A Word from Our Owners – Butler College of Education

Ena ShelleyDr. Ena Shelley was appointed dean of the College of Education at Butler University in June 2005. Shelley’s experience with the College of Education began 37 years ago when she joined the faculty as an assistant professor of early childhood education in 1982. Now Dean and Professor Emerita, Dr. Shelley retired in the spring of 2019.

 

 

Schmidt Associates worked with Dr. Shelley and the Butler College of Education to transform the former Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) into an innovative space to educate future teachers. The project was considered an adaptive reuse of the original building.

Why did you need a new space for the Butler College of Education?

We were in historic Jordan Hall, probably one of the oldest buildings on campus. We were overcrowded and had outgrown the space; it was not functioning well at all. We didn’t have any space for gathering—faculty would meet at a professor’s house.

The college had grown, the faculty had grown, but the space was never designed for us to teach the way we want our future teachers to teach. For example, in our classrooms, the computer cart was located at the front of the room. As the student, you were the receiver of the information. We called it our throwback to Conner Prairie—like the old traditional school house. It was time for a new home.

 

What was your goal with this project?

I spent a large part of my career studying the philosophy of Reggio Emilia in Italy and its approach to childhood education. A large part of this practice is “environment as the third teacher.” Environment influences the types of learning experiences you can offer. One of my goals was to have an environment that mirrored and encouraged a deeper understanding of this approach to teaching and learning.

One of the practices Reggio employs is transparency. Is it visible what is going on? Not when you have hallways and closed doors. You have to have light and glass so you can see and hear what is happening. A building that was retrofitted like we had met none of Reggio’s criteria.

COE Classroom

Flexible classroom at Butler University College of Education

 

Why did you decide on adaptive reuse instead of new construction?

I really think it’s important to repurpose and reuse. This goes back to my affinity for European culture. Why do we in the United States not value things that were built, rather than tearing down and building new? We don’t keep anything that is more than 100 years old. If we maintain this attitude, we will never have a sense of purpose and place in history. It’s about preserving the past but honoring the future. It’s being responsible to our environment.

If we look at everything as a canvas, we get to paint the masterpiece. What could it look like? That’s part of the creative process that I think we need to keep in ourselves.

 

Why did you choose the former CTS space for the new college?

This space was perfect for the Reggio approach; it was a workable solution. I could stand in one space and see all the way around the building through the glass. The interior courtyard, that’s like the Italian piazza—a gathering place. I could stand here and picture what it could look like and what kind of teaching and learning could happen in this space. It was like handing me an Italian canvas.

Butler is also expanding in that direction, and purchasing this building and the grounds allows us to face south as well as north. In a matter of years, people will think that’s always been the case.

COE Hallway

Courtyard view at Butler University College of Education

 

What challenges did the space present?

We of course had to bring things up to code, the HVAC and electrical. We had to elevate the floors to be ADA compliant and to improve acoustics. But once all that is fixed, it’s fixed for a long time.

Probably the biggest challenge was that faculty now have to share offices in the new space. They all had individual offices before, but there wasn’t enough room to do that here. This would not have worked at every university, but they were fabulous because they are so collaborative. We’re all excited about sharing and learning from one another. We were also intentional in providing huddle rooms and work rooms for faculty to use.

 

Were there any unexpected benefits the space provided?

We found a treasure trove of furniture in storage that was originally designed and built for the building. We refinished it, and it was like bringing it back to what it was supposed to be. It’s stunningly beautiful. Come to find out, if you were to purchase one of the desks we found today, it would be $6,000—and it was just collecting dust!

 

What was unique about the process?

It was an unusual renovation because it was not a merger of Butler and CTS, but a collaboration. We’re still sharing that building with CTS.

They had to bear the hardest part of the project because they were still using the building and had to put up with the renovation. Plus, they were giving up space that had been theirs. I wanted to be so respectful of that because that’s hard. We really worked hard on relationships and thanking them for putting up with us.

It has worked out so well. They have been so welcoming and gracious.

Butler COE exterior

Main entry at CTS

 

How did you make sure the space would be useful long into the future?

We focused on multifunctional spaces. One of the new classrooms was two classrooms before, and neither one functioned. We put in soft furniture, moveable tables and chairs, cameras—we wanted it to be used for everything from science to art to meetings. We wanted to show how a space can be transformed simply by the kind of furniture you choose.

We also installed a rod and rail system where we can make learning visible by documenting and displaying what happens here. You can see on the walls what it means to be in the College of Education at Butler. It makes the building tell a story. That is a design element that will always be growing and changing.

There are still spaces to be done in the building. Let’s learn how we are using this space. When we are ready to do those other rooms in a few years, what will we have learned?

 

See the new space in use in the video below!

