Zimmer Gunsul Frasca

Partners:Dan Huberty (Managing Partner); Ev Ruffcorn (Design Partner)
Specialty: Architecture, planning, interior design
Year founded: 1942 (1977 under present name)
2000 revenues: $63.5 million
Projected 2001 revenues:  N/A
Largest current project: IDX Tower in Seattle

At Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, the focus is on high-quality projects — not necessarily searching for the next big thing.

“We don’t jump from market to market based on what’s hot,” said partner Ev Ruffcorn. “We try to discriminate. What we find are design opportunities and we pursue those.”

ZGF designed the under-construction IDX Tower at Fourth and Madison — at 40 stories, the largest commercial office building in downtown since the early ‘80s. The tower will have 850,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of retail, and will feature innovative electrical, emergency power and communications systems. The design includes a through-block shopping arcade, with north-south and east-west connections.

The main lobby, according to Ruffcorn, will include public art and make an inviting statement. “It’s more than a building lobby — it’s really available to the public and invites people to come in and share the space,” he said. “There’s a sense of almost being in a living room.”

The firm’s Iowa State University Gerdin Business Building was designed to “help them raise their position among other universities to be in the top tier of business schools,” said Ruffcorn.

The Iowa State program called for integrating academic and corporate environments, with classrooms that accommodate changing technologies. The building attempts to be sympathetic to surrounding collegiate Gothic structures, but at the same time have a modern appearance.

“It’s expressive of both the academic and corporate world,” Ruffcorn said. “That was the challenge of that design: to merge those two.”

Following Sept. 11, Ruffcorn said he saw minimal disruption of work flow.

“We saw some schedules being pushed back, but nothing completely stopped,” he said. “People are certainly taking a harder look at security in just about every type of building.” If there is a slow down in demand for tall buildings, he predicted it will be short term. “The desire for a lot of clients to be highly visible will always be there,” he said.

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