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Designing Facilities for Wraparound Health Services

Wraparound healthcare services are exactly what they sound like—they encompass medical and non-medical services and resources that wrap around a person or family to best support their individual needs and improve their well-being in multiple areas of their life.

Wraparound healthcare programs are based on the idea of treating the whole person. There are many complex determinants of health and someone’s ability to seek or follow through with treatment, particularly for vulnerable populations. This can include financial, emotional, logistical, and other concerns. Wraparound services also account for the impact someone’s illness has on his or her mental health, family, or other chronic conditions.

For example, if your doctor prescribes a specific medication, do you have the ability to get to the pharmacy, pay for the prescription, understand and take it as prescribed, and return for a follow-up appointment to determine if the medication is working? Wraparound care aims to alleviate obstacles in the diagnosis and treatment process—like eliminating a trip to the pharmacy by including one right in the clinic—and providing multiple service and medical providers in one location. Comprehensive care like this has been shown to reduce ER visits and hospital readmissions and improve health outcomes.

One organization providing these types of services in Indianapolis is the Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IUSOC). The clinic is a partnership between several educational institutions and community organizations and operates out of the Neighborhood Fellowship Church on East 10th Street in Indianapolis. The clinic provides primary care-based services free of charge. IU School of Medicine, University of Indianapolis, and IUPUI students and other partners provide this care under the supervision of physicians and licensed providers. This includes medical, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, dental, social work, and legal services.

Clinic Renderings

Plan for Reception Area & Nurses’ Station at IUSOC

We worked with IUSOC to design a new space to better serve patients. Three primary principles guided our process:

1. Understand What Drives the Mission

Designing spaces that provide wraparound services is a unique challenge. Before you dive into the details of design, you must first understand the organization’s mission and vision. Why do they do this work?

The IUSOC, for example, “strives to close the healthcare gap in the community by coordinating a medical presence to address a wide variety of conditions.” Its focus is the uninsured and underserved, who historically are less likely to seek medical care for a host of reasons, including previous negative experiences with the healthcare system.

This mission drives how the clinic’s volunteers serve patients and the values the clinic space should embody. The team makes a concerted effort to create a welcoming environment where those who are nervous or skeptical to see a doctor feel comfortable. They also have an increased focus on education, helping patients understand their conditions, treatments, and how to navigate the healthcare system. This serves to empower patients to better manage their health.

2. Design for Full-Service Care

The idea of wraparound healthcare is to provide, essentially, a one-stop-shop for patients, making it more convenient and efficient for them to receive the different types of care they need.

To achieve this for IUSOC, we designed what we call “full-service” exam rooms. These rooms are large enough to accommodate a variety of medical equipment so that patients can get everything from an eye exam to a gynecological exam all in one place. If a patient comes in for one problem, and the practitioner finds another problem at the same time, this allows both to be addressed without the hassle of making a separate appointment or moving to a different wing of the clinic.

We were also cognizant of tangential services patients may require to achieve positive health outcomes, such as meeting with a social worker or getting legal support. These services are co-located in the clinic, allowing patients to address root causes and make long-term healthy lifestyle changes.

3. Focus on Access

Having a streamlined, efficient, full-service facility is fantastic. But if that facility isn’t easy to get to or isn’t welcoming to its patrons, it won’t be successful.

For IUSOC, we recommended a new space in Clifford Corners, a mixed-use building containing affordable house and retail we completed for another client, across the street from the church where it currently resides.

Clifford Corners

Clifford Corners

This location was a natural and convenient choice. It is right next to the existing clinic and in a neighborhood where many patients live. In addition, 10th Street is a major thoroughfare to and from downtown Indianapolis, with direct access to public transportation routes.

Overall, the space promises enhanced outcomes for the community—growing the foundational education of our young providers, creating community, and helping to build and maintain individuals and families—regardless of ability to pay.

 

The IUSOC is currently seeking funding to secure its new space and enhance its ability to care for patients. Learn how you can support this mission.

4 Tips for Adaptive Reuse in Higher Education

How to successfully expand your campus by repurposing old buildings

 

ISU Adaptive Reuse building

Former Post Office and Courthouse turned into the ISU Scott College of Business

 

Whether you have a building on campus that is sitting vacant, or you’re looking for a new space to expand into, adaptive reuse is an effective option for many higher education construction projects.

“Adaptive reuse” refers to giving an existing building—often a fairly old, historic one—a new purpose. It involves taking a space that used to serve one function, recycling it, and reusing it to serve a new function.

 

Why Reuse Old Buildings?