 

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.

A Word from Our Owners – MSD of Washington Township

Angela Britain-Smith, Director of Operations

Angela Britain-Smith, Director of Operations at MSD Washington Township, brings 30 years of educational qualifications extending into facilities management, maintenance, custodial, food services, safety, and security. Ms. Britain-Smith holds a MS degree & Indiana School Administration Licensure from Butler University; BS degrees in Library Services K-12 & Speech & Communications 5-12 from Indiana University & Purdue University; and an Associate degree in Applied Science Human Services & Social Work from Indiana Vocational Technical College. She is an Indiana Certified Safety Specialist and former building administrator.

 

Mike Kneebone, Director of Technology

Mike has been in education for twenty-four years. Now in his 12th year as Director of Technology, he oversees all aspects of technology procurement, deployment, integration, and support. Mike holds BS & MS degrees in Education & Educational Technology from Indiana University.

 

 

Is Washington Township schools doing anything new with their current construction projects around safety and security?

ABS – Safety and security has always been one of our top priorities. When we did the planning for our 2016 referendum projects, we had four priorities – one of those being “safety and security”.

It is extremely important for the Director of Operations and the Director of Technology to have a close working relationship. Together, we need to fully understand the educational specifications and design standards in order to hit the mark.

Can you describe what this includes?

Angela – We are implementing several different measures: secure entries, lockdown features, and mass notification alert systems. Hardware features have also been added to classroom doors with a visual indicator showing if a door is locked or unlocked.

Mike – Our key technological focus behind all measures is to make everything easy to use and accessible to everyone in a lockdown situation. To help with this, we’ve added in a smartphone function to secure doors and trigger alerts throughout various locations of the building.

Another feature we’ve decided to incorporate is sound control. With everything going on in a classroom (movies, digital presentations, and other interactive media), we realized there is a need to auto duck audio if there is an alert being sent out. We tied all the systems together so that the alert audio has the priority, ensuring everyone can hear them.

With so many safety and security options out there, how did you determine to do these items?

Angela – We had a process in place. We engaged with a consultant for educational specs, worked with our professional partners in regards to design standards, involved many stakeholders (teachers, custodians, cafeteria staff, administrators, district leadership, etc.) to outline our priorities. The district is also engaged with a technology consultant who helped us set up webinar and info sessions to look at the different technologies available in order to make the best decisions for Washington Township.

We also attend conferences on a regular basis and collaborate with our District Police Department and local agencies to stay up to date with the best safety and security practices.

Mike – Ultimately, we used a very collaborative process to come up with our plan. What helps all the systems work together seamlessly is knowing what every department needs and what they are implementing. During the initial visioning sessions, we were able to learn how to integrate all of the systems.

Are you doing anything that is not related to the actual building, but an increased focus such as guidance counselors spending more time with students?

Angela – This is another important area to focus on. Whenever we have the opportunity to increase our operating budgets, we certainly review our social and mental support service in regard to need and capacity. During our 2016 operational referendum, we brought in additional social workers. Just recently, we were able to add more guidance councilors at our high school.

Can you describe the experience of working with Schmidt Associates?

Angela – It is always very positive and collaborative, which is most important. Schmidt Associates has the district’s best interest in mind, and they work really hard to ensure the design is inclusive of Washington Township’s needs and priorities. The team is also extremely responsive and answers any questions we have very quickly, which is very appreciated.

A Word from Our Owners – BSU Residence Halls

George Edwards – Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life Facilities at Ball State University

Joel Bynum – Assistant Director for the Coordination of Living Learning Programs at Ball State University

Ball State Residence Halls

When did Ball State University decide to implement the Living Learning Community model in their residence halls and why?

It’s a long history, but I’ll try to make it short. In 1998, Ball State University started offering Living Learning Communities as part of a larger first-year student experience. We called it Freshman Connections. At that time, first-year students were registered into shared sections of core curriculum courses with students they lived with together in their residence hall. These students taking classes together and living together in the same hall formed Freshmen Connection cohorts or learning communities. The Freshman Connection model still existed in 2006, but there was a new push to assign students to live together in cohorts who shared the same college or major–Honors College, Criminal Justice majors, Communications majors, etc.–while still utilizing the core course connection model. We also provided co-curricular programmatic support to address social needs and interests.

When I started in 2011, we started to push towards all the living-learning communities on our campus being major-oriented, not just ‘interest-based’. Students who were living together shared an interest in study abroad, exercise, eating healthy, leadership, etc. Now, our living-learning communities are solely college- or major-based with direct academic partners.

Around 2016, we discontinued Freshman Connections and no longer connect our students based on core curriculum, rather we connect them based on the entry-level courses related directly to their major. It was this shift to being intentional about supporting students academically in their major, as well as socially, that started to shift our thinking about including amenity spaces like discipline-oriented makerspaces into our residence hall design.

