By their very name, shelters should be strong and dependable structures. Prior to its renovation, though, the Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS), an 8,000 square-foot, vinyl-clad, wood-frame building, was in such severe disrepair that the owners thought people might never trust it enough to use it. Each year, more than 2,000 people of Des Moines rely on the homeless shelter, but without a reliable facility, some were unable to receive the care they needed.

Architects at Smith Metzger wanted to design a weather-tight space that blended well with the city scape. The firm had never worked with a metal panel manufacturer, but Rob Smith, principal, explains, “We wanted to achieve as high an R-value as possible without insulating the stud space. It’s all about water vapor. We wanted to eliminate dew point as an issue.”

As the firm got to work on the $16 million, 42,000-square-foot shelter with their 11-member, LEED accredited team, three factors were required: Panel size, insulation quality, and color.

“We looked at other panel systems, but we only specified CENTRIA. [They] nailed it on all three counts.”

In the end, the build team specified more than 12,000 square feet of CENTRIA smooth-finish Formawall® Dimension Series® 3”-T horizontal with the Insulated Metal Vertical (IMV) Joint. They chose a horizontal format and rich assortment of colors—platinum, silversmith and liquid copper. With an R-22 rating, Formawall Dimension Series 3”-T offers CENTRIA’s highest level of thermal performance.


Designed with CENTRIA’s Advanced Thermal and Moisture Protection (ATMP®) technology, Formawall insulated metal panel systems are enhanced with the Formawall IMV Joint. They provide the most advanced protection from air and water penetration possible and maximum thermal performance.

Forming a continuous, consistent vapor barrier, Formawall Dimension Series’ interlocking assembly eliminates the risk of thermal shorts and vapor infiltration. The all-in-one fabrication and assembly also delivers single-source contractor accountability on façade construction and minimal scrap, freight and materials, which supports sustainability goals. Advanced metal joinery replaces exposed gaskets at end joints, and the result is a continuous surface that gives the project a clean, modern look.

The designers also liked the contrast of the metal cladding with the building’s lower precast concrete base. “The metal is a different patina and seems appropriate to the building’s purpose,” Smith notes.

Today CISS fills to capacity, supporting a wide range of community services, including emergency overnight housing. Thanks to Formawall Dimension Series with the IMV Joint, this sustainable structure reached key envelope performance goals, while maintaining the look of a caring institution that fits in well in the heart of downtown Des Moines.

CISS officials were pleased with the result. “The owner is very happy,” reports Smith. “The building committee describes it as a home, not an institution.”