Land for the Ankeny Campus (240 acres) was purchased from Iowa State University in 1967.  An additional 80 acres of land was purchased from ISU in 1972.  The first buildings, now known as 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18, were built in 1969 through a lease purchase agreement.  Emory Prall Architects designed the first DMACC building on the east side of the Ankeny Campus in the late '60s.  Architect Ken Bussard with Bussard - Dikis Architects (presently RDG) performed much of the planning and design of the college's buildings during the '70s, '80s and '90s. Jessie Lewis with Crose Gardner performed much of the campus landscaping and site planning/design during this same period. 


Don Zuck was hired in 1969 as the Director of Campus Planning and Construction.  “My job was to get the campus built.  It was my job to coordinate all the steps of the construction process."  The Ankeny campus began with the “Phasing Campus" in 1969.  Temporary buildings were constructed on the east part of the campus while college classes were being conducted in the basement of the Ankeny United Methodist Church, space in the former Ankeny Post Office at 315 Walnut, a leased grocery store in West Des Moines, and a skating rink in West Des Moines.  By law, those temporary buildings, called demountable structures, were supposed to be torn down about 10 years later, but the law was revised to allow them to stand.  They are still in use today, 50 years later.  Today's Bldg. 14 was Mechanical Welding, Bldg. 15 was Student Center/Printing, Bldg. 16 was Educational Media Center, Bldg. 17 was Administration, and Bldg. 18 was Data Processing.  (See map in Photo Gallery at the end of this article.)


The first five buildings were completed in 1969, and classes began on the Ankeny campus.   That spring, there was just one paved street off Ankeny Boulevard that led to one of the buildings.  Sidewalks had not been poured yet, even though the walkways had been graded.  When winter snow melted and heavy spring rains came in, a lot of mud resulted making it difficult to walk between buildings.  Several rolls of snow fence were brought in to put down on the pathways so students, faculty, and staff could move between buildings.  They were bused from the parking lot of a nearby restaurant on Ankeny Boulevard because there were no paved parking areas yet. 


The “Permanent Campus" began to take form in 1970 in the central portion of the campus.  The first five buildings in the permanent campus were all academic buildings including health (1970), business with addition (1970), culinary arts (1971), applied science (1975), automotive (1979), and a library.  The library, Building 6, was completed in 1971.  Iowa Governor Robert Ray attended the ground-breaking ceremony.  Service buildings then followed which included the first Administration Building (1981).  It housed then college President Paul Lowery's office, Student Services, Business Office, and Human Resources.  It was also the site of the College Board of Directors' Room.  This first Administration Building later served as a Student Services building when a new District Administration Center was built on the southwestern area of the campus in 1994. 


The decision for the location of the new District Administration Center caused much discussion.  Some people wanted it more centrally located on the Ankeny campus; some wanted it located on property not associated with any campus so as to appear more like an administration facility that served the entire DMACC district rather than one just for the Ankeny campus.  The Board decision was to build in its current location, separated from the central campus, but still part of the Ankeny college grounds.  After President Joseph Borgen retired, the District Administration Center was renamed in his honor.  The Board Meeting Building was built as part of the Administration Center.  It was later renamed in honor of Eldon Leonard, a former Ankeny Mayor, DMACC Board President and Vice President, and long-time Board Member.  A Garden of Hopes and Dreams was created outside the Borgen Administration Center in 2015 by the Ankeny Garden Center.


Don Zuck remembered that the faculty and staff were always integrally involved in every step of the planning stages of the central Ankeny campus.  From the input of the faculty and staff, a booklet was created for educational specification needs which was then given to the architects.  After reviewing the booklet, the architects held interviews with faculty and staff before creating the design.  The design needed Board approval.  After that, the bids were let, and the contractors began their work.


When the main campus was ready to be built in the early '70s, all the underground utilities, streets, and other infrastructure needed to be installed.  The college was obligated to take the low bid.  Some of the low bids came from union contractors and some from non-union contractors.  The college set up separate entrances for each group so they wouldn't have to cross paths, but the unions wouldn't work when non-union groups were on campus.  The non-union group contractors had to complete their work first, and then the union contractors would start their work.  Completion of the project was delayed by at least six months. 


The building that currently houses Marketing and Public Relations was originally a Casey's gas station.  Don Lamberti, the President and CEO of Casey's at the time, built a Casey's station in 1994 on the campus and donated all proceeds to the DMACC Foundation to be used for student scholarships.  Because of the central location of the gas station on campus rather than by an entrance, it didn't receive as much business as had been hoped, so the building was repurposed. 


