Posts

Q&A Session with Kyle Miller

Whether it’s the management of a multi-million dollar school, creation of the music behind project videos, or poker on a Friday night, Kyle Miller—Principal and Project Manager at Schmidt Associates—puts full effort into all he does.

 

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shelbyville, Indiana and have held a full-time job since I was 16. I started out working at a grocery store and continued working there all through college and even four years after I landed my first “real” job with a civil engineering firm.

What is your passion, outside of work? Kyle and his guitar

I have always had a passion for music, whether it is piano or guitar, composition or performance, and it’s been a constant throughout life.

I loved playing guitar and going to concerts with friends in high school, and I guess it just continued into my adult life. Around 2000, I joined my first real band, Magnolia. We performed southern and classic rock at local bars and parties around town. After that band had ran its course, I joined Throwback Jack with the drummer from Magnolia. That was a lot of fun.

Additionally, I started playing in the praise band at my church. I played about 49 of the 52 weeks out of the year for 13 years. Between practices on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning services, it was a lot of work. But perhaps the most exciting music I have ever played was for the Lebanon Educational Foundation Follies. For 12 years, I participated in this annual show where I was given 50 songs (generally Broadway show tunes) with sheet music that I had to learn in a week. It was fun and I developed many new relationships—but mostly, it was the biggest challenge, musically, I have ever had.

What inspires you?
I love getting to know people. So, I love pursuing a new opportunity or a new project. Of course, once the pursuit is over, I constantly worry about my new clients and delivering on the promises I made to them.

What’s your favorite thing to do downtown?
We actually moved downtown in 2014. The kids were out of high school and my wife and I were ready for a change from suburban life. We both like downtown—visiting and working—so we decided to build a house in Fall Creek Place. Interestingly, the house that is right next door to mine was the former home of Reverend Jim Jones. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid!

That said, we obviously spend a lot of time downtown. I love to eat lunch at Bru and dinner at Salt and we have season tickets to the Colts. We just love the city and all that it has to offer.

What’s something not everyone knows about you?
Not only do I play music, but I also compose. I had written a song for a country music band I played with. The lead singer from that group actually took the song—music and lyrics—to a professional producer/musician in Nashville and had it professionally recorded.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Not sure if it’s a talent, maybe a problem, but I play a lot of poker—and sometimes I win. I am a founding member, five-time winner, and PLA (Poker League Administrator) for the Premier Indy Men’s Poker Society (PIMPS).

Kyle and his wife, Amy have been married 23 years. They have three kids—Dustin, 30; Erin, 28; and Danielle, 26; and one granddaughter—Arianna, 10.

Kyle Miller's Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie Layton, and Anna Marie Burrell

Why Is Adaptive Reuse Important in Today’s World?

To understand the importance of adaptive reuse, one must first appreciate the value of old buildings and architecture.

While it can feel “progressive” to tear down the old in order to make room for the new, adaptive reuse defines progress differently. Rather than creating a narrow vision that imagines possibilities with a blank slate, reuse tailors creative thinking to focus on what currently exists and how it can be incorporated thoughtfully into the goals and ideas of the future. Adaptive reuse can be implemented on any building, although it’s most commonly used for when working with historic buildings.

As the world ages collectively, more and more buildings with rich histories are finding themselves in need of renovation and rejuvenation; adaptive reuse is the conscious decision to preserve the past while planning for the future. For example, many adaptive reuse projects bridge different worlds – churches becoming restaurants, hospitals becoming schools, and more.

Adaptive Reuse Example at Ivy Tech

Depending on the context, adaptive reuse can go by the name of property rehabilitation or historic redevelopment. Either way, the process and overall goal remains the same: to rescue discarded, unkempt buildings from a destructive fate and find them a new purpose.

Of course, adaptive reuse is not just a sentimental effort to save buildings, it is also a critical process to ensure communities don’t use (or waste) more materials than necessary.