We started this to support university retention efforts and to assist students in their academic success. We know the more involved a student is on campus, whether participating in an organization or holding a campus job, knowing faculty or staff, having mentors, friends in their same major, etc., the more likely they are to continue with their education and graduate on time. In light of this data, we decided to provide a richer academic and skill development-oriented experience. In addition, we are improving faculty and staff support in these environments to be more conducive to what our students came here to study. The students who participate in our programs are significantly more likely to retain to the building with these amenities as well as retain to university and graduate on time.

What implications does the Living Learning Community have on the overall design?

It doesn’t really change how we do the ‘rooms’, but it greatly impacts the common spaces. Around 2010, in Schmidt/Wilson before it was renovated, the top floor penthouse was a open space with equipment for Emerging Media students. It wasn’t very big and was a bit of a pilot. Students really liked it and used the equipment for classes, personal projects, and to hang out.

Later, I got linked with Dr. Kate Shively, who introduced me to the concept of ‘makerspaces’ that was beginning to catch on and has now taken off on campuses and in communities all over the nation. Dr. Shively teaches first-year Elementary Education courses at Ball State and wanted a makerspace for her students studying education. We reconditioned some under-utilized lounge space to make that makerspace, and the students love to use it, especially in relationship to what they are learning in the classroom with Dr. Shively.

Around this time, we were starting to look at renovating Botsford/Swinford and wanted to build in a makerspace for the Communications and Emerging Media students who would be living there. Now there are two media studios and a large equipment storage area stocked with DSLR cameras, light kits, sounds kits and all sort of gear for students to check out and use as an amenity associated with living in this community. The students can study in the space or use the green screens and open space to rearrange furniture and set up video shoots and use the computers right there to edit. All of this is available to students living in this community before they have completed their communications gateway courses, which allows students in these majors to start developing their skills earlier and allows them to immediately get their hands on equipment to start making a thing.

BotsSwin - Living Learning Community

Botsford/Swinford Residence Hall

Gen Z students want to have hands-on experience now. While we can’t teach the class, we can provide equipment, some basic workshop instruction, and space for them to start learning on their own immediately. For those students who might need a little nudge, we provide opportunities for students to engage in major-oriented or skill-oriented co-curricular projects. The success was so strong, we decided to do a dance studio, design studio, and black box theater for our Theatre, Dance, Architecture, Art and Design majors in the next residence hall, Schmidt/Wilson. The students love having these specialized spaces where they live to practice in, to work in or to play with something new in line with their studies.

Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall - Living learning

Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall

 

What feedback are you hearing from students?

We haven’t put out a survey or anything like that until right now, but anecdotally, there has been a transformation on campus and there are now students coming to Ball State University for the learning communities. The students want to live in the buildings that are connected to their major. It has shifted the conversation to “I want to live here because of the amenity”, not because of its location or age of building. It’s because they want access to the amenity spaces related to their area of study.

Before any experience with Ball State University, prospective students are asking about the learning communities, not the residence hall. It’s exciting to see. We don’t know what all it means yet, or what it will lead to, but it’s positive feedback. It’s not just defining the experience a student has here, but before they even get here.

Do you have any measurable data on the effect the Living Learning Community model has on student recruitment or retention?

I don’t have data about how the space impacts the student’s decision, but we have some very basic use data from the Botsford/Swinford equipment storage area. The first year it wasn’t used much, but the response from students was positive about having the space. Equipment use has more than tripled since then. and we have had to keep adding equipment to the space to keep up with demand. The use data drives the decision of what other equipment we need to buy.

When we opened Botsford/Swinford, which is on the edge of campus and has traditionally been a hard sell to get students to want to live there, the question was whether they would want to return their Sophomore year. We were nervous as to whether this would retain students, but this building now has one of the highest return rates of freshman to sophomore year on campus, despite the location.

Overall, the retention to buildings with makerspaces is significantly higher than those without. Student participation in Living Learning Communities on our campus has been recognized by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness as one the leading predictors for student retention on our campus.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

In my role as the Assistant Director of Living Learning Communities, typically I would not have had a seat at the table in a new building or renovation design. Not because my opinion isn’t valued, but generally my role is not one of decision maker in matters of building design. When the idea for a specifically designed amenity came across, Schmidt Associates asked questions to seek an understanding of what was needed in the space and how the space would be used to inform its design. From my perspective, I enjoyed the process because it felt like we were creating something new, something tailored to Ball State University. I had the opportunity to sit at a table I don’t usually sit at and appreciated the questions Schmidt Associates asked about how to design a space that would fit our needs. Equally, I am appreciative of my Ball State University Housing leadership and facilities colleagues for allowing me the opportunity to speak directly to Schmidt Associates about my vision for how the space would be used. I very much see the product of those conversations in the design elements of our spaces.

