” Schipper says. It turns out to be a vertical-grain fir, a common wood that is usually used for pre-fabricated trusses and not as a decorative wood.
“It is so common that it becomes unique when you celebrate it,” Schipper says.
Along with being an impressive window into ASK Studio’s operations, the offices also act as an inspiration board for the studio’s employees. “I like to think that we were doing good architectural work before the new studio,” Schipper says,“but I believe that being in this studio has an impact on how people feel about their job, how they feel about being an architect, and what they can achieve as an architect.” As the nearly year-long designing process progressed, the comfort of ASK’s workers became more and more of a priority. By the time the office was completed in the spring of 2013, the budget-friendly designs for the office’s 13 workstations were thrown out; each station now features an ergonomically designed keyboard tray and double monitor stand.
“Quality kept becoming more and more important,” Schipper says. “As we built it, we saw that we were creating something special, and we didn’t want to cut corners.”