Some cities have, unfortunately, decided to adopt a “newer is better” mindset, causing them to discard perfectly fine, usable resources in order to “upgrade”. This thinking has caused major issues for our environment and will continue to do so until we are able to see value in materials as they age. Instead, people should look at progressive cities, like Paris, London, and Amsterdam, for inspiration; many historic structures and facades in these iconic towns have been lovingly preserved for generations to come. In fact, adaptive reuse is a great example of how individuals can prove to the larger group that there are creative options for recycling, reusing, and repurposing already existing resources.

Sometimes cases will be made against reuse, mostly regarding factors that include the cost, time, and efficiency. However, adaptive reuse is both appealing and practical; sometimes even saving money by reducing certain costs. Other underlying factors, such as being able to use hard-to-find materials or recycle materials already on the location, allow for additional money to be saved – and all while making it possible to create beautiful aesthetics complete with rich textures and unique features. Lastly, the entire adaptive reuse process, from start to finish, protects the environment while also reducing unnecessary waste.

Any adaptive reuse project begins by doing a thorough examination of the building, to ensure the infrastructure exists to keep it functioning into the future. Then you can look for unique attributes and characteristics that make the building special. These features can be highlighted in new and exciting ways, once again giving them purpose and prominence. When looking for these unique elements, one can find what some see as a “ready to demolish” building and instead see both beauty and value. This allows for seemingly doomed buildings, and the often debilitated communities in which they stand, a chance at a new and brighter future.

Above all, the biggest driving factor behind adaptive reuse is the ability to keep stories and memories intact. In a world where mass production and imitation is the norm, adaptive reuse goes against the grain, literally building upon already existing stories, adding new chapters without rewriting an entire book.

Six Biophilic Design Tactics

“Biophilia is the humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. It helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us; why a garden view can enhance our creativity; why shadows and heights instill fascination and fear; and why animal companionship and strolling through a park have restorative, healing effects.”

Terrapin Bright Green

What Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design is the broad application of connections with natural environments, elements, and patterns. It can be viewed as the relationship of science, nature, and the built environment combined. Humans impact nature as much as nature impacts humans. This isn’t exactly a new concept – people always have and always will associate closely with the natural world, even when we are inside a building during most of the day. But we are coming up with new ways to talk about it, think about what it means, and apply the findings to design.

Why does it matter?

There are two main factors that drive the need for biophilic design:

  1. We spend about 90% of our time indoors
  2. Urbanization: increase in buildings and decrease of green spaces

As designers, we are tasked with bringing some of those natural elements back to human lives. The benefits to biophilic design elements are mutually beneficial to the end users and to the business’ bottom line. Backed by research, these basic benefits include:

  • Improves mood, physical and mental health, and cognitive function
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Increases productivity, performance, engagement, and creativity
  • Advances the natural healing process

How do we do it?

First off, as designers, we listen to our Owners to gather insight on their needs and priorities for their end users. Then we determine what is possible in terms of biophilic design and how it will benefit the end user and Owner. In the design process, we strive to find the sweet spot between quality and quantity within the space – ensuring we don’t over saturate. A school will have obviously different requirements and needs than an office building, but the basic design tactics are the same:

  1. Natural Daylight

Introduce natural daylighting into buildings to the greatest extent possible for maximum benefit, but do so in a controlled and responsive manner. Proper building orientation means maximizing southern and northern exposures and minimizing east and west exposures. Worried about the energy costs of having a wall full of windows? Don’t worry, this is where engineers come in and help design with tools for energy savings. Exterior shading devices, elements that push daylight deeper into the building, and proper interior window treatments can be incorporated.

Biomorphic - natural daylight

  1. Fabrics, finishes, and lighting

Choosing fabric colors, textures, and patterns that occur naturally in the environment around them is a simple way to provide connection to the outdoors. Using palm tree patterns, nautical textures, and beachy colors may not be the best choice for a building in Indiana – it would be best to incorporate something more authentic to the geology of a specific place. This can be wood planks, limestone features, and a neutral color palette.

As for lighting, try to include technology that allows users to mimic the lighting outdoors. For example, include dimmers so lights can be slightly lowered as the sun goes down. Shadows within the space will mimic what is happening outside this way as well.

