A Word from Our Owners – Damien Center

Alan Witchey is president and CEO of the Damien Center, Indiana’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization. Alan began working with the Damien Center as a volunteer in the 1990s and later became a full-time employee. He has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit management, previously serving as executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP).

 

 

Some Owners come to us as they are still developing the vision for their space. They need an outside perspective on what is working currently and what isn’t—should they make renovations, add on, find a new space, or build from scratch?

Damien Center, Indiana’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization, serves more than 4,000 individuals affected by HIV/AIDS every year. They’ve seen an increased demand for their wraparound services, as well as shifting demographics. They knew their existing space wasn’t working perfectly anymore, but they needed guidance. Schmidt Associates conducted a building and space needs assessment to help them determine their next steps.

Why are the services the Damien Center provides so critical?

People with HIV are more likely to have other sexually transmitted diseases, higher rates of homelessness, and mental health and addiction issues. It’s very common for our clients to come in and have a host of other issues that need to be addressed, including food insecurity, legal issues, or counseling needs. We can address all of those issues collectively under one roof. We’re a one-stop-shop.

The sooner they get into care, the more likely they are to be adherent to their medication regimen and eventually become virally suppressed. That means they are living a healthy, normal life, and they cannot pass on the virus to others.

Have you seen trends in the demand for your services that affect your facility needs?

When we are considering future spaces, we really have to look at who is accessing services here. One of the key things we continue to see is a growth in young people that need support and services. Many of the new infections are among young people ages 18 to 29. That means services and outreach efforts and education all have to be tailored to meet their needs and appeal to them. We also see a lot of patients who are racial or ethnic minorities—that’s the majority of our clientele. So how do we make sure that everything we’re doing is culturally competent? We also serve the LGBTQ+ population, who are often marginalized and not accepted in many areas of their lives.

Many of our clients don’t feel comfortable going to a large medical institution. Parking in a giant parking garage, getting inside the building, getting around when things aren’t labeled well. The institutionalized feel of those buildings doesn’t make people feel comfortable and safe.

As we serve those key populations, they need to feel this is a second home for them. We want them to feel welcomed, accepted, and seen as valuable. We often hear that patients don’t feel welcome in their own home, but they feel welcome here.

Why did you do a building/space needs assessment?

One key issue we struggle with is space. It’s hard when you’re not in [the architecture business] to know how to translate the need into actual square footage. I know we need more space for certain departments, but I don’t know what that means. We wanted to assess our current space — How are we using it? Are there other ways we can use it more effectively? Can we build on to gain enough space, or do we need to find another location, or would we need to build from the ground up?

What did you learn?

The surprise was that we need more space than we thought. We found we were using the space as well as we could and using all available spaces—we were cramming into closets and hallways, which makes it complicated to provide services.

We’re also in an old building, so we are not always ADA compliant. We are grandfathered in right now with this building, but in a new space, we have to learn and follow these regulations. That’s hard to figure out on your own.

What challenges do you face in pursuing a new space?

We have a strong vision of what we’re trying to create, but we have to understand the space we need. We have to think about not just where we are today, but how we make sure a new space is not immediately outdated and will accommodate us five or 10 years in the future. In our industry in particular, there are a lot of changes and evolutions in care. Where we will be in five years will be radically different than where we are today.

We know how to save people, improve people’s lives. But we don’t know how to build buildings. It is really important for us to have someone like Schmidt Associates to give us the knowledge and expertise so we can make educated decisions.

What opportunities do you see for your program in the future?

There’s been a growth in health disparities in our community and our country, and I think Damien Center is really committed to being at the forefront to address those issues. Our key goal is to improve the health of our community as a whole, and in order to do that, we need to improve the health of our clients and patients.

It would be amazing if we could have a brand new building on a new piece of property that is very celebratory of the past, as well as recognizing our future—something that culturally makes a lot of sense and helps us meet our patients where they are.

Designing Facilities for Wraparound Health Services

Wraparound healthcare services are exactly what they sound like—they encompass medical and non-medical services and resources that wrap around a person or family to best support their individual needs and improve their well-being in multiple areas of their life.

Wraparound healthcare programs are based on the idea of treating the whole person. There are many complex determinants of health and someone’s ability to seek or follow through with treatment, particularly for vulnerable populations. This can include financial, emotional, logistical, and other concerns. Wraparound services also account for the impact someone’s illness has on his or her mental health, family, or other chronic conditions.

For example, if your doctor prescribes a specific medication, do you have the ability to get to the pharmacy, pay for the prescription, understand and take it as prescribed, and return for a follow-up appointment to determine if the medication is working? Wraparound care aims to alleviate obstacles in the diagnosis and treatment process—like eliminating a trip to the pharmacy by including one right in the clinic—and providing multiple service and medical providers in one location. Comprehensive care like this has been shown to reduce ER visits and hospital readmissions and improve health outcomes.

