BBS Architects Engineers

Polk County

Owner: Polk County

Architectural Design Services: BBS Architects | Engineering; Foresite/RDG

Sports Facility Consultant: HOK Sports Facilities Group

Engineering Consultant: Thorton Tomasetti; Flack + Kurtz

Engineering Design Services: BBS Architects | Engineers

Construction Completed: 2005

Project Data: 358,000 sf (16,000 seat) events arena; 234,600 SF exhibition hall; renovation of Veterans Memorial Auditorium

Construction Cost: $220,000,000


Client Need: With the promise of enhanced quality of life and improved economic opportunities, Polk County Officials proposed a project that will provide a new arena and additional exhibition space in Downtown Des Moines. This project is one of the steps to keep young people in Iowa, attract new businesses to our state, retain the quality of employees who live here today, and provide a brighter future for Iowa.


BBS Approach: The project consists of 2 new buildings that connect to the current Veterans Memorial Auditorium creating the Iowa Events Center. The complex includes exhibition space, meeting halls, and a 16,000 seat arena for a variety of events. BBS's role as associate architect included contributions to the conceptual design of the entire complex, the design of the exterior shell of the Exhibit Hall, the design of the link between all three facilities, and the renovation of Veterans Memorial Auditorium. BBS provided the electrical and mechanical design for the entire Iowa Events Center Complex. 

The mechanical engineering required systems to be versatile and efficient. Numerous energy savings measures were incorporated into the plant design; variable speed chiller compressors, variable speed chilled water and hot water pumping, and modular cooling tower operation. Proper, specific sequence of operation of this plant is critical to maintain peak performance, and sequences were designed in detail as a result. The requirement for an ice floor in the arena drove a system design predicated upon maintaining the proper dew point in the arena bowl, and strict thermal protection of equipment and systems to avoid condensation on piping.

Electrical systems in the structures are vast and complex. Extensive coordination with MidAmerican Energy was conducted to ensure proper protection and metering provisions were made for the complex. This was done for all three 15kV utility feeders, which supply up to 21 megawatts of power for this large event complex. BBS used SKM Power Tools electrical modeling software to analyse load flows, calculate fault currents, and to ensure the protective device coordination. 

Miles and miles of conduit, ductwork, and piping snake throughout this facility to make it one of the most sophisticated and impressive installations in the State of Iowa.

Project Results:

  1. 16,000 seat arena to host sporting events, concerts, and other large events

  2. 234,600 sf exhibition hall for conferences and exhibitions

  3. Renovations to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium

  4. Connection to all three of these buildings to create the Iowa Events Center Complex

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