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Financial Center Facade Lighting, Des Moines, Iowa

The Des Moines Financial Center is a 25-story, 345’ tall International Style office building completed in 1973 and located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. It is currently the fourth tallest building in the state and was recently purchased by Lawmark Capital, a Canadian investment group.


The new owners wished to increase the property’s nighttime visibility and replace the existing aging and ineffective HID floodlighting with an energy conscious and versatile color programmable LED system. The total replacement lighting budget was $135,000 which was met at the project completion in January 2015.


The new lighting consists of (72) 216 watt RGB floodlights located on lower roofs surrounding the building. The floodlights are mounted on movable mounting structures to avoid penetrating the roofing and allow flexibility for building maintenance. The entire system consumes 15,552 watts at full output white light, or roughly the equivalent of (10) residential microwave ovens. However, the standard nightly color of teal consumes 2/3 that value or 10,367 watts.


Simulation modeling was used to determine the appropriate aiming vectors and to minimize spill light on adjacent buildings. The new system’s average illuminance is a strongly uniform 5 lux average for white and 3 lux for teal. Although well over 80% of the surface is glass, the building’s solid vertical elements provide a reflective canvas for the illumination.


The Financial Center’s façade lighting has quickly become an icon and source of pride for downtown Des Moines. The lighting has been programmed to reflect the colors of many advocacy group awareness campaigns such as Pinktober, Light it Up Blue, Alzheimer’s Awareness, MS Awareness and others. Its color is changed in celebration of specific holidays, as well as a fitting red and blue pattern for the national and local media’s broadcast images during the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.

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