If you’re one of the 300 or so employees of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, bring a sense of wanderlust to the office.

A stroll through the specialized lender’s new offices can easily add a mile to your pedometer. It’s a mile of open spaces, natural light — lots of it — collaboration areas that resemble the living room at home, and interesting decorative touches that are moss-inspired.

Yes, moss, something akin to the natural rooftop on the nearby Central Library, which can be viewed along with the busy intersection of 10th and Locust streets and other downtown views from privacy nooks that resemble cabanas and come complete with sound-absorbing materials for when you need quiet time, even though it is quiet time surrounded by big open spaces.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines has been at home for a little more than two weeks now at 909 Locust St., where the organization ordered a major — estimates are up to $25 million major — renovation of a 225,000-square-foot office built in the mid-1990s by Graham Group.

It was initially intended as the home of Equitable of Iowa, which was sold to Dutch financial services firm ING U.S., which then became a stand-alone company and was rebranded as Voya Financial.

In 2017, running out of space at its former offices at 801 Walnut St., the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines bought the six-story structure and adjacent parking lots for $20.4 million.

The operation has been located in Des Moines since 1932, when Congress created the cooperatively owned Home Loan Bank system to provide funds to other lenders for affordable home mortgages by obtaining low-cost money from investors and lending it to savings and loans.

It is a notable calling at which the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines has excelled. In 2015, the merger of the Des Moines and Seattle operations became official, with the Des Moines operation emerging as the lead agency. 

The merger marked the first structural change in the Home Loan Bank system in 25 years and the first-ever merger between any of the nation’s 12 Home Loan Banks, Business Record columnist Dave Elbert pointed out in an article after the merger was announced in 2014.

About 45 people still work in Seattle, but when they visit Des Moines, the new offices provide what are called hoteling spaces, open offices of sorts that provide work areas for the visitors.

Those hoteling spaces, as with most work areas, are set in the wide-open expanses of the 2½ floors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines in the new building.

The renovations were carried out by Graham Group, following the designs of Substance Architecture, where principal Tim Garner said his firm was given the task of letting “the space change who we are.”

Nancy Betz, senior vice president in charge of human resources and administrative services for the lender, explained what her organization wanted out of the new design: an open environment, transparency, cross-cultural appeal, inclusiveness.

“We wanted a space that would be for various work styles,” she said.

Betz has dogged the renovation since it was first considered in January 2017.

“Even though the building was outdated, it was so immaculate,” Betz said. Graham Group was a good owner. Before deciding to buy the building, Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines officials considered building a new office and moving to the suburbs.

In the end, “we were committed to staying downtown,” Betz said.

But still, there were all those walls, somewhat dark offices — all standard fare for an office building of the 1990s.

Graham punched a giant hole between the fifth and sixth floors, creating space for a large stairwell that ascends toward daylight and drops into a spacious lobby. Look up from the fifth floor to the corporate boardroom on the sixth and it appears that you are gazing into a big sky. In fact, it is a trick of lighting that pervades all of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines space. All of the work areas line the exterior of the floors, while enclosed offices — with glass walls, remember — are on the interior.

The layout encourages movement, and that is what Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines officials desired. The sixth-floor break area does not have a microwave; if you want to warm a pastry, go to the fifth-floor break area. It’s intentional; it creates a collision zone where workers might meet and exchange ideas. In addition, there are no trash cans, or printers, for that matter, near workspaces. Printers and trash cans have their own spaces. Walk to them if you need them.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines also has space to lease at its new home. Dwolla, LightEdge and Starbucks Coffee have signed up. A restaurant will move into first-floor space. Negotiations are underway for more tenants.

Tenants’ amenities offered by the bank include a first-floor fitness area that is open 24/7 for those folks who find exercise an around-the-clock calling. Another amenity is a street-level conference room.