Agriculture is the lifeblood of Indiana, and the Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion stands as a tribute to the past and a gateway to the future. With a rich agricultural heritage deeply embedded in its foundation, this Pavilion is a multi-purpose event venue and a nod to the indomitable spirit of the farming community. Thanks to the transformative work of the Schmidt Associates design team, the Pavilion has become a living legacy, preserving Indiana’s agricultural story.
Agriculture: The Heartbeat of Indiana
Agriculture is more than an industry in Indiana. Fueling the economy, providing sustenance, and fostering community, agriculture is the engine that keeps Indiana running, and as the design architects on the Pavilion, the Schmidt Associates team was pleased to play a leading role in telling the story and supporting future farmers. With insights from the Indiana State Fair Commission leaders, we learned about agriculture’s legacy in the state and developed a strategy to make the Pavilion an educational destination, where visitors can explore its impact on society.
Unveiling the Farming Lifecycle
Central to the Pavilion’s story is its legacy as “The Swine Barn,” educational displays curated by the Indiana Pork Producers Association narrate the powerful story of farming in Indiana. This immersive exhibit explores of the symbiotic relationship between farming, sustenance, job creation, and the economy. Through captivating visuals, games, photo opportunities, and informative narratives, visitors are enlightened on what a “pig deal” Indiana’s agricultural economy is to the health of the state and the world.
A Touch of Artistry
Collaborating with Bloomington-based Artist and Sculptor Amy Brier, Design Architect Steve Alspaugh helped add a unique artistic dimension to the Pavilion’s south facade. Four large intricately crafted limestone relief sculptures, inspired by the original terra cotta swine head rondels on the historic facade and Indiana’s agricultural history, tell a visual story that captures the spirit of the land.
The first panel celebrates Indiana’s staple crops – corn and soybeans – the lifeblood of the state’s agricultural landscape. The two center panels honor the Indiana State Fair grand champions, showcasing young men and women in the agricultural industry. The final panel is a classic still-life, featuring Indiana products like mint, corn, eggs, watermelon, and tomatoes.
A nod to the building’s original roots, each panel proudly displays a swine head in each corner, representing the most popular swine breeds and the significance of the industry in Indiana’s economy. Brier’s inspiration stemmed from a desire to create art that speaks to everyone, transcending generations, and backgrounds.
“After being recommended by Mark Ruschmann from the Indiana State Museum, I began collaborating with Steve and Ray Allison from the Indiana State Fair to develop a legacy element,” Brier said. “It was an honor and a privilege being part of the fabric and history of the state.”
Architects of Preservation
The Pavilion’s journey from the aging and crumbling Swine Barn structure to a reimagined legacy facility is a tale of architectural ingenuity and a commitment to agricultural heritage. Designers took on the challenge of transforming the century-old building into a space that not only houses year-round livestock, sports, and convention events but also narrates the legacy of agriculture in Indiana. From preserving the original swine head rondels and the historic “main street façade” to integrating artwork and original woodwork into existing archways, to creating new sculptures and exhibits, the building blends a preservation mindset with new construction, enriching the experience of the user.
Resilience in Architecture
The Fall Creek Pavilion is not just bricks and mortar; it’s a narrative of Indiana. The building shows the enduring spirit of farmers, weathering the test of time to embrace progress while staying rooted in tradition. Through thoughtful design and construction, Schmidt Associates has woven that story into the very fabric of the Pavilion, creating a space that mirrors the intent of those it aims to honor.
As visitors step into the Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion, they don’t just enter a venue; they embark on a journey through the heart and soul of Indiana’s agricultural legacy. Our team, with their skillful hands and visionary minds, have not only preserved history but also designed a space that educates, inspires, and pays homage to the farmers who have shaped the state. The Pavilion binds Indiana’s agriculture to its people, promising a bountiful harvest of knowledge for generations of Hoosiers.
Ready to design your next community building project and tell a remarkable story of architectural brilliance, sustainability, and heritage? Let’s talk.
* Sarah Hempstead, AIA, LEED AP, is CEO and principal for Schmidt Associates