ARAG – 500 Grand Tenant Improvement Project

Project Information

  • Owner

    Lawmark Capital, Winnepeg CA

  • Location

    Des Moines, IA

  • Architect

    Slingshot Architecture

  • Square Footage

    41,000 for TI for ARAG

  • Year Completed



Since constructed in 1987, this downtown Des Moines building has had multiple uses – as a movie theatre, school, retail shops and even restaurants. To prepare the three-story building and adjoining eight-story parking garage for its newest tenant – ARAG, a legal insurance company – Baker Group was contracted to design-build new smoke control/fire alarm and access control systems.

Facility’s history creates multiple challenges.
Jamie Knutson, Baker Group Project Manager, says the previous fire alarm system operated by zones, which did not meet current fire safety standards. Additionally, the system had been modified several times based on prior tenants’ specific needs.

“We have a long history of working on this building, so we had a good understanding of the building and its systems. Still, we had to do a lot of investigative work to unravel the complexities and enable our fire alarm engineers to design-build the new system. We chose the new Gamewell FCI system for its ability to accommodate the complex requirements,” Knutson says.

Additionally, the architect’s design included a three-story interior atrium, where the smoke control system would reside. “No one wants to see conduits and devices interrupting the open feel of that space,” Knutson says. Therefore, Baker Group’s designers strategically placed system components in a way that minimizes their visibility.

Single parking access credentials for multiple facilities.
Baker Group also provides the parking access control system for the adjoining parking ramp. As part of the tenant improvement project, a new Salto access control system was installed. This uses a single security credential for all three buildings and parking ramps owned by Lawmark Capital.

Multiple business units support project success.
Knutson believes that few fire alarm companies would be able to address the extensive challenges presented by the 500 Grand TI project. “We are fortunate to have immediate access to a wide range of expertise and engineers at Baker Group who help one another, regardless of what business units are on the project,” he says.

In addition to Fire Alarm and Parking Access Revenue Control, other Baker Group business units that positively impacted the ARAG project include Design, Security and Electrical.

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