The campus continued to add several more academic and service buildings under the 20-year tenure of President Joseph Borgen to support many new areas of study.   The Student Service building was completed in 1981.  In 1982, two sets of greenhouses were built for the horticulture program.  The Technology Center was built in 1987 and the Advanced Tech Center in 1994.  In 1989, land was leased for on-campus housing that was built and owned by a private company.  The District Administration was built in 1994 and the Iowa Energy Center in 1995. 


The Ankeny Campus Lake was constructed in 1983 by the Iowa Department of Transportation.  An extensive environmental study and a lot of planning went into the project.  The dam that created the lake is part of Oralabor Road which was a gravel road then.  A small creek on the other side of campus was also considered as a possibility for a location for the lake.  The lake was primarily constructed for aesthetical purposes for the campus, but since it drains 900 acres of land, it also serves as water retention and a flood-control measure.  The lake was stocked with fish by Red Brannan, Ankeny resident and then Chair of Polk County Supervisors, which allowed those who enjoy fishing to test their skills. The Eldon Leonard Memorial Plaza by the lake includes a dock extending into the lake, a gazebo, a large metal sculpture, and gardens.  Other points of interest by the lake include a flag display:   “In Tribute to our students, faculty, and staff who have honored our country and DMACC through their Military Service" designed and sponsored by the DMACC Diversity Commission in 2009; a stone in honor of DMACC Veterans from the Vets Club donated in 1976; a bench donated by the Central Iowa AFSP “ 'Out of the Darkness' Community Walk in remembrance of those lost to suicide"; and a statue of a bear holding a fish carved by Gary Keenan from a log “In celebration of Earth Week and sponsored by the 2013 Earth Week Committee."  A bike and walking path was constructed around the lake in 2005. 


In the 1980s, Ankeny Little League Baseball built 13 fields on leased land from the college.  Many Ankeny children played ball there for over 20 years until the Prairie Ridge Complex was built in Ankeny.  In 2000, DMACC gifted 22 acres of land to the State of Iowa which then constructed the State of Iowa Laboratory Facilities in 2003.  They house the Department of Criminal Investigation, Department of Agriculture, Iowa Hygienic Laboratories, and the Medical Examiner's Office. 


A metal sculpture with fountains and gardens was built outside the Building 5 entrance in 1998.  The sculpture represents the diversity of students who attend DMACC and the growth they experience as they study here.  Nearby, between the current Building 2 and 4, sculptor Gary Keegan created the first bear carving on campus in 2011. 


The Energy Resources Station was built on leased land in the southeast area of the campus in 1995 with funding provided by the Iowa Energy Center to do research on HVAC and lighting systems to reduce energy consumption in Iowa buildings.  It partnered with DMACC to build a wind turbine which became operational in 2011.  The project received $131,500 from the State Energy Program.  The wind turbine generates electricity for the campus.  The 105 KW wind turbine is 130 feet high and assists students in the technician program for wind turbine operation, maintenance, and repair. 


At the time of this writing, fall 2017, there are 24 buildings on the Ankeny campus plus the FFA building and Campus View housing.  The most recent additions, under the presidency of Rob Denson, were the Health Sciences building in 2008 (nursing, dental hygiene) and the FFA building (large conference center, agriculture, and veterinary technician program) in 2010.  The Future Farmers of America partnered with DMACC and gave financial support for the building of the facility.  Major additions and remodeling to the Student Services Building 1 (Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Placement) were completed in 2014.  Building 7, which houses the Culinary Arts Program completed its expansion and remodeling in 2016.  Remodeling of the Student Center in Building 5 (Black Box Theater, Simon Estes Hall, conference rooms, book store, and food stations) and the addition of the Trail Point Aquatics and Fitness Center was completed in 2017.  Trail Point has three pools (competition, leisure, and therapy), a walking and jogging track, two basketball courts, three handball courts, spinning rooms, extensive state-of-the-art weight equipment, and cardio equipment.  It offers classes in yoga, pool exercise, swimming, and other activities.  Trail Point is open to the DMACC community and to residents of the surrounding area.  Ned Miller remembers that when Building 5 was being remodeled, a large stash of old beer cans, evidently from when the building was originally constructed, was found.  No one knew how the cans got there. 