Biomorphic - finishes

  1. Real plants and water features

Make sure not to forget large and small plants when planning interior design elements. Naturally weaving organic materials into a design helps to give an authentic and cool vibe. Other than being aesthetically pleasing, natural plants also help improve indoor air quality.

It is important to consider what windows face outside – plants and/or water features should be placed strategically outdoors as well. The benefits to biophilic design will be heighted when the user is looking at big trees, colorful flowers, or peaceful water fountains even when the users are still indoors. A courtyard area (inside of out) with a water feature and plants creates a calm refuge area from the busy day.

Biomorphic - plants and water features

  1. Give them a view

Like we mentioned above, give a visual connection to nature and let plenty of natural light in. Panoramic views, or large windows positioned next to common or lounge areas give users a chance to have a moment to practice mindfulness, a good breather from the busy day. Plan office layouts that position desks to face windows.

If designing for an exterior courtyard, arrange an indoor seating area around those windows so people can still peer out at the activity even when they can’t join. Providing movement within users’ line of sight will give them a visual break they need to stay focused.

Biophilic - give them a view

  1. Biomorphic design elements

This means integrating naturally occurring shapes, forms, or patterns suggestive of nature and living things into the design of the built environment. This can be merged into the previous point (fabrics, treatments, and finishes) and/or through the building’s structural and ornamental design. Apply biomorphic design elements to two or three surfaces, too much could cause a negative reaction for users.

Biomorphic patterns

  1. Artwork

If there is little opportunity to give users a full view of the outdoors or to incorporate organic materials, murals of a landscape scene can serve as a good alternative. On a smaller scale, paintings or sculptures are nice touches to add to a space that provides a good view of the outdoors.

Biomorphic - artwork

 

There will always be restrictions – budget, priorities, safety, or available square footage – on how grand the biophilic design gestures can be. But even the smallest touches can create a big overall impact on users. If you can’t do a huge wall of windows or provide a jungle-like courtyard, sprinkling biophilic design elements sparingly in common spaces and high-traffic areas can still have a significant impact on users. So take a short (or long) break and find a way to immerse yourself in nature to improve your day and health!

Accidental Interaction

Think back to when you were in college. Do you remember when and where your best learning happened? Chances are, it wasn’t necessarily in the classroom. Your college education more likely happened while you socialized by the front desk of your residence hall, or while you lay on the grass in the quad, or even while you hung around the vending machines in the hallway.

Let’s face it, education is going to happen everywhere, regardless of walls, doors, windows — boundaries. In an academic building, these spaces can occur in the hallways or alcoves of a building that gets heavy foot traffic. In a residence hall, they can occur at collection points or a naturally-occurring alcove.

The key to the design of accidental interaction spaces is to take advantage of the potential.

Designing for the accidental

An Accidental Interaction Space can be any size space that includes a variety of furniture styles, providing opportunity for interaction, engagement, and collaboration.

While not formally programmed, planning for an accidental interaction space is an intentional part of the architect’s design process. They will look at “the space between” to see where they can create a secondary, or hidden, opportunity within the design.

Successful accidental interaction spaces incorporate design elements that subconsciously encourage people to interact. Because interaction is key, it makes sense to add design elements around collection points and along circulation paths.

Ask the right questions

What makes good design great is utilizing the space in meaningful ways. It’s important to ask questions that strengthen the potential for interaction, like:

  • How do people who utilize this space get from place to place?
  • What happens along a hallway or corridor for the people in this space?
  • Does any natural light stream into a specific focal point?
  • What can bring a little relief along that pathway?

These kinds of questions add another layer of information and design, ultimately offering added value to the designed space.

Building Community

While designing for Botsford/Swinford Residence Hall, programmed specifically for Ball State Honors’ College students, the Schmidt Associates’ design team looked for ways to develop community through accidental interaction.

