The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), a local non-profit working to meet basic human needs of the greater Des Moines community, had outgrown their space. The former building was unable to accommodate any more employees, volunteers or donations, forcing CEO Matt Unger to look for a new home. After a year-and-a-half-long search, our client found an outdated and disused big-box store that met both their front-of-house office space and back-of-house warehousing needs. The organization was looking for a place they could grow into that could accommodate greater food storage capacity and an on-site food pantry, along with space for volunteer training, educational awareness meetings on food insecurity and a meeting hub for local organizations.
Based on preexisting building layout and programming, the client’s desired workflow process and need to pull vehicles into and out of the warehouse, the new design of the building logically came together. The office space is highlighted by a double-height area with preexisting mezzanine, front desk, conference room, classroom, private office space and polished interior design. Located posteriorly and connected to the office is a fully functional warehouse that is durable in materiality with plenty of space for DMARC to utilize in the future. The back of house includes a pantry, cold storage space, donation drop-off, overhead bay doors for vehicle entry and additional space to bring in the mobile food pantry unit when needed.
The layout of the renovated building and strength of DMARC’s operation was tested shortly after move in due to a reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and subsequent surge in food insecurity in the spring of 2022. Because the space allowed for more storage and ability to buy in bulk, those needs were met in full. Durability, flexibility and cost-efficiency were top of mind in delivering this vital non-profit organization a new home with the capacity to change a countless number of lives in the Des Moines metro for years to come.