One organization providing these types of services in Indianapolis is the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IUSOC). The clinic is a partnership between several educational institutions and community organizations and operates out of the Neighborhood Fellowship Church on East 10th Street in Indianapolis. The clinic provides primary care-based services free of charge. IU School of Medicine, University of Indianapolis, and IUPUI students and other partners provide this care under the supervision of physicians and licensed providers. This includes medical, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, dental, social work, and legal services.

Clinic Renderings

Plan for Reception Area & Nurses’ Station at IUSOC

We worked with IUSOC to design a new space to better serve patients. Three primary principles guided our process:

1. Understand What Drives the Mission

Designing spaces that provide wraparound services is a unique challenge. Before you dive into the details of design, you must first understand the organization’s mission and vision. Why do they do this work?

The IUSOC, for example, “strives to close the healthcare gap in the community by coordinating a medical presence to address a wide variety of conditions.” Its focus is the uninsured and underserved, who historically are less likely to seek medical care for a host of reasons, including previous negative experiences with the healthcare system.

This mission drives how the clinic’s volunteers serve patients and the values the clinic space should embody. The team makes a concerted effort to create a welcoming environment where those who are nervous or skeptical to see a doctor feel comfortable. They also have an increased focus on education, helping patients understand their conditions, treatments, and how to navigate the healthcare system. This serves to empower patients to better manage their health.

2. Design for Full-Service Care

The idea of wraparound healthcare is to provide, essentially, a one-stop-shop for patients, making it more convenient and efficient for them to receive the different types of care they need.

To achieve this for IUSOC, we designed what we call “full-service” exam rooms. These rooms are large enough to accommodate a variety of medical equipment so that patients can get everything from an eye exam to a gynecological exam all in one place. If a patient comes in for one problem, and the practitioner finds another problem at the same time, this allows both to be addressed without the hassle of making a separate appointment or moving to a different wing of the clinic.

We were also cognizant of tangential services patients may require to achieve positive health outcomes, such as meeting with a social worker or getting legal support. These services are co-located in the clinic, allowing patients to address root causes and make long-term healthy lifestyle changes.

3. Focus on Access

Having a streamlined, efficient, full-service facility is fantastic. But if that facility isn’t easy to get to or isn’t welcoming to its patrons, it won’t be successful.

For IUSOC, we recommended a new space in Clifford Corners, a mixed-use building containing affordable house and retail we completed for another client, across the street from the church where it currently resides.

Clifford Corners

Clifford Corners

This location was a natural and convenient choice. It is right next to the existing clinic and in a neighborhood where many patients live. In addition, 10th Street is a major thoroughfare to and from downtown Indianapolis, with direct access to public transportation routes.

Overall, the space promises enhanced outcomes for the community—growing the foundational education of our young providers, creating community, and helping to build and maintain individuals and families—regardless of ability to pay.

 

The IUSOC is currently seeking funding to secure its new space and enhance its ability to care for patients. Learn how you can support this mission.

What is Retro-Commissioning?

retro-commissioning energy assessment

 

Is your building’s energy performance at its highest possible level? If you don’t know the answer to this question offhand, it’s probably “no.”

Even if your building was designed to be energy efficient at the time it was built or renovated, as time goes on, building usage may evolve and equipment ages. Modern building systems are very complex, and one small change can have a snowball effect on the entire facility. As systems drift from original settings, energy consumption and operating costs creep up.

This is where retro-commissioning comes in. Retro-commissioning (RCx) is the process of assessing a building’s energy performance and taking steps to return it to the original design intent.

The Retro-Commissioning Process

A successful RCx process consists of four steps:

1. Find an RCx Study Provider

Not all engineering firms offer RCx as a service. A firm with specialized energy engineers can most appropriately assess and improve your building’s efficiency and lead you through any incentive programs you plan to pursue for the work (more on this later). Some utility companies require this work be performed by firms they have approved as certified RCx study providers in order to qualify for their incentive programs.

2. Complete an RCx Study

Your RCx study provider will review your energy bills and perform an on-site assessment of your existing mechanical systems, lighting systems, and building controls. They will compare your energy consumption to national benchmarks to see how you compare to your peers’ buildings around the country. In addition, they will compare your building operation to the original design intent for your building and identify areas of improvement to return the building to peak energy performance.

3. Implement Recommendations

The RCx study will result in a list of specific adjustments to be made to your control system and other low- or no-cost recommendations. These could include adjusting equipment schedules, correcting economizer operation, or reducing or eliminating simultaneous heating and cooling. Your RCx study provider can work with your staff or contractor to correctly implement these recommendations and make the necessary adjustments.

4. Continue Monitoring Building Performance

To extend the benefits of the implemented RCx measures, you should put a process in place for ongoing monitoring of your building systems. This will ensure they continue to operate efficiently and prevent energy costs from creeping up again.