I think after the early design conversations, we got into the nitty gritty details about where to put focal points, sound treatment, electrical outlets, etc. It was new to me, but I appreciated going through the process because I learned a lot about how the design process works and was able to help shape and form the building. The questions asked drove what the space would be, and how students would actually use and experience the space to ensure it was functional and would add value.

A Word from Our Owners – Cornerstone Lutheran Church

Jane Callahan

Jane Callahan is the Director of Organizational and New Site Development at Cornerstone Lutheran Church – Fishers. As director, she oversees the development of new sites for the church including policy and planning, building projects, and organizational changes and structure.  Jane has been with Cornerstone Lutheran Church for 5 years after a 35-year career in healthcare administration.

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We know you chose to use Schmidt Associates Extended Services. Can you tell us why you did this over other methodologies?

We have a long history with Schmidt Associates. The idea that the architect oversaw the people carrying out the plans was huge. We didn’t want to get finger pointing. And we didn’t, so that was good. Our previous experience with Schmidt Associates had been very positive doing renovation work at our Carmel site, so there was a sense of trust.

 

Who was part of the decision?

The building committee: the Pastors, a few congregation members, our facility manager, and a few others. In the initial bidding process, we interviewed three design/build contractors. This then led to a conversation about the extended services Schmidt Associates could provide.

We weren’t certain of what construction methodology we wanted. We just knew we needed someone who could do the project well. Schmidt Associates provided us options and we interviewed 3 other firms before deciding to use the Schmidt Associates Extended Services.

 

Would you do it again? Why?

We definitely would. We had someone from Schmidt Associates on-site every day. He was awesome and kept all the sub-contractors in sync and on schedule. Schmidt Associates also had someone come out once a week, Jeff Burnett. We had weekly meetings with Schmidt Associates, the contractors, myself and Gayle, our facilities manager. When there were issues that came up, Schmidt Associates discussed what happened. Our on-site construction administrator from Schmidt Associates was masterful at playing both sides to keep the construction personnel happy, while still holding them accountable. Jeff laid the hammer down. It was a good process.

If you have a design/build company that’s all one firm. They don’t have the critical third eye looking at the project. They are trying to cover their own tracks. Having the independent oversight was good.

One of the best things we did was having a firm out of Fort Wayne come in and evaluate everything that was done. This helped with the building envelope. It wasn’t cheap to do that, but it was well worth the money.

 

What was your experience like?

Overall it was very good with Schmidt Associates.  Our project bid and was built during a very competitive bid time. We had limited options because construction workforces were spread thin. This made it even more critical to have the Schmidt Associates Extended Services there to keep an eye on things.

A Word from Our Owners – Marian University & The Children’s Museum

Audra Blasdel

Audra Blasdel graduated from DePauw University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Computer Science and received her Masters of Business Administration with a focus in global supply chain management from the University of Indianapolis in 2009. Prior to starting her own company–Blasdel Solutions, a WBE Certified Project Management and Business Analysis company–she served as Marian University’s Executive Director of Facilities, Construction, and Purchasing.

In her current role as Director of Facility and Campus Operations at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Audra is responsible for the day-to-day campus operations for maintenance, grounds, and custodial; strategic campus planning, and construction and renovations projects. She lives in Speedway, Indiana, with her husband and son.

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Structures and systems will require maintenance and periodic repair and rehabilitation (R&R) at some point. By keeping campus buildings running smoothly and efficiently, we are able to prolong a building’s lifetime while saving on overall future costs for our Owners. These seemingly “small projects” have a large impact for Owners and the end users. While our designers and engineers are obviously well-equipped to do the large-scale projects, we also are ready to help our Owners through R&R projects. Let’s hear from Audra on her experiences throughout the years.

How did a comprehensive understanding of your facility conditions impact R&R expenditures?

In general terms, it allows us to better plan for our expenditures and gives us a broader understanding of our needs. At Marian University, we brought Schmidt Associates in to do facilities strategic planning and a larger campus master plan, all derived from a 2025 strategic plan. We then needed to build the campus master plan and a facilities strategic plan so that we could take large capital needs and compare it to daily facility needs. This results in a coordinated and well-thought out investment plan.

For example, this helped make sure we didn’t do large system replacement when we would be doing an addition to that building in a few years. It helped build a knowledge base in a centralized place rather than in various individuals’ heads. This work with Schmidt Associates helped us be smarter and more responsible.

What role has Schmidt Associates played in helping you maintain facilities at both Marian University and The Children’s Museum?