The Physical Plant maintains the grounds and facilities.  The Horticulture Department helps with landscaping and care of the gardens.


Over the years, many people have contributed to make the Ankeny campus the excellent educational institution that it is today.  Each deserves our appreciation.  As the number of DMACC students grows, as the needs of the workplace change, and as the interests of the students expand, the Ankeny campus will continue to grow, change, and expand to meet those expectations.


Ankeny Campus Building List 2017

  • Building 17: High School Completion Center, Mortuary Science


DMACC Physical Plant Directors

  • Don Zuck, 1969 thru 1976 
  • Don Miller, 1976 thru 1980 
  • Ken Brown, 1980 thru 1992 
  • Mark Baethke, 1992 thru 2013 
  • Ned Miller, 2013 thru present


First Physical Plant Staff in Ankeny

  • Whitey Jacobs
    Ankeny Campus Maintenance Supervisor
  • Jim Blair
    Ankeny Campus Custodial Supervisor 
  • Max Arnburg
    Skill Center Maintenance Supervisor


DMACC Buildings Summary by Building


​1​Student Services​Dec 1981​32,904
​1​Student Services Addition​Dec 2013​12,000
​2​Public Services​Oct 1974​33,532
​3E​Advanced Tech Center​Oct 1994​29,050
​3W​Technology Center​Sep 1987​43,020
​4​Greenhouse Addition​Sep 1982​9,835
​4​Applied Sciences​Mar 1975​30,404
​5​Student Center​Apr 1982​55,780
​6​Classroom/Library​Aug 1971​65,652
​7​Conference Ctr. Addition​Feb 1976​4,292
​7 ​Culinary Arts​Aug 1971​25,440
​8​Business Addition​Sep 1972​15,876
​8​Business​Dec 1970​16,012
​9​Health Sciences Addition​June 1974​15,852
​9​Health Sciences​Oct 1970​22,140
​10​Welding/Autobody​Oct 1970​29,404
​11​Utility Center​Ot 1970​4,356
​12​Physical Plant​Mar 1976​13,984
​13​Auto Lab Addition​Oct 2005​1,840
​13​Auto Lab/Classroom Addition​May 2003​2,834
​13​Automotive​Aug 1979​41,160
​14​Diesel​Mar 1969​8,341
​15​Commercial Art​Feb 1969​8,341
​16​Architectural Millwork​Feb 1969​8,341
​17​Mortuary Science​Feb 1969​8,341
​17A​Office​Aug 1986​1,500
​18​Business Resources​Feb 1969​8,341
​19​Printing​Feb 1970​11,995
​20​Building Trades​Feb 1970​21,129
​21​Publications​Nov 1994​2,480
​22​Apartments/Boardroom​May 1992​4,700
​23​Iowa Energy Center​Sep 1995​9,500
​24​Health Sciences​Dec 2008​58,500
​UC1​Utility Center Building​Mar 1975​6,415
​FFA​FFA​Jan 2010​57,000



Photos by Judith Vogel, DMACC website, and Physical Plant Q-drive 



Building 16
Building 16 – One of the Original Five Buildings Still in Use

Building 2
Building 2 - Humanities

Automotive Building

Bear carving by Keenan
Bear Carving by Keenan – Bldgs 2 and 4

Early construction
Early Construction Looking Northwest– 1969

Eldon Leonard plaque
Eldon Leonard Memorial Plaza Plaque

Entry to FFA building
Entry to FFA Building

FFA building
FFA Building

First buildings
First Buildings

DMACC fishing lake sign
DMACC Fishing Lake Sign

Fountains outside Building 5
Fountains Outside Building 5

Garden of hopes and dreams
Garden of Hopes and Dreams by Borgen Center

Gazebo in Plaza by the lake
Gazebo in Plaza by the Lake


Health Sciences building
Health Sciences Building

On-campus student housing
On-campus Student Housing

Iowa Culinary Institute – Bldg. 7

Interior of tool and die building in 1971
Interior of Tool and Die Bldg. - 1971

Plaque for bench in plaza by the lake
Plaque for Bench in Plaza by the Lake

Stone honoring veterans
Stone Honoring Veterans by Vet Club

Tool and die building
Tool and Die Building

Trail Point
Trail Point Aquatics and Fitness Center – Addition to Bldg. 5

Tribute to veterans plaque
Tribute to Veterans Plaque

Wind turbine
Wind Turbine

Tribute to veterans
Tribute to Veterans