Benefits of Retro-Commissioning

Ultimately, RCx decreases the cost to operate your facility. By optimizing your building systems, you lower your energy consumption and, thus, your energy bills. But there are other financial and operational benefits to RCx.

Many utility companies will pay cash to businesses that commit to an RCx study and implement the resulting recommendations. Some of these RCx incentive programs will reimburse up to 100% of implementation cost for qualifying measures. If you plan to pursue incentives for RCx, you or your RCx study provider must apply for the program before proceeding with an RCx study. After RCx is implemented, the utility company will verify implementation and measure improvements in energy consumption. The dollar amount you receive is based on actual kilowatt (kWh) savings.

RCx can also have a significant impact on building occupants. Once systems are adjusted, your staff is likely to notice a difference. Improving thermal comfort is a proven factor in employee satisfaction and can increase productivity.

 

To plan your RCx study or learn more, contact our energy experts.

 

 

A Word from Our Owners – St. Joan of Arc Church

Molly Ellsworth

Molly Ellsworth has been the Parish Business Manager at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church for eight years and served various churches in Indianapolis; Charleston, SC; and Chicago for 25 years. She earned both undergraduate (B.A. History) and graduate degrees (Master of Leadership Development) from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

 

 

Schmidt Associates worked with St. Joan of Arc Church on a phased renovation project, which included mechanical system upgrades, accessibility improvements, and interior restorations. Learn more about the first phase of the project here.

St. Joan of Arc

 

What was the goal of the restoration and improvements to St. Joan of Arc?

Our goal was to repair, refurbish, reinforce, and restore. This included a new HVAC system, electrical work, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodations, lighting, floors, and restoration of the interior.

We didn’t have air conditioning. In the summer, it was very hot in the church until about November, and then it got cold. Our building would cycle like that continuously and had done so for 85 years. It was becoming too much for the church; you could see the deterioration of the interior. It looked like an ancient Roman church, and not in a good way.

 

Why did you decide to take a phased approach to these projects?

Our 100th anniversary is in 2021, so we wanted to have all of our projects finished by then. We started with the end in mind and worked backwards, initiating the project in 2012.

One of the reasons we used a phased approach was fundraising. We did a five-year fundraising pledge, so we could use the cash from the pledges we were getting before the rest came in. This would allow us to start projects and see results, which would in turn beget more fundraising. We knew in terms of cash flow and archdiocesan fundraising guidelines, this would be easiest for us. We could manage it without taking out a loan.

With this approach, if you end up receiving more funding than you anticipated, just like with a home improvement, you can then get higher-end fixtures than you anticipated or complete additional projects. If you don’t get all of the funding, hopefully you planned accordingly and prioritized the most important projects. As cash comes in later, you can pick back up.

 

Why was planning so far in advance important?

By giving ourselves so much time, we were really able to delve into all the systems and focus in on things that had to get done, things that would be nice to get done, and things that would be an added bonus to get done. That helped shift our brains into “phase mode,” so we were able to easily embrace each phase and do it right and do it well. This meant we were not having to go back and do change orders all the time.

 

How did you sell the projects to parishioners?

St. Joan of Arc Church is beloved on the northside. It’s hard to find someone on the northside who isn’t touched by this church in some fashion. Whether it’s once a year at French Market, or they attended a wedding here, or they got married here, or their parents or grandparents or great grandparents got married here. Having been here for almost 100 years, we’ve touched generations of lives.

It was an easy message. We didn’t initially say we were going to do it in a phased approach, but we did say we would begin once we had enough cash to start the projects. They understood that as soon as we got $1.5 million, we could get air conditioning. When you ask 700 families for air conditioning money in the summer, hopefully you get more than you need! Then the excess from air conditioning can go toward new paint or organ restoration.

 

How have the phased improvements been received?

AC was huge. It used to get so hot in the summer that people would go to other parishes. Last summer, after putting in the new HVAC, we saw a much higher percentage of people stay in the pews over the summer. That was a great win for us.

What they’re all really excited about at this point is the floor. The floor was 90 years old and was falling apart; it was designed to last maybe 20 years. The original design was for a terrazzo floor, and the parish ran out of money when they were building it. We have the opportunity now to finish what the architect and designers had originally intended. Folks are excited to see how it was meant to be.

We moved out of the church at end of May to finish the improvements. Few people have been inside since then. We’ve had some photographers who have been in and are posting on social media, and the response has been huge for us. People are very excited to get back in the church; they’re seeing the pictures, and it’s gorgeous. To see everyone’s excitement building is fantastic.

What We Love About Living in Indianapolis

Affordability, walkability, excitability—Indianapolis has something to offer everyone.

 

Indianapolis Skyline

Photo by Kent Rebman on Unsplash

 

It’s no longer a secret that Indianapolis is one of the country’s best places to live at any stage of life. From Gen Z college grads looking for new opportunities, to millennials starting families and buying their first homes, to retirees wanting to return to exciting downtown living, Indy is a versatile city.