Schmidt Associates has provided a baseline assessment of facilities with an investment/expenditure plan as well as some Owner-friendly tools that allow us to manage the plan going forward. Those plans are developed in a way that allows us to manipulate and adjust the plan as we go through implementation, ensuring that the plan stays relevant and usable.  Plans are often developed in a stagnant manner, and they quickly become stale and end up on the shelf.  Steve Schaecher, an architect at Schmidt Associates, even drew a comic at some point to joke about the master plan ‘graveyard’.

masterplan graveyard

That’s been the biggest benefit to working with Schmidt Associates on these plans: keeping the plan workable, usable, and modifiable so it plan doesn’t end up in that graveyard. The focus in working with Schmidt Associates has always been how we make it an owner-friendly plan that maintains its life.

What type of R&R projects has Schmidt Associates worked with you for?

R&R strategic planning projects have included the Marian University Campus Master Plan and Facilities Strategic Plan. We’re currently working on a strategic investment plan for the parking garage structure at The Children’s Museum. Schmidt Associates has also provided scopes of work, estimate checks, and preliminary assessments on a variety of large scale R&R projects, such as boiler replacements, electrical upgrades, plumbing retrofits, and accessibility upgrades.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates.

For me, a lot of it has revolved around our long-lasting relationship over the past 7 years. This has included large- and small-scale projects and strategic planning. This opens the door for candid communication, something that is harder to have when everyone is new to the table. The consistency of who I work with and the way we work has allowed us to learn from each other and have an end product I can use going forward, which is really important. When I get a PDF that I have to regenerate documents out of, it’s not appealing. Facility priorities change every day and having a working document, not a stagnant document, is important for me on a strategic planning and R&R side.

A Word from our Owners – Greenwood Community Schools

Mike Hildebrand

Mike Hildebrand is a retired Indiana State Police Detective with over 23 years of service. He began his career in education with the Pike County School Corporation in Petersburg, Indiana in 2003. Mike was hired by Greenwood Community Schools in 2014 as the Director of Operations. He is the Administrator over the facilities, grounds, maintenance, transportation, and School Safety. Mike enjoys everything about the Greenwood Community Schools System because it is a great place to work and a great place for an education. He says it is a corporation where everyone feels like family. Mike and his wife Ruthann reside in Greenwood, and they have four grown children and 10 grandchildren. Of course, he is also a huge Alabama Football fan. Roll Tide!

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When you walk through the new Greenwood Middle School, you can easily forget that you are even in a K-12 facility. The school is designed around a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) curriculum that engages students and staff in project-based learning opportunities. All 160,000 square feet, each of the three floors, every single educational space was built with the student in mind. We wanted to talk with Mike Hildebrand to see how the engineering systems bring everything together, creating an efficient learning environment for all.

Greenwood Middle School

Tell us a little about the why Greenwood needed a new Middle School.

I can say the new Middle School was an absolute necessity, not just for our students and staff, but for the community. If you hadn’t seen the old school, just imagine décor from the 60’s to the 90’s, old restrooms, dark hallways, outdated cabinets in the classrooms, poor lighting, and few windows. The HVAC system was as old as the student’s parents and some grandparents. This new middle school is a better setting for our students. The better the learning atmosphere, the more desire there is to attend school. This gets teachers more excited to teach. Even the food tastes better in the new cafeteria!

The entire school is now welcoming, has easy lines of sight, and the aesthetics are wonderful. Just enough to make it appealing without the cost of fancy features.

Have you seen an increased level of occupant comfort in the new building?

Comfort is a must in every classroom setting. The Siemens control system is wonderful. The features are easy to understand, and changing a room or area’s temperature is a breeze. The ability to go to a night or unoccupied set back has saved us a considerable amount on utilities as well. Our custodial and maintenance staff dove in head first and are continuing to learn new tricks every day. The air quality is also a vast improvement from our old middle school, which had some sections starting from 1960’s.

The design of the facility itself makes the visual observation of students during the passing periods simple. One faculty member can stand at the junction of the two wings and see both halls from one vantage point. The design and features of today’s school has changed so much since I was in school, back in the 60’s and 70’s. The newest technology is used in every classroom, students are learning robotics at a much younger age, and every aspect of this facility was discussed to determine if this was going to benefit our students for the better. This facility was designed just to do that very thing. It was done the Greenwood way.

How has the learning environment improved daily life here at Greenwood Middle School – for the students, teachers, and those maintaining the new systems?

As you know, lighting is an important feature in any educational facility. Having gone from our old school’s lighting to new LED is absolutely a huge improvement, both for the students and staff. The automatic light features that turn on/off upon entry was a huge success with our staff. The dimmer capabilities are used almost daily by all of our staff while instruction is taking place with the overhead units onto the whiteboard marker walls. Each classroom has outdoor light access as well, offering the inviting ray of sunshine in for our students.

