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Construction Progresses On Des Moines University's New $250M Campus

Wed February 02, 2022 - Midwest Edition #3
Cindy Riley – CEG Correspondent


Conventional construction equipment includes three 300-ton capacity cranes and four supplemental 100-ton all-terrain cranes used to support the construction of the four buildings.
(DMU photo)
Conventional construction equipment includes three 300-ton capacity cranes and four supplemental 100-ton all-terrain cranes used to support the construction of the four buildings. (DMU photo)
Conventional construction equipment includes three 300-ton capacity cranes and four supplemental 100-ton all-terrain cranes used to support the construction of the four buildings.
(DMU photo)
Building the new campus will cost approximately $250 million for all phases of design, excavation and construction.
(DMU photo) Geothermal well work continues to progress, along with numerous site activities, including public sidewalks, underground utilities and selective roadways.
(DMU photo) Nearly 400,000 cu. yds. of materials was imported to the site to raise the elevation of the site safely above the floodplain mapping.
(DMU photo) Main equipment needed to build the new campus includes earthwork scrapers, bulldozers and excavators used extensively for the site work and underground utilities.
(DMU photo) Turner Construction serves as the general contractor of the new campus.
(DMU photo) As the school prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary, officials are overseeing construction on the 88-acre site, located in West Des Moines.
(DMU photo) The ribbon cutting won’t take place until 2023, but a new campus for Des Moines University (DMU) is already taking shape. As the school prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary, officials are overseeing construction on the 88-acre site, located in West Des Moines.
(DMU photo)

The ribbon cutting won't take place until 2023, but a new campus for Des Moines University (DMU) is already taking shape. As the school prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary, officials are overseeing construction on the 88-acre site, located in West Des Moines.

"For years, we've had a strong vision of growth for the university," said Angela Walker Franklin, DMU president and chief executive officer. "In our current location on Grand Avenue, we are landlocked and cannot expand our facilities and parking to permit the growth we want to pursue. As we began our search for possible sites, we had the good fortune to meet the McKinney family of West Des Moines and discuss our plans for serving future generations of students and the community at large. They immediately became excited about the vision for the new campus, and the vital services we will provide for the greater Des Moines region."

DMU is the second oldest osteopathic medical school and the fifteenth largest medical school in the United States. During the next few years, officials anticipate the campus will include approximately 350 employees and 1,600 students. The school also will serve as a community resource, able to host special events and other activities.

"As part of our strategic planning process, expanding our programs and engagement with the community are top priorities," said Franklin. "To realize our vision of expansion, we needed more physical space to grow, because we are restricted in our current footprint.

"DMU is resetting its vision to remain a national, premiere medicine and health sciences university serving the community and the world. During this exploration, our entire campus community has been engaged in the creative and strategic planning process that will ensure we create an exciting university environment that supports advanced medicine and health sciences education and research, as well as clinical services for residents of the region."

Franklin said another priority in the development of the new campus has been delivering top quality academic programs, training and clinical services for the community.

"DMU will continue to advance our pioneering work in diversity, equity and inclusion, ensuring we continue to provide a welcoming environment for all, so that cultural humility, health equity and compassionate patient- centered care is woven into the training of all students.

"DMU has the privilege to build an entirely new campus from the ground up. This means we have the opportunity to bring the latest technologies and teaching modalities to bear to the benefit of all students, faculty and staff. Our steering committee and academic leaders conducted best-practice research visits to other educational institutions and health care facilities to learn about the latest trends and technologies."

Building the new campus will cost approximately $250 million for all phases of design, excavation and construction.

"In our planning and design for the new campus, we purposely explored and are pursuing well-building concepts that will make use of the most advanced environmental controls to provide the highest quality air handling, water management, use of natural light, the latest ergonomic applications and creative use of landscaping features across the whole property. The four campus buildings are also all linked with glass pathways that tie the campus together. The new campus is designed purposefully to fuel collaboration and innovation in all dimensions."

Franklin noted that the land that will be home to the new campus was shaped by what is known to geologists as the "Edge of Advancement" of what was the Wisconsin Glacier.

"More than 10,000 years ago it moved south across North America, shaping the land as it moved. This parcel of land is the product of the Des Moines Lobe of that glacier. It came to rest at the center of this property and created the definition of a defining hill above the flat expanse of land. As we build our new university from the ground up, our campus community has been mindful of making respectful use of this property, and to build with the highest standards of sustainability and ecological responsibility."

For the last two years, DMU has been planning the medical and health sciences university of the future. The new campus will advance the educational transformation the university envisions.

"With our architectural and design partner, RDG Planning and Design, our steering committee has spent countless hours above and beyond daily responsibilities to keep this complex project on an aggressive timeline. Literally thousands of hours of research, institutional site visits, master planning and design have gone into the creation of this new campus.

"From the very first discussions of this vision and plan, everyone on campus and off has been excited and amazed concerning the future of this university. Ours is a rare project, and that we are pursuing it against the backdrop of the ensuing pandemic makes it ever more special. We also are committed to keeping the campus community, as well as the friends, alumni and valuable donors of DMU, updated on the project."

Franklin also said flexible environments allow for new-age learning.

"Today's students prefer and have come to expect collaborative learning environments that more easily spur small group exploration and problem solving, so all of our learning spaces, what we now call ‘learning studios', are flexible with various configuration possibilities. But we also know learning and scholarship occurs beyond the traditional classroom; therefore, the campus design includes abundant common spaces for discussion, demonstrations and shared experiences."

Turner Construction serves as the general contractor. John Quigley, Turner project executive, said the undertaking is not without its challenges.

"The compounded and multi-leveled impacts of the global supply chain has put an unprecedented burden on all the respective teams. But, so far, we have been able to meet our critical path milestones with sufficient and creative planning and negotiations."

Structural steel erection is proceeding on both the Innovation and the Edge of Advancement building, and the campus support building's structural concrete decks are being formed. In addition, the geothermal well work continues to progress, along with numerous site activities, including public sidewalks, underground utilities and selective roadways.

Nearly 400,000 cu. yds. of materials was imported to the site to raise the elevation of the site safely above the floodplain mapping.

Completion of the vertical concrete on all buildings is among the project's milestones, along with commencement of structural steel erection.

Quigley said weather will be a factor for the outside construction until the work is completed.

Main equipment needed to build the new campus includes earthwork scrapers, bulldozers and excavators used extensively for the site work and underground utilities. Conventional construction equipment includes three 300-ton capacity cranes and four supplemental 100-ton all-terrain cranes used to support the construction of the four buildings.

Completion is scheduled for December 2022. For Quigley and his team, the assignment is significant on several levels.

"This project serves as the flagship project to launch our new Des Moines Business Unit. We will use this platform to continue to support the development and construction needs of our clients, to continue to use these large projects as opportunities to become better ambassadors and stewards in central Iowa for community and citizenship inclusiveness, and provide professional opportunities for our employees in the future." CEG




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