What is it exactly that makes Indy a great place to be, day in and day out? Our staff has some opinions!

 

1. Never a dull moment

Libby Budack, Database Specialist

Has Lived in Indy: 17 years

Hometown: Martinsville, IN

The easy answer is low cost of living, but I like to think of it as “the biggest little city in the world.” There’s just so much to see and do in Indy, but you never have a long drive to get where you’re going. Whether it’s filling your belly with all things Indiana at the State Fair or cheering on the Indians at Victory Field, summers in Indy are the best! There’s always something going on at the Circle, and it’s a lot of fun to explore at lunch time!

Indianapolis - Victory Field

 

2. A city transformed

Kyle Miller, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 5 years

Hometown: Shelbyville, IN

I grew up close to Indy and have experienced it for my entire life. I worked for 12 years on Virginia Ave and 23 years on Mass Ave; two of the city’s most exciting areas. I have seen Indy transform over the past 35 years into one of the nicest, most livable cities in the country. It is amazing what Mass Ave has become from what is was when I first started at Schmidt in 1996. My wife and I love the city life, being around others who share that feeling, and the many options for dinner, entertainment, and things to do any night of the week.

 

3. Affordable place to raise your family

Ben Bain, Business Development Representative, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 22 years

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Indy is a great place to raise a family. It has all the attributes of a major city but isn’t too big. The cost of living is low, particularly for housing. We get all four seasons, and we have lots of parks. Plus, we can host major sporting events as well as any city. And of course, the Biergarten at the Rathskeller is one of my favorite spots!

Ben in Indianapolis

 

4. Friendly and comfortable

Caitlin Liskey, Architectural Intern

Has Lived in Indy: Two months

Hometown: Highland, IN

Just about every person I’ve met or run into here has been friendly, and with how much there is to do around the city, I don’t think it would be easy to get bored! It’s very pedestrian friendly, and as much as I’ve been reminded to be mindful while walking in a city, I’ve felt super comfortable in Indy.

 

5. Big city amenities without the headache

Natalie Moya, Marketing Communications Strategist

Has Lived in Indy: 8 years

Hometown: Munster, IN

When I first moved to Indy after graduating from college, I didn’t think it could live up to my first love and the city I grew up near: Chicago. What I discovered was that Indy has its own personality and charm that’s much more accessible. We have all the bragging rights that draw people in—employment opportunities in healthcare and our booming tech scene, world class restaurants and breweries, big-name concerts and sporting events, an art and culture scene—all without the chaos and intimidation of a bigger city. It’s all the fun, without the headache!

Natalie in Indy

 

6. Less traffic, more walkability

Lisa Gomperts, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 33 years

Hometown: Indianapolis

I love Indy because of the big town feel and amenities—our pro sports teams, the Indianapolis Zoo, museums, the Canal, our many monuments—without the traffic and congestion of most big cities. I love the walkability of downtown and the friendliness of the people.

 

7. Nearby outdoor adventures

Dave McDowell, Controls Engineer

Has Lived near Indy: 40 years

Hometown: Brownsburg, IN

Indianapolis is a great community with caring people and plenty of attractions and activities. It offers both city and country living that does not require a long commute. The nearby lakes are clean and abundant. Patoka Lake is my favorite and has the cleanest water for water skiing or fishing. The Turkey Run area is great for hiking, canoeing, and general outdoor activities. Beyond the amazing experience at the annual Indianapolis 500 race, many music and art festivals are hosted in the downtown area and concerts at Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville. The Indiana Convention Center draws in many people from around the country due to the frequent conventions and hosted events.

Dave in Indianapolis

 

We’ve talked a little about this great city before. Check that out while you’re at it!

 

Community Perspective: Corrie Meyer on Urban Revitalization

Corrie Meyer

Corrie Meyer, AICP, PLA, is an entrepreneur working in the urban environment as a certified Urban Planner and licensed Landscape Architect. As President and CEO of Innovative Planning, a central Indiana strategic planning firm, she provides visionary and adaptive leadership by delivering creative site layouts, pro-formas, and development solutions for mixed-use projects and communities. Her strength is overseeing development strategies that drive transformative change. Corrie is driven to inspire and support others to make a positive change in their environment by thinking through significant goals that influence the course of time.

 

You have done a lot of work in redevelopment. What do you see as the keys to revitalizing urban areas?

First is strong leadership. We need strong leadership in our cities and towns to develop a strong vision and to put together a team who can get things done. This could be mayors, or this could be engaged community or business leaders.

Vision is also important. The vision needs to guide the community. The right parties need to be a part of the process; you don’t want it to occur in a bubble. In some communities, the core group is elected officials and staff who are framing the vision. In other communities, the vision develops more organically through a grassroots effort. Having the right people involved ensures there is a strong group who serve as the founders of the idea and hold people accountable for executing it.