The HVAC units are definitely a well-received item and the biggest change from old univent systems to the new buildings system. No more high fan speed noise disrupting instruction, and no more too cold or too hot depending on where you sit in the room. The capability to change the temp + or – 3 degrees at the thermostat is awesome. Students learn better when they are comfortable in their environment.

In the old school, each classroom had a univent system. When there was a failure you could count on at least a 4-hour repair as you had to pull the unit from the wall, make the repairs, and then put it back in place. What a difference the vertical unit ventilation systems have made. Easy access, easier repairs, and less time consuming for our maintenance staff. Even the filter change is simpler and can take only a couple of minutes.

In general, what have you heard from staff, teachers, parents, and students about the new school?

Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck and Asst. Superintendent Mr. Todd Pritchett were an integral part of the success of the construction and completion of our new school. All of the physical aspects–the aesthetics, flooring, cafeteria area, media center and classrooms–have been praised by students, staff, and community. Our easy access points for the office area during the school day or the secondary entrance for our indoor athletic events are very welcoming without going over the top in costs.

The pride of Greenwood Community Schools has once again peaked to the point of happiness. Even our residential neighbors have had nothing but good things to say about what once used to be a farm field to now becoming a modern and beautiful school facility. In short, no one is more pleased than our students, our parents, our staff and our school leaders. We could not have hoped for more than what we’ve received in our new Greenwood Middle School.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates, specifically the engineering team?

My experience of working with Schmidt Associates has been wonderful, from the design portion all the way through to completion. Even with minor punch list items remaining a year in now, the cooperative effort has been amazing.

As issues would arise during the construction, the Schmidt team would provide detailed alternatives to the issues, have quick remedies as a solution, and implement the changes into the plan. Our relationship with Schmidt Associates has become one of trust, and their team of experts have addressed our needs and concerns in a timely manner.

Greenwood Community Schools has also used Schmidt Associates on other projects, and we are in the process of beginning yet another project at our High School.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

 

A Word from our Owners – Marian University

Russ Kershaw

Dr. Russ Kershaw has been the Dean of the Byrum School of Business at Marian University since 2010. Previously, he was the Dean of the School of Business Administration at Philadelphia University and also has held various positions at Butler University. Before entering the academic world, Russ spent 13 years in corporate America. During this time he held a variety of financial management positions at both Digital Equipment Corporation and General Electric. Russ holds a B.S. degree in accounting from Bentley College, an MBA from Babson College, and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of South Carolina. He is also a graduate of General Electric’s Financial Management Program.

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With growing enrollment in the Byrum School of Business, Marian University needed a facility that supported the school’s unique, experiential approach to learning. Breathing new life into this early 1900 facility, the addition and renovation of this facility has given the business school prominence on campus. Hear from Dr. Kershaw about how this new facility caters to Marian University students, professors, and the surrounding community.

Marian COB front

Addition to Historic Building

Tell us a little about the College of Business project and how the building is benefiting campus:

It was a significant addition to the Marian University academic facilities. In six short months, it has become a very popular facility across campus. Not only the classrooms, but the presentation room and the board room. The spaces are popular across campus and outside of campus with companies holding meetings in the board room and presentation room, which are being used as we speak by an outside organization. They are very flexible in design and can be set up in different formats to accommodate a five-person or 90-person meeting. The technology is there to support the needs of each group.

This is the coolest academic building on campus right now, other than the medical school. During the school year, med students are coming here to use the team rooms to study in. It helps that we have a Subway restaurant inside our building so people can get food. It’s become a very popular place, and all the spaces are being widely used across campus in its entirety.

We’ve only been in the business school for one semester, but the way to describe it is ‘that it was designed precisely for our program.’ We do a lot of project work, team-based teaching, experiential learning. This facility was designed for that, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the classroom layouts and the use of the presentation and board room. It’s designed perfectly for the way we teach business at Marian University.

How important is the student to student, student to faculty, and faculty to faculty interaction? Where did this occur in your old spaces? Where is it now?

It’s critical to our program. We have shifted from the traditional read a text book, come to class, listen to a lecture, and take a test while sitting in nice neat rows facing the professor and taking notes. We now have shifted to a project based learning mode where we are teaching accounting, economic, finance, marketing, etc. all while doing projects for real clients with key concepts. The students are constantly working in teams collaborating, so our classrooms are modular. If you looked at our classrooms right now, most are set up in pods of 5-6 students because that’s how we teach.

