Q&A Session with Steve Alspaugh
Fast Facts about Steve Alspaugh
Discipline: Design Architect
Hometown: Monticello, IN
Undergrad: Ball State University
Graduate: Ball State University
Favorite Spot on Mass Ave: MacNivens
It was April 3, 1974, and major storms were descending on Monticello, IN. Three tornadoes tore through the small city northwest of Indianapolis, destroying it in about 20 minutes. That day changed and re-shaped the city—it also shaped design architect Steve Alspaugh.
What about that day changed the course of your future?
Following that storm in my hometown, the reconstruction of Monticello was a priority for the next decade. What that did was create construction jobs. I had Union wage construction jobs for five summers while I was in college.
While I was making good money for my age, the work was difficult. When I got home at night, many times I could barely lift my hands above my head to wash my hair. It was physically grueling, but it greatly informed my construction knowledge. I knew how to put buildings together before I knew how to design them. I feel like I am a better designer because I understand the physical implementation of my drawings.
But the influence of construction started before that, right?
Yes. Growing up, my dad worked for my uncle’s heating and plumbing contracting business and was very knowledgeable about construction in general. He passed that “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality to me.
Are you passing on that mentality, too?
In fact, my son Ethan is following that same path: studying architecture at the University of Cincinnati and working construction jobs during the summer to understand the buildings better.
We heard you have kept a few things from your favorite projects.
I have a couple pieces of wood at my desk that aren’t interesting until you know what they are. One is a hollow piece of wood with a cut through it. When we were building Goshen College Music Center, they commissioned a custom-built Taylor & Boody organ. During installation, they had to cut the wooden pipes to exact specifications. I kept one of the discarded pieces. I also keep the cut-off end of a baseball bat made at the Louisville Slugger plant.
What do you do when you’re not designing buildings?
I really enjoy bike riding and tennis, but that has been difficult since I had surgery on my knee in November 2015. Though I could probably go hit around right now, I certainly don’t play competitively anymore. Fortunately, the bike works just fine with the new knee.
I also try to get up to Wrigley Field in Chicago to watch the Cubs play at least once a year. When I was in junior high, we got our first cable television connection, and I could watch the WGN Superstation. Though I was already a Cubs fan, my love was fueled because I was able to watch them so often.
Tell us about your family.
I married my wife, Linda, in September 1995—exactly seven years to the day from our first date. (Coincidentally, I asked her to marry me six years to the day from our first date.) Together, we have Ethan, my 22-year-old son.
Family is very important to me. Some of my cousins call me the “Glue Guy” because I am the glue that keeps my extended family together and connected.
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