 

What role do anchor institutions have in the urban revitalization process?

Anchor institutions have a lot of influence. Their participation often leads to a stronger vision or stronger ideas. Any time you have the opportunity to collaborate, that makes for a project with long-term viability.

Anchor institutions might be able to bring along a potential tenant for a new building, or they may want to do an expansion in the area themselves. They may also bring financial resources or volunteers to get something done.

 

Downtown on Mass Ave in particular, what do you see as the important anchor institutions and influences on the revitalization of this area over the past few decades?

The Athenaeum is definitely an anchor institution here, as well as Riley Area Development Corporation and Mass Ave Merchants Association.

These three organizations and the people who work for them have dedicated their careers to creating a thriving Mass Ave area. They live and breathe it. The Athenaeum has brought people to Mass Ave—not for decades, but for centuries. It is the sole institution that kept Mass Ave alive and kept it from becoming another vacant, old commercial block up against the interstate. People will always know, remember, and enjoy the Athenaeum.

I’d also say there are some key individuals, people like Wayne Schmidt in fact, who invested early and often in their office’s neighborhood. Wayne has been persistent in making sure this cultural district is strong, which comes back to that strong leadership that is necessary to revitalize an area.

 

What are the biggest challenges that often come with redevelopment?

A challenge of redevelopment is financial feasibility. These urban renewal areas want to be dense. Today’s demand on mobility and independent travel, each of us having our own car, that is a major demand on the feasibility of redevelopment. Finding the available parking is difficult and costly. Making sure there are transportation options is key to making redevelopment more feasible.

It’s also important to facilitate equal opportunity for businesses and residents to thrive. We need to focus on mixed use, mixed income, mixed opportunity—all of those things help create diverse redevelopment. Sometimes developers are solely focused on bringing their product to a neighborhood, and it fits their mission and they can usually mold it into the community vision. The equitable distribution of opportunities isn’t just for the developer or the people holding the vision. It’s for the entire city.

Something else you don’t want to ignore is the preservation of culture. Urban renewal areas are areas that have been identified as needing a “refresh.” But it’s important you still preserve the culture of the area. Culture is long lasting; it stands the test of time. Buildings come and go and get new faces and new users. The culture of a space that everyone in the area feeds off is what makes a space unique.

 

What excites you most about where Central Indiana urban development is headed?

We have a strong creative class. We are attracting a new generation to Indianapolis, which is going to continue the momentum of strong investment in Central Indiana.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is continuing to shop and bring new jobs back to Central Indiana. That is exciting because that will bring more people, more opportunity, and more investment in our communities. Visit Indy also does an amazing job of promoting Indianapolis and bringing conventions here. If we can provide more opportunities to millennials and Gen Z, we will continue to be a strong economic hub of the Midwest.

While we don’t have iconic landscapes, the White River Master Plan will encourage interaction with the river and strengthen it as an asset. The airport is amazing and continues to make it easy for people to come in and out of Indianapolis. It all feeds together to create a strong metropolitan area, regardless of natural features.

 

Is there a specific project you’re looking forward to?

The next “it” spot will be Eleven Park, the soccer stadium development. It will serve as a catalyst for transformational development. It is unique over other projects because it will be the sole development that brings entertainment, workplace environment, residential, hotel, retail and restaurants all together. Being like a miniature city, and I think it is the stand-out project for this decade.

Mass Ave Isn’t What It Used to Be: Urban Revitalization in Indianapolis

Years of redevelopment and steadfast anchor institutions are to thank for the Mass Ave we know and love.

 

Did you know that MacNiven’s used to be a biker bar? Maybe you noticed the original “Sears, Roebuck and Company” still etched into the west side of Needler’s Fresh Market at the corner of Alabama and Vermont Streets. Even the buildings that make up the Schmidt Associates’ office have been everything from a paint and wallpaper store to a coffee shop and restaurant.

Massachusetts Avenue—affectionately called Mass Ave or the Avenue by most—has been in constant transformation. New restaurants seem to pop up daily, and recent (and ongoing) new construction is making more room for apartments, offices and entertainment options.

This intimate downtown stretch didn’t always look the way it does now. In fact, it was once considered somewhat of a “red light district,” a seedy stretch you wouldn’t want to take selfies in front of.

Over the past four decades or so, the landscape of this downtown thoroughfare has changed dramatically, making it a prime example of urban revitalization. After years of redevelopment, the Mass Ave neighborhood eventually became the cultural hub that it is today.

 

A Brief History of Mass Ave

The footprint of Indianapolis was designed by Alexander Ralston (yes, Ralston’s DraftHouse is named after him), who also laid out the streets of Washington, D.C.