 

You can’t build new forever, which is why adaptive reuse is becoming increasingly popular—not only in higher education, but across all sectors. In fact, more than 90 percent of the future building inventory in the United States in 2025 already exists, according to the American Institute of Architecture. This means buildings we have today will need to be reused and repurposed in the future.

Adaptive reuse is a smart way to expand a campus for many reasons. It can reduce costs by using existing facilities instead of building brand new construction. It’s also the environmentally responsible choice, as it allows you to recycle structures and materials and avoid developing on new land.

If you’re repurposing a building already on your campus, adaptive reuse also helps preserve the heritage of your university or college by retaining original architecture. This ensures new spaces remain visually cohesive with the rest of campus.

Learn more about why adaptive reuse is important in today’s world. 

 

Successful Adaptive Reuse

 

While reusing old buildings has a lot of benefits, it also has its challenges. Unlike new construction, there will likely be unique hiccups that arise when opening up old buildings. If you go into the project for the right reasons and with the right mindset, the result will be a more meaningful space with historic charm.

Prepare for the process by keeping these keys to a successful adaptive reuse in mind:

1. Take advantage of the opportunities the building gives you.

The fun part of an adaptive reuse is figuring out how to reinvent the space for the needs of today. The obstacles of existing construction are what prompts innovative solutions. The building will give you natural opportunities to design creatively and think outside the box.

Can a leftover corner be turned into a study nook? Can an awkwardly placed stairwell be opened and made into an interesting new focal point? Take those opportunities to make the building memorable and unique to your campus.

2. Highlight historic character.

Not every old building is ornate and beautiful. If you are lucky enough to be adapting one that is, be careful not to erase those details that made the building what it was. As you revamp flow and function, look for characteristics you can preserve and blend with your new design.

When we transformed an old post office and courthouse into the Scott College of Business at Indiana State University, we reconfigured and adapted the building to the needs of a modern business program, but we retained the historic details that gave it character. We kept the post office’s old mailboxes, made the bank teller windows peer into the new classrooms, and rewired and fully restored the two-story federal courtroom to its original glory for large group functions.

ISU Adaptive Reuse

ISU Scott College of Business

3. Be honest about what you need.

Adaptive reuse requires you to reimagine what your space could be. This often means tossing out old ideas of what you think you need. It also means carefully integrating modern amenities and building systems that don’t compete with the historic architecture.

However, the ultimate goal is to create a space that functions well for your program. Be honest about what that means. Some spaces may not work for a specific function, no matter how hard you try. This doesn’t mean you have to demolish the building. You might just need to think outside its four walls.

When we transformed the old St. Vincent Hospital into the Ivy Tech Illinois Fall Creek Center, we knew retaining the recognizable patient wings and their facades would be important. They were iconic to the surrounding community. However, those wings weren’t an appropriate size for classrooms. Instead, we made them into administrative offices and built additions for the new learning spaces. We carefully juxtaposed the 1913 architecture with new modern lines, and a one-of-a-kind education facility was born.

Old St. Vincent turned into Ivy Tech Fall Creek

Before and After of Ivy Tech Illinois Fall Creek Center

4. Involve the right stakeholders.

One of the most important parts of successful adaptive reuse has nothing to do with the building. The project can only work if the right people are at the table.

Think about everyone who is tied to the space:

  • If the building was not previously part of one of your campuses, make sure you talk with the surrounding community. Understand what the building means to them, and what their hopes are for it.
  • Get insights from the building’s previous tenant/owner; they know it best.
  • If necessary, involve the Historic Preservation Office early.
  • Make sure key faculty and student groups have a say in the process.

When everyone understands the goal of rejuvenating an old space—and can help inform the end product—the result is a more integrated, effective design.

 

Want to know more about pursuing an adaptive reuse project? Contact our architects and engineers.

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.

When to Plan for Water Boiler and Chiller Upgrades

Hot Water Boilers

Aging Equipment – Hot Water Boilers

When it comes to updating or repairing the mechanical systems in your facility, timing is crucial. This is true whether you work in an office building, school, or hospital.

If a facility’s mechanical systems are functioning properly, they tend to be “out of sight, out of mind.” However, when they fail, it can cause serious issues for the operation of the facility and the people in it. That’s why it’s important to identify and plan for necessary maintenance to avoid any downtime and unnecessary disruptions.

