Development news, discussion and photographs in Downtown Des Moines.
#112 by NewHtsDSM
Tue Jul 20, 2004 9:57 am
DM is in such a positive upswing that I don't want to dampen that, but I really think that John Ruan should spend some big money in his final years to deal with the appearance of his Ruan Center.

As one famous architect once said "it is one of the grimmest office buildings of any American city." Ryan and I emailed eachother about this awhile back at, and I know the options are probably few, but the building is just really ugly with the rust streaming down its sides.

Granted, it is great to have its height on the skyline and from far away and at night, it looks great, but geez to see it up close in daylight it is really awful.

This doesn't take anything away from Mr. Ruan himself either, because he has been a major catalyst for several of the towers we do have downtown. He is a major reason we have the best skyline of any city this size in the country.

I'm just thinking that some kind of facade that would give the Center a much more attractive look like the Woodmen Tower in Omaha. Those two buildings are about the same age, but Ruan looks far older. Maybe it is cost prohibitive.
#117 by Des Moineser
Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:10 pm
It was supposed to be a prettier greenish-brown or something because it used a special color changing steel... but it came out rust color.
#119 by DMRyan
Tue Jul 20, 2004 3:01 pm
Yeah, the core-ten steel was supposed to be all the rage back in the 1970's and 1980's, but never lived up to its hype because of the coloring/rust problem. I think it was supposed to be able to weather much better because the steel was already rusticated, but the result came out much worse in the long term. NewHts is right though, from a distance the building looks fine. Up close, it looks worse than a 1976 pinto parked on the east side.

I've heard that the Ruan Center is the tallest building in America that uses Core-ten rusticated metal cladding.

On a side note, my father works for the company that was once known as Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel (you might remember their offices and the large fabricating plant on SW 9th Street). They were the company that built the St. Louis Arch, fabricated the steel for the Ruan Center and built almost every water tower around, including the 1st steel water tower in Iowa. Unfortunately, the company relocated to Houston, changed names and is now a giant in construction of tanks and gas lines for the petroleum industry. I'll have to ask my father about the alleged merits of using core-ten steel for skyscrapers.
#33389 by 4th&Court
Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:44 pm
I noticed recently that the Ruan wasn't lighting up at night like usual. In fact, when I thought back, I couldn't remember the last time it was outlined in red. Had to have been a month or so.

Tonight, it's lit up again. Same design, but now it's in WHITE light. It's very sharp and has a classy look to it. The only downside is, as usual, many burnt out lights. However, it's really not that distracting. The new color (probably not that new, as I think I can remember it being in white light not long ago) creates a very nice contrast against the night sky.
#33404 by Cyclonefan
Tue Nov 21, 2006 5:13 pm
thats probably why theyu havent been on for a while. They were switching lights.
#33408 by DMRyan
Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:34 pm
It's nice to have this building lit on the skyline again, although I wish the lighting scheme were a little classier. I defintely like the white lights more than the red ones though.
#33424 by dsmLA
Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:14 pm
I love exterior lighting, but Ruan looks so tacky compared to 801 right by it. I wish they would spend a little money and do something cool with LED's to outline the building instead of oversized Christmas lights.
#33427 by 4th&Court
Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:28 pm
Exactly. I like the spirit of the lighting, but the huge Christmas lights seem to NEVER be at 100% functionality. If they were, I doubt we'd even notice that they amounted to the same lights used in amusement parks. LED's would be sweet and they would last a long time too. Overall, though, I am happy because for a while it was looking like they'd decided to stop lighting it. Given the fact that there are now gaps in the white lights, I'm wondering if they simply changed the bulbs and are using the same string. Otherwise, I'd want my money back given that brand-new lights are full of non-working bulbs.
#33453 by Des Moineser
Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:28 am
Personally, I think the building looks better with the lights off. Now if they were switching lights, why are they still burnt out, I would like it better if they all worked.

Also, the LEDs will never happen, though I'm assuming you mean neon tubes, because LEDs are really only used in video boards. A specialized neon system could cost up to $40,000 a month to maintain. We know they won't maintain what they have, and they won't install a lighting system either.
#33454 by Des Moineser
Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:43 am
And besides, they switch the lights to white every winter, and red for the rest of the year.
#33459 by dsmLA
Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:11 am
Actually, I use LED lights in most of my projects now (exterior lighting).
#33466 by Des Moineser
Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:56 pm
Sorry, did not know that. How big of projects do you work on?
#33471 by dsmLA
Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:58 pm
Certainly not my project, but this is an example of LED lights on the exterior of a building.