Like D.C., Indianapolis has several diagonal roads that sprout out from Monument Circle. Mass Ave is one of them, making it—at one time—a major artery connecting the commercial downtown and residential outskirts of the city.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1906

Mass Ave circa 1906 (Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Between about 1940 and 1960, a mass migration from cities to suburbs occurred across the U.S. Approximately 40 million people abandoned the hustle and bustle of downtowns in favor of quiet suburban streets. These suburbs started to become self-contained, with their own shops, schools, and police departments. Indianapolis was no exception.

The construction of the interstate, which cut directly through Mass Ave, in the 1970s fueled this exodus of city dwellers, giving them an easy way to travel back downtown when necessary.

By the late 1970s, when Schmidt Associates moved into the Hammond Block at 301 Massachusetts Ave., the view down the Avenue was bleak. There were many boarded up buildings, and the open businesses were far from the trendy boutiques and restaurants we see now.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1970s

Mass Ave Circa 1970s

With our offices perched at the starting point of the street, our firm had a unique position and ability to take part in the revitalization of Mass Ave. We’ve made our humble mark along the Avenue over the years—from our work on the Stout’s Shoes building in the 1980s, to our office’s move to our current home at 415 Massachusetts Ave. (right image above), to the completion of the new Penrose on Mass building in 2018. And both our leadership and staff have been committed to this revitalization through active participation with local non-profits and community engagement.

No single person or organization could have made this significant transformation. A powerful combination of support from community and economic development organizations, private businesses, and federal tax credits for revitalization of historic buildings helped bring new life to Mass Ave.

However, none of these efforts would have been sustainable without another important player: the anchor institution.

 

Anchor Institutions Leading the Charge

An anchor institution is a place that holds influence in a city or other geographic area. It quite literally “anchors” the area by helping to provide a point of stability that attracts residents and other businesses.

Often, we think of a university, the headquarters of a major corporation, a professional sports stadium, or a hospital as an anchor institution in a city. These companies give meaning to an area, providing jobs and spurring new housing developments, commercial business, and more. Each neighborhood within a city can have its own, smaller anchors, as well.

Mass Ave would not be the place it is today without the anchor institutions that established it as a destination neighborhood in Indianapolis. Here are a few we have to thank:

 

The Athenaeum

Mass Ave Revitalization 1910

Athenaeum Circa 1910 (Photo Courtesy of the Athenaeum Foundation)

The Athenaeum was designed by Bernard Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut’s grandfather) and was built in phases between 1893 and 1898. It was envisioned as a “house of culture for the mind and body,” according to the Athenaeum Foundation. True to that purpose, it has played host to countless theater productions, public speeches, and other community gatherings and celebrations.

The building was also once home to the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union and held gymnastics trainings. This made it a perfect fit for the YMCA, which moved in in 1992. And of course, the Rathskeller, Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant still in operation, opened in the Athenaeum’s basement in 1894.

Today, the Athenaeum building remains a cultural focal point. It has a coffee shop with a large working/meeting space, the Rathskeller beer garden and outdoor concert venue, and various office and performance spaces for art and education organizations.

 

Circle City Industrial Complex

Mass Ave Revitalization 1930s

Schwitzer Cummins Co., Circa 1930s (Photo Courtesy of Circle City Industrial Complex)

Built in the early 1920s, the building that is now the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC) provides an anchor further northeast on Mass Ave. It was originally home to the Schwitzer Cummins Corporation automotive plant. The plant was part of the booming auto industry in Indianapolis and across the country.

While the interstate now divides Mass Ave just before you get to CCIC, the campus remains an anchor in the area, known as the Mass Ave Industrial Corridor. CCIC is currently being redeveloped, in large part due to efforts of the Riley Area Redevelopment Corporation, which is also responsible for much of the public art along Mass Ave, as well as affordable housing and other economic development efforts. The former factory building is now home to a variety of artisans and makers, non-profits, and other businesses.

 

The Murat

Mass Ave Revitalization 1900s

Murat Theatre Circa 1900s (Photo Courtesy of the Murat Shriners)

Now named Old National Centre, the Murat Theatre was completed in 1910 by a group called the Murat Shriners. The Shriners were members of a secret society called the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The temple served as a ceremony and meeting place for decades and is still under ownership of the Shriners.

In 1995, Live Nation became a tenant of the theater, bringing big-name live shows and concerts to Mass Ave. This was, and continues to be, a significant driver in attracting new restaurants and bars to satisfy event-goers before and after shows.

 

The Future on Mass Ave

It has taken decades for development on Mass Ave to elevate to its current state. Every decade since the late 1970s has brought about its own hallmark projects along the Avenue.

Today, Mass Ave has something of significance on almost every block. And there’s more to come, like the in-progress Bottleworks building, which is an adaptive reuse of the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. The project includes the Avenue’s first hotel, plus unique retail and gathering spaces, which will bring more activity to the northeast end of the street.

