Preserving Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Midtown Dream
How the Schmidt Associates team helped keep MLK Center operating
The Martin Luther King Community Center (MLK Center) at 40th and Illinois is an important community resource serving families from the Butler-Tarkington, Crown Hill, Mapleton-Fall Creek, and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods by embracing the teachings and philosophies of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Deeply rooted in the values of educating youth, empowering families, and promoting racial justice, the MLK center provides a peaceful atmosphere and connection space where everyone can gather, converse, create, problem solve, and interact for the greater good. Since 2018, Schmidt Associates has been privileged to help this dynamic community-based organization translate their goals and objectives into a modern build environment. Here’s how everything came to fruition.
To begin the process, the MLK Center leadership hired Schmidt Associates for a facility assessment that examined existing building conditions, including the site, building envelope, interiors, and systems. The result of this exercise was identifying code and accessibility issues and helping leadership develop a list of necessary repairs and applicable costs. This helped establish prioritization and chart a schedule for future activities.
“To get a sense of an existing building’s condition, we always recommend an assessment to help in determining where to start with a renovation,” Project Manager Eddie Layton explains. “It’s a good exercise that can save time and help organizations like MLK Center better understand how to plan and budget.”
Taking the MLK Center’s dream and transforming their building into a modern reality, Schmidt Associates architects and engineers renovated the first-floor public spaces, replaced windows, and upgraded MEP systems after completing a retro-commissioning study. Today, the building is equipped with energy efficiency after implementing many of the recommendations coming out of the study. Best of all, the MLK Center qualified for a utility rebate from AES Indiana, which help helped offset repair costs.
“Upgrading the systems and renovating the building has resulted in a more modern space and provided a place for students and families from the Midtown neighborhoods to enjoy for many years,” Layton said. “Without making the improvements, the building was in danger of closing, which would have displaced many who have come to rely on the center.”
The Best Buy Teen Tech Center
While remaining open, improvements were also made to the second floor, which features the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, also designed by Schmidt Associates. After a sizable investment was made by Best Buy, the MLK Center is now training students in robotics, 3D and graphic design, music production, coding, embroidery, and much more. Within the center, teens and young adults are using state-of-the-art technology and building skills in the makerspace that are positively contributing to a brighter future for students while growing the state’s STEM workforce.
Through the MLK Center, users have opportunities to learn, play, grow, and find peace. By providing vital individual skills and family resources that allow residents in the Mid-North neighborhoods of Indianapolis to grow and enhance their lives, students and families can remain on paths to success and stability.
As expert facility designers and servant leaders who are genuinely invested in improving communities by designing the Midwest’s built environment, it has been a pleasure serving this treasured community resource.