#33472 by DMRyan
Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:25 pm
Does the new Wells Fargo Building downtown have LED lights installed? That building definitely has some neat stuff going on at night now.
#33486 by NOG's Wife
Thu Nov 23, 2006 2:02 am
LED lights are really common these days...just check out the Christmas light sections at any of the big box retailers, and you'll find a good selection of LED string lights.

NOG and I were talking about this tonight and both agree that we personally prefer the red lights to the white on the Ruan building., if they really want to stand out, they should go for something like purple. :lol:
#33516 by DMRyan
Sun Nov 26, 2006 10:39 pm
The white lights on this building are growing on me. I defintely like the white better than the red.
#33526 by 4th&Court
Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:40 pm
Yep. They look alot less tacky, even with the burnt out spots. I hope they keep them this way.
#33528 by Ingersoll1978
Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:43 pm
I think if Ruan wants to get serious with the lighting scheme...adding LED panels to the sides would make a HUGE impact on the skyline. I noticed the white on the building as we drove in looks alright. I wonder why he would have it red at other times and white for the Holidays. You'd think it would be the other way around. :D
#33654 by Cyclonefan
Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:21 pm
they should do that, be able to make designs and all, in el paso i saw that they have a tall building with color lights that formed an american flag with colors and all. The kansas city mariot has all types of things that go across the building that they change. IT Is AWSUME

this isnt that amazing compared to what it can do. Ive seen santas and so forth go across it during christmas!
#33656 by dogbo
Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:48 pm
Last year the Marriot had a Christmas tree design using different windows on the appropriate floors. It ran the entire height of the building (northside). I looked pretty cool.
#33669 by xcyclone
Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:17 pm
dogbo wrote:
I looked pretty cool.

Really? Were you the angel on top?

#33678 by dogbo
Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:06 am
oops. It looked pretty cool. :wink:
#33685 by 4th&Court
Thu Nov 30, 2006 10:18 am
If you come in toward downtown from Indianola Av (which becomes 2nd Av coming from the south) you can see that many buildings are doing Christmas themes. The EMC building had alternating floors lit in red and green the other night, with the "absolut bottle" portion all green. It's a nice view.
#33695 by QuadCityImages
Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:39 pm
Anyone going to post a picture for us non DSMers?
#33730 by DMRyan
Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:33 pm
Anyone with great night camera skills care to venture out into the cold to get some shots of the lights in the downtown area? Ingersoll? Stephanie?
#33752 by 4th&Court
Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:16 am
Eh, here's the best of a BAD lot.




#52000 by Ingersoll1978
Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:10 pm
DMRyan wrote:I'll have to ask my father about the alleged merits of using core-ten steel for skyscrapers.

Ryan...did you ever ask your father this question?
#52310 by hawk61401
Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:40 am
DMRyan wrote:I've heard that the Ruan Center is the tallest building in America that uses Core-ten rusticated metal cladding

The 64 story U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh is the tallest building that uses cor-ten steel. The 30 story Time-Life Building in Chicago was also built with cor-ten steel. I don't know what Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel did or didn't do when they fabricated the steel for the Ruan Center, but the cor-ten steel buildings in Chicago and Pittsburgh are beautiful. They look nothing like the rusty runny mess on the Ruan Center.

#52316 by butters
Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:50 am
Ingersoll1978 wrote:
DMRyan wrote:I'll have to ask my father about the alleged merits of using core-ten steel for skyscrapers.

Ryan...did you ever ask your father this question?

The benefit of Corten steel is that it is 100% maintenance free. Once it develops its "patina" finish, it is protected from the environment and won't deteriorate.

Some architects favor Corten steel for certain projects because it gives an antique-looking finish to an otherwise modern structure.
#52318 by butters
Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:55 am
Des Moineser wrote:It was supposed to be a prettier greenish-brown or something because it used a special color changing steel... but it came out rust color.

Not true. Corten steel has a "rust" looking finish and that has been known since the inception of the Corten Steel product.

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