While most large parcels of land are now occupied, there are some gaps to fill in and opportunities to build north and south of the strip. As development continues, it’s important that we remember to preserve the organic and intimate character of Mass Ave.

When you walk down the street, you see pockets of new construction, but you mostly see a lot of old buildings—a blend of architectural styles from over the years, most no more than five or six stories tall. Those strong, old bones are still here, but they’ve been given new life and purpose. That is what revitalization is all about.

The Sweet Side of Beekeeping

Now that we are all ‘resident experts’ with beekeeping, we sat down with Mark Manship to learn a little bit about the honey. Albeit, what most of would consider the best part of beekeeping!

But maybe you haven’t heard the buzz about our bees yet – check out this blog first to catch up.

Bees

How long does it take before a hive starts producing honey?

A hive starts to produce honey within a couple of weeks. But it is minimal storage, and they need some honey to feed on. Especially during the winter. It can be a full year before there is honey to harvest.

How much honey does a single hive produce?

Each bee only produces a 1/12th of a teaspoon in its lifetime and travels up to 3 miles to obtain the nectar and pollen it needs. But there are thousands of bees in a hive, and they reproduce quickly. Depending on the hive, you end up with 20 to 60 pounds of honey. Honey is sold by weight, not volume, because of water content.

What are the benefits of honey bee hives?

For the beekeeper, it’s the honey. For hobbyists, it’s not a profitable situation. You also have wax, which we provide to a friend who makes soap, lip balm, and other beauty products. You can also make candles and other wax products. The pollen can also be harvested to be used for boosting immune systems against allergies. Pollen, by weight, is a similar value to gold! With the honey that isn’t high enough quality to sell, we use it to make mead.

The pollination helps flowers, fruit trees, and many other plants reproduce. For commercial beekeeping, the pollination is required for successful agriculture. This is the biggest need since we are an agricultural dependent society. Mass farming production needs bee hives at fruit and vegetable farms for the pollination, or the fruit and vegetables won’t be successful. For example, almonds, oranges, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, etc. This is 60-70% of the food we consume.

In this area, the only natural pollinators are carpenter and bumble bees. And a very limited variety of honey bees. All others were imported from Europe or East Asia.

Want to know more about our bees? Follow us on social to keep up with the hive!

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What’s that buzz? It’s Schmidt Associates’ New Bee Hive on our Green Roof!

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, Schmidt Associates is now an urban beekeeper with a honeybee hive on our roof.

Luckily, Mark Manship, one of our construction administrators, maintains two beehives at home and has become the keeper of our hives.  Since many of us are curious about what this means, we decided to sit down and ask him about being a beekeeper.  Check back for future blogs with more information and check out our social media sites. We’ll regularly have pictures posted with captions about the bees’ progress.


How did you get into this?
About five years ago my wife and I moved to a property with 3.5 acres of land. My wife wanted to get chickens, and I said “no” (I had them as a child and didn’t want them again.)  She mentioned bees, and I said sure. We got a nucleus hive (or nuke), a starter hive with 5 full frames of bees. Unfortunately, they didn’t last the winter, and we started over with a couple of new varieties of honey bees. We had some success, and they were thriving. Someone my wife knew wanted to retire and needed to find someone to take his bees. We reached out to some friends who were also interested in beekeeping, and together we purchased all his hives and equipment. After splitting this among our friends, we were at our peak capacity of 12 hives of various breeds of honeybees from all over the world on our property.

Though it began as my wife’s hobby, I helped a lot. With a background in carpentry, I made the hive stands and helped with transportation. Not long after we started, I had a swarm of honeybees land on a tree by my old office, and we wanted to capture the swarm to move them. We contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) about regulations to capture swarms. We were encouraged to contact a beekeeper or capture them ourselves. That’s when I got hooked. Saving the bees.

We are now listed on the IDNR swarm list for East Central Indiana. When someone finds a swarm of bees, they typically call pest control. Pest control refers them to the IDNR swarm list to have someone come catch them.

Mark Manship moving a bee swarm

I bought three new packages of bees this spring, one for our homestead, one for an offsite location, and one for the green roof at Schmidt Associates.

Schmidt Associates’ Green Roof with a New Bee Hive!What goes into maintaining a hive?
Once the hive is established, about once a week you open the hive to look for brood cells to make sure they are multiplying. You also look for honey stores and check the general health of the bees. You check for signs of pest intrusion and adjust accordingly. Another part is looking for additional queen cells, or an abundance of bees which may indicate they are ready to split or swarm and create another hive.

You need to make sure they are healthy, but if they get overly healthy, the hive needs expansion or needs to be split. I’m still learning and taking over the hive keeping at home. We’ve been doing this for about four years, but it was mainly my wife. Now the apprentice is the beekeeper. And I get to do it at the office too, which is great!

Check back in a few weeks for more information about honey production and the benefits of bees!

Designing for Generation Z

Generation Z, the 60-some million young people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, are the most diverse group in our country’s history.