The communication among students and faculty is a different ball game in our program than a traditional one-way professor to student interaction.  The space is designed to make that happen, encourage it, and make it easy to do. It’s two-way, and the faculty is a facilitator instead of a professor. They roam the classroom answering questions and asking questions. They meet with individual groups to help or listen to the students present in the presentation hall. Sometimes it’s a practice presentation before the ‘grand finale’ at the end of the semester. It’s not a final exam anymore, it’s a presentation to the client they were doing the project for.

In our old facility, we were in old style classrooms with fixed seating or the chairs with their own folding desk. In some classrooms it was virtually impossible to teach our curriculum with the space we have. This new space is critical to the program we have built.

Pod-Style Classroom

As you walk through the building each day, how much of the ‘accidental interaction’ spaces are being used?

When students are here, it’s constant. Outside of the main classroom area, the soft seating area is constantly filled with students and faculty. It’s like a Starbucks with many impromptu meetings, waiting before or after class, etc. This open area is great to have in addition to the extensively used, more private team rooms.

The presentation room, when it’s not in use for a presentation with the glass door closed, the door is purposely left open. Students meet on the stairs, eat lunch in there, maybe even take a nap! (I just ask them to use a low stair if they are going nap so they don’t roll all the way down). It gets used quite a bit when it is open because it is a cool space with all the light, windows, and high ceilings. It has become the center piece and show off point for the building. People say ‘wow’ when they see it, and they like to be in it. There’s also plenty of outlets for them to charge their devices in the spaces, which is critical.

COB Spaces

Student Lounge Space and Presentation Room

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

I was mostly involved in the design phase as opposed to construction phase, so I can’t speak to the construction details. From a design stand point, it couldn’t have been better. It probably helped that Sarah Hempstead is a member of the Business School Advisory Board. It worked well because she was very aware of the curriculum and intimately involved with understanding how we teach. This really helped with the design process. If I had a thought or idea, Sarah could finish my sentence because she knew what I was thinking. I didn’t have to explain anything. From my perspective, it was awesome to work with someone who knew what we wanted to accomplish.

Anything else?

We are over the moon and ecstatic about the facility. When we opened last January, which was our second semester, the students were shocked when they came and saw the space designed for them. They were excited to be in such a cool facility. It’s great to see that reaction and know they are grateful and proud of the school.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

 

A Word from our Owners – Shelbyville Central Schools

David Adams, Shelbyville Central SchoolsDr. David Adams has 36 years of service in public school systems, all in Indiana. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education at Ball State University, Masters of Science from Indiana University, Ed. S from Ball State University, and Ph.D. in Education Administration from Indiana State University. He will retire next year, after completing his fourteenth year as superintendent of Shelbyville Central Schools. He and his wife, Dr. Cindy

Adams, have two married children and two grandchildren.

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When Marsh Supermarkets closed up shop in 2017, there have been numerous literal empty holes in the communities they served. A year later, there are still several dilapidated stores sitting as vacant eyesores around Indiana. However, some communities have taken initiative and capitalized on this large amount of empty potential.

We often look at historic structures as the best candidates for adaptive reuse, however, any underutilized facility could be a good potential reuse opportunity. Schmidt Associates has been fortunate to help reimagine a church into a dynamic bar/restaurant, a hospital into a top of the line Higher Education facility, an old bank into a beautiful lobby and social hub, and now we are turning our sights to a former strip mall.

An abandoned, 63,000-square-foot complex–once housing a Marsh grocery store, retail area, restaurant, movie rental store, and a bank–will be transforming into something usable for Shelbyville Central Schools and the community. A new preschool will go into the grocery store area, Senses space will go into the retail spaces, and a bank will turn into administrative offices for the school corporation. Here at Schmidt Associates, we were up to the challenge of turning neglected, wide-open retail space into something productive for the community. Mayor Tom DeBaun said in his interview with The Shelbyville News, “with the plans they have, the things they are going to do for that facility, it’s growing their capacity and it’s stabilizing a neighborhood.”

We sat down with Dr. Adams to get his take on this unique and transformative project.

Shelbyville Preschool Main entry

Tell us how this project will benefit the students:

When Marsh Supermarket closed their Shelbyville store in 2011, the building remained vacant for many years. Shelbyville Central Schools saw an opportunity to turn it into something that could greatly benefit the community and school corporation.

Over time, we’ve found that we have many children entering school with diverse needs and are years behind in academic development before they even begin kindergarten. Their chances of success are very low. To address this problem, we want to establish this preschool to provide early intervention to better meet the needs of our students and community.

When you look at the dropout rates, you can often predict those students when you look at their lack of success throughout school. Our goal with this project is to get these 3- and 4-year-olds on track, and keep them there. Early intervention is the key in forming the beginning skills and habits necessary for students to be successful in their educational pursuits. It leads to a more positive learning experience, academic achievement, and higher graduation rates. We are also excited for the opportunity to have the chance to expand on our special needs program with this project.