Botsford/Swinford Accidental Interaction

Botsford/Swinford Residence Hall

The design team incorporated varying levels of interaction in Botsford/Swinford along the residents’ natural circulation paths. Smaller, more intimate spaces along the path near stairs and elevators allow introverted personalities to visually connect with their more extroverted peers who are hanging out in the large lounge spaces or as they travel to and from their rooms. This intentional, yet unprogrammed, accidental interaction is the foundation for a sense of social and community connection for the individual student with residence hall peers as well as the entire campus.

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.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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!

 

Designing ADA for Independent Living

The Erskine Green Training Institute and Courtyard by Marriott – Muncie developed under the dream of The Arc of Indiana with the helpful insights from Self-Advocates of Indiana. This hotel and training institute is now a place where individuals with disabilities can gain post secondary education in an immersive learning environment. The students stay in the hotel for the duration of their program as well.

Throughout this project’s process, we understood that every aspect of this unique hotel would need to be designed with ADA requirements at the forefront. The magazine below gives a detailed look at design decisions and code requirements for projects such as this:

Q&A Session with Anna Marie Burrell

Anna Marie Burrell

From the infectious smile to the genuine care and concern for those around her to her constant flurry of activity, Anna Marie Burrell—K-12 Studio Leader and Principal-in-Charge—has a magnetic and energetic personality. Below, we try to get her to take a few minutes to just breathe and share a bit of her life.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Lantern Hills—an enchanted, undulating wooded neighborhood on the border of the then-active Ft. Benjamin Harrison. So, when I think back to my childhood, I remember sneaking tools out of dad’s workshop to build “forts” with my neighborhood friends for our imaginary secret society. P.I.G.s was the name of our secret group, code for Private Investigating Girls. Can you guess what our password was? We were headquartered—along with multiple expansion sites—throughout our forested world. P.I.G.s members were serious about our work and probably had too much fun torturing my brother by taking his favorite toys so we could later find them hidden up in trees.

I guess you can say that I have always been caught up in my imagination and drawn to those who have fun dreaming up new experiences.

And now?
This is my cheer squad:

Anna Marie Family

I married Tim in 1994, and we have two sons together — Sam (18) and Aaron (20). We have always been a close-knit family that loves to have fun. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Eddie, my labradoodle. We love dressing him up, but I am not sure if he loves it as much as we do.

What inspires you?

The arts, specifically dance. To feed my need to keep moving, my parents introduced me to ballet. I was hooked and spent every minute I could at Butler University’s Jordan Academy of Dance learning from instructors of a multitude of global and cultural backgrounds. I learned I loved creating or telling stories without the use of words through dance. I loved, and still love, the emotion of dance and the lines, rhythms, surprises, and forms that are endless only to one’s imagination. As an architect, I have realized these same elements are key to the delivery of any successful design project.

My love for dance continues today as I am starting to get involved with Kids Dance Outreach (KDO)—an organization providing children, regardless of income, with an opportunity to learn and experience the joy of dance.

What do you do in your free time?
I love to jump on the back of our motorcycle with my husband, Tim, and just ride with no agenda. It snaps me into the happiest of moods.

Anna Marie Burrell Motorcycle

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d love to explore Southern France, though lately I’ve been obsessing with wanting to go dog sledding in the countryside around Quebec. To be clear, my idea of dog sledding includes blankets and hot chocolate while someone else “drives” the dogs for me.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I’m never at my desk, instead I carry a backpack with scarves to hold my hair back. I never know when I might get whisked off on an impromptu motorcycle adventure.

So, have you guessed that P.I.G.s secret password yet? OINK!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin Shelley, and Eddie Layton

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.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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!

User Engagement Early in Design

Here at Schmidt Associates, we like user engagement to happen early in the design process to help determine how the spaces need to work and how the facility can best help them meet their mission. We prefer one or two meetings during schematic design and another at the end of a project through a room-by-room review process to ensure that all project needs have been addressed before going out to bid.

puzzle piece during user engagementAnother way we do this is through our Puzzle Piece© exercise. We developed this process to gather input from the client group, using puzzle-like pieces of various space components and then ask the client to put them together the way they think they should be organized. This has continued to be one of the most revealing exercises to establish the most important spatial relationships that will drive decisions. We can translate those puzzle piece models into actual Revit, 3-D models, that become the base for our on-going design and construction documents.