They grew up during times of recessions and financial crises, war and terror threats, and technology overload. Many of them knew how to operate a tablet or cellphone before they could put sentences together. They don’t remember a life without social media and spend up to nine hours a day consuming media. They have a rather short attention span and it can difficult to keep them engaged. In the next ten years, it is estimated that Gen Z will consist of 22% of the workforce and many will be working in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Generation Z Workforce Percentage

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Gen Z workers are more competitive and pragmatic, but also more anxious and reserved, than millennials, the generation of 72 million born from 1981 to 1996, according to executives, managers, generational consultants and multidecade studies of young people.”

Learning how to design for Generation Z will be essential in the longevity of our communities, facilities, and workplaces. So what design features will help attract and retain this large cohort?

Choice and Input

It’s easy: let them be a part of the design process, ask them to give input on what they want and expect, and then simply listen to what they have to say. One of the easiest ways to connect with this generation is through making them feel like their voices are heard. Designers can bring them idea starters and guidelines to get conversation going but try to immerse yourself into their world if you want a truly successful project. You can do this through focus groups, community engagement events, social media polls, and project blogs/websites.

Of special note, long-term choice is essential. Design should allow for variation over the life of a building, allowing the space to be tailored to each user’s preferences:

  • Robust power – consider a raised floor
  • Expansive wi-fi
  • Furniture that is movable – think everything on wheels, closable pods, and sitting/standing desks
Technology-Rich Spaces

As the baby boomers are retiring and Gen Z starts to fill in the gaps, technology will follow them. The places they live, work, and play need to reflect a lifestyle they are accustomed to: attached to hand-held supercomputers which provide instant communication with others. This diverse and mobile group will crave a digital connection to the world. In terms of the workplace, an office setting should include technology that will seamlessly allow staff to work from home (or a coffee shop across the world) but also enhanced video conferencing from anywhere. With good lighting and acoustics along with the ability to easily share documents and control, the office can be anywhere.

As designers, we need to think of technology that will help the facilities operate longer yet efficiently. Because Gen Z is predicted to put in a lot of hours in the office, the building systems will need to run differently than the regular 8-5pm. Allowing small spaces to be controlled and operated as needed without requiring the entire facility to be in operation will result in lower energy costs.

Flexibility

This generation works really hard, but they want some playtime as well. If you are going to create a flexible work environment, including staff who work remotely, creating a gathering space is essential for retention and overall job satisfaction. One design idea is to create a comfortable commons area filled with homey furniture, a coffee bar, and plenty of natural light. This type of space will allow Gen Z workers to take a brain break and socialize before getting back to the grind. Filling a space with familiar furniture pieces will ease anxiety and gives everyone a space to feel connected to peers.

We don’t all work the same, and an office won’t likely be comprised solely of Gen Z’ers. Design a workplace that has multiple types of rooms with varying functionality and privacy. If you can handle working in an open concept area, great! If you also need to get away from the hustle and bustle to really concentrate, great! If you need that ability to meet with a couple team members for a quick collaboration session away from your desks, great! If you need to meet with several people from around the office and need a more formal setting with technology, that’s great too!

Genuine Feel

This is a big one to keep in mind when you are looking to put your roots down for a new project. This generation gravitates toward places, people, and things that feel real, predictable, and safe. If you are wanting to attract and retain the Generation Z population, start by looking for a location that has its own sense of culture. Your building or space should come from and build on its history and the community naturally. Furthermore, your space should promote general well-being for users. Historic areas and neighborhoods are a big hit with this generation, leaving a lot of good potential for adaptive reuse projects. Staying true to the story makes the work resonate – do not to cut out the charm of the old while designing the new. The pre-packaged, Instagram filter world has ended, and Generation Z is seeking a genuine experience.

Choosing a location that is walkable and bikeable with nearby restaurants and attractions, grocery stores, and hotels will draw in more people. This goes for any type of building in the urban mix, from office space to apartments to mixed-use developments.

Once you have a location, make sure to include biophilic design features that promote happiness and health. Generation Z is very conscious of their mental and physical health—promoting that connection back to nature within a building will relate well with those users.

Inclusivity

Generation Z is a beautiful ethnically-diverse population, which is important to keep in mind when designing communities and buildings for them. Not everyone experiences a space the same, in part due to their culture and all that comes along with their unique backgrounds. Connecting back to “choice and input”, you will get the information that you need to ensure a space is inclusive if Gen Z’ers are included in the process.

 

It is time to prepare and adapt for future generations, allowing their influences to permeate through the built environment to stay relevant and competitive in the world. We should admire and enhance their creativity, empathetic attitudes, desire to feel connection, and heads-down work mentality with the spaces we provide. With the help of Generation Z, we should create communities and spaces that harness that same energy and drive toward success. If you want to more specifics on how to design for Gen Z, give us a call!