An old Marsh is a unique location for a new preschool. Can you talk a little more about that?

Long term vacant buildings in a community sends the wrong message. Shelbyville Central Schools has been thinking about doing a new preschool for years, so we thought we could do a favor to the community by repurposing the empty Marsh building. Taking what was an eyesore and turning it into a new, attractive preschool benefits everyone. Schools are very important when it comes to attracting new business and young families to an area, which is why we believe this building will be an asset for all.

Shelbyville Preschool - admin entry

Proposed Rendering – Administrative Entrance

What are the most important aspects of an early childhood project, from your perspective?

Education has become very competitive, so there is a need to constantly market to prospective families. People can choose to enroll their children in any school corporation with open enrollment. Shelbyville Central Schools’ commitment to a quality education for children of all ages is made even more evident with the addition of this facility and the enhanced focus on early childhood education.

It is obvious that having an appropriate, solid educational curriculum is the most important aspect of early childhood education. But the building’s aesthetics, interior and exterior, are also important. When a parent drives by or is first walking up to the school, the exterior needs to draw them. The interior should prove it can meet the students’ needs.

This preschool is going to serve as a gateway into our K-12 schools, giving children a good start to their school career. We want parents to feel excited and comfortable to enroll their child in our preschool. We want to keep them within our community for the long-term, as well as attract new families.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

I’ve worked on several projects with Schmidt Associates in the past. The experiences have always been positive, and the leadership is very strong. What I like most about Schmidt Associates, is their client-focus. They listen to your needs and work closely with you throughout the project. Millions of tax dollars are invested in school corporation projects, and Schmidt Associates excels in consistently providing the highest quality results.

I have worked with Sarah Hempstead throughout the years and have developed a level of trust and good communication with her. I am confident that Sarah and the Schmidt Associates team can guide our school corporation in the right direction, look out for our best interest, and have the skills to produce a quality facility for Shelbyville Central Schools and the Shelbyville community.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!

A Word from our Owners – Ball State University

David Shepherd Ball StateDavid Shepherd – Facilities Engineer, Ball State University 

David is a Facilities Engineer at Ball State University where he coordinates, designs, and oversees construction of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, including projects from small maintenance repair and replacements to large capital improvement projects and new construction.

David has over 15 years of professional experience in consulting engineering, construction and facility management. He also supports the skilled trade shops at Ball State from an engineering standpoint, overseeing training of new systems and managing all commissioning activities.

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Schmidt Associates has worked with Ball State University on several large capital projects. Recently, we’ve been providing engineering services for various facility maintenance projects across campus.

 

How do you approach operation and maintenance for your facilities?

As far as operations go, you must look at things with the future in mind. We always try to plan for what we think is going to happen down the road. You need to make it a key point within the maintenance group that they understand how preventative maintenance is key to the longevity of the equipment and our facilities. I push that a lot with our shops – during training sessions, they need to listen and take notes. For example, you may need to use a specific kind of grease on a specific type of bearing. If they don’t get it right, that will lead to early failure of equipment.

 

What are the most important aspects of a project from the Operations and Maintenance perspective?

The quality of the installation from the contractors is critical from an operations and maintenance standpoint. If they don’t install equipment properly, that can lead to early failures. Getting the team trained properly is also one of the most important aspects.

While in the design phase, the most important aspect, in my opinion, is that they listen to our recommendations and follow our Ball State standards. That is what I struggle with sometimes, I need the team to realize there is a reason that we have these standards. We need them to do what we want them to do not what they think is the best. We have created these standards from past experiences.

 

What do you see as a future trend in higher education facilities?

I would say the one thing, from my MEP aspect, is lighting. Everything is going to LED, with more capabilities for color tuning and controls. This improves the environment as far as people’s attitudes and general health – LED is more natural and brighter when compared to dingy fluorescents.

 

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates on BSU housing?

The quality has been very good. It helps because the Schmidt Associates team has been working at Ball State for a long time. They understand our facilities people and our standards. It makes it easier for us when we don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to fix mistakes because the team already understands what we want.

Another thing is they are always quick to act when an issue comes up. Ryan Benson has been a great advocate for us, he pushes back on contractors when we need him to. He has been one of the best architects I’ve worked with because he truly understands who he is working for.

The engineers have been great at picking up things I’ve commented on and recommending ways to make a system better that I didn’t think about before.

 

Anything else you would like to add that I might have missed?

From my standpoint, I just want everyone to understand how critical it is to maintain our equipment so we get the life expectancy out of it. Maintenance and quality installations are the two points I want to drive home!

 

If you have any facility operation and maintenance questions, reach out to us!