What you can learn:

Through these user group interactions, you have the chance to learn more about the end users and their unique goals for the project – which can differ from that of the Owner. You can see how the instructors are going to use the space to keep students engaged in lessons, hear what type of office set up would be ideal for staff members, or what type of playground equipment community members wish to see for their children to play on in a new neighborhood park. If these user groups are happy in their new facilities and spaces, that will ultimately impact the overall satisfaction of the Owner.

The benefits of early user engagement:

Engaging with user groups early in the design process helps create project buy-in. Showing them interesting concept renderings or creating open forum meetings allows them to feel like they have had helped to influence the project and helps to generate excitement as well. Having these groups involved helps us be more effective designers as well. By hearing what will work and what won’t, we have the chance to make changes to the overall design before construction begins. This mitigation of issues in the field will save both time and money once construction begins due to less change orders.

The challenges of early user engagement:

Making the time for these user group meetings and implementation of their ideas has the potential to slow the whole project down. Depending on the timeline given to you by the Owner, there may not be any extra time built in for this process. There is also the challenge of navigating multiple opinions and directions of these user groups.

If the schedule or the Owner determines that user group meetings are not possible it is essential to build flexibility into the design where possible. This can be done using movable furniture, setting up separate collaboration and private spaces within the building, adaptable technology, or using retractable walls.

 

If we can help with your next project, get in touch!

Multipurpose Facilities (MPF’s)

Multipurpose Facilities (MPF’s) exist in many forms. As we consider the transformation of existing facilities into part-time athletic venues – ad hoc “field houses” – a plethora of sports can reasonably be considered. Indoor track and field, cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics, indoor soccer, baseball batting cages, tennis, and competition court activities (e.g. volleyball, basketball, and handball) should all be considered.

While each sport has its own unique requirements, there are 4 critical considerations shared by all:

1. Dimensions

  • Column Grid
  • Structural Height

2. Materials

  • Flooring

3. Lighting

  • Natural
  • Artificial

4. Amenities/Support

  • Restrooms/Locker Rooms
  • Food/Vending/Ticketing
  • Spectator Viewing
  • Parking

Multipurpose Facilities graphic

 

Dimensions

The structural grid, both layout and height, is the primary driver of sport appropriateness in existing facilities. Strictly governed court sizes, including overrun areas and required clearances, will likely determine both how many and what kind of courts can fit into any given building efficiently.

Material

Most purpose-built Multipurpose Facilities have multiple courts with a mix of both wood and synthetic floors. Wood floors are more preferred for sports like basketball and volleyball while synthetic floors are best for activities such as baseball, tennis, or even flag core. Soccer players, on the other hand, prefer natural grass, with turf as a distant second best. In an existing facility that will be a “sometimes” sporting venue, the selected sport will determine the surface. Whatever surface(s) is(are) selected, each appropriate surface needs to be easy to install in a foolproof fashion – so athletes are not injured. In addition, storage for each surface must be accommodated.

Light

Competitive sports all require consistent high-quality lighting, ideally with no glare, shadow, or hot spots. To that end, while natural light makes things nicer for spectators, it is often highly problematic to athletes. Solar studies of existing buildings can help discover lighting trouble spots.

Amenities/Support

Storage and some form of changing space or locker rooms is a necessary component of a successful MPF for the athletes. In addition, accommodations for spectators and the public is critical. This starts with parking, a ticketed entry, and some form of lobby space. Easy access to restrooms and concessions becomes almost as important as spectator viewing areas.

 

Ultimately, most large event facilities are capable of supporting athletics. Evaluation using the critical considerations above, can help determine what fits easily and what may require more extensive and expensive modifications. Of note, considerations for new facilities are very similar to those above, however they have the benefit of preplanning. With a new facility, flexibility can be enhanced by being purpose-built to accommodate the desired athletic functions from day one.