Water Chiller and Boiler Replacement Timing

Water boilers for heating and chillers for air conditioning are two of the most common systems that fall victim to poor planning. Here’s an example I see frequently:

Let’s say you have an older water chiller that’s had regular maintenance but is nearing the end of its life. It’s early spring, and your maintenance staff informs you that the chiller won’t start up, but it’s old enough that the manufacturer no longer has available parts for repairs. So, you call your most trusted engineering partner to select a new chiller and have drawings prepared for a public or private bid project.

Your engineering partner shares the following timeline with you:

  1. Design of the chiller replacement: 4-6 weeks
  2. Bidding: 4-6 weeks
  3. Signing of contracts
  4. Delivery lead time for the chiller: 18 weeks

This means your new chiller won’t be up and running until fall. You will have spent the entire summer working on this project, and by the time it’s completed, chiller season will be over.

The same applies to a heating water boiler system. Although the lead time on boilers is typically less than chillers, if you don’t identify the need for a new boiler until it starts to get cold outside, you may have to limp through the winter on less heating capacity. Even worse, you may have to arrange for temporary heating in your facility, which can be very expensive.

Avoid Equipment Failure

The bottom line: don’t wait until your equipment fails to replace it. For heating and cooling equipment, plan to have your older boilers replaced in the summer and older chillers replaced in the winter. This will ensure the equipment is off-line and not critical to your daily operations during replacement.

Planning ahead for mechanical system upgrades will save you money and headaches in the long run. If you have questions or want to learn more about how we can help, give us a call!

Community Perspective: Corrie Meyer on Urban Revitalization

Corrie Meyer

Corrie Meyer, AICP, PLA, is an entrepreneur working in the urban environment as a certified Urban Planner and licensed Landscape Architect. As President and CEO of Innovative Planning, a central Indiana strategic planning firm, she provides visionary and adaptive leadership by delivering creative site layouts, pro-formas, and development solutions for mixed-use projects and communities. Her strength is overseeing development strategies that drive transformative change. Corrie is driven to inspire and support others to make a positive change in their environment by thinking through significant goals that influence the course of time.

 

You have done a lot of work in redevelopment. What do you see as the keys to revitalizing urban areas?

First is strong leadership. We need strong leadership in our cities and towns to develop a strong vision and to put together a team who can get things done. This could be mayors, or this could be engaged community or business leaders.

Vision is also important. The vision needs to guide the community. The right parties need to be a part of the process; you don’t want it to occur in a bubble. In some communities, the core group is elected officials and staff who are framing the vision. In other communities, the vision develops more organically through a grassroots effort. Having the right people involved ensures there is a strong group who serve as the founders of the idea and hold people accountable for executing it.

 

What role do anchor institutions have in the urban revitalization process?

Anchor institutions have a lot of influence. Their participation often leads to a stronger vision or stronger ideas. Any time you have the opportunity to collaborate, that makes for a project with long-term viability.

Anchor institutions might be able to bring along a potential tenant for a new building, or they may want to do an expansion in the area themselves. They may also bring financial resources or volunteers to get something done.

 

Downtown on Mass Ave in particular, what do you see as the important anchor institutions and influences on the revitalization of this area over the past few decades?

The Athenaeum is definitely an anchor institution here, as well as Riley Area Development Corporation and Mass Ave Merchants Association.

These three organizations and the people who work for them have dedicated their careers to creating a thriving Mass Ave area. They live and breathe it. The Athenaeum has brought people to Mass Ave—not for decades, but for centuries. It is the sole institution that kept Mass Ave alive and kept it from becoming another vacant, old commercial block up against the interstate. People will always know, remember, and enjoy the Athenaeum.

I’d also say there are some key individuals, people like Wayne Schmidt in fact, who invested early and often in their office’s neighborhood. Wayne has been persistent in making sure this cultural district is strong, which comes back to that strong leadership that is necessary to revitalize an area.

 

What are the biggest challenges that often come with redevelopment?

A challenge of redevelopment is financial feasibility. These urban renewal areas want to be dense. Today’s demand on mobility and independent travel, each of us having our own car, that is a major demand on the feasibility of redevelopment. Finding the available parking is difficult and costly. Making sure there are transportation options is key to making redevelopment more feasible.

It’s also important to facilitate equal opportunity for businesses and residents to thrive. We need to focus on mixed use, mixed income, mixed opportunity—all of those things help create diverse redevelopment. Sometimes developers are solely focused on bringing their product to a neighborhood, and it fits their mission and they can usually mold it into the community vision. The equitable distribution of opportunities isn’t just for the developer or the people holding the vision. It’s for the entire city.

Something else you don’t want to ignore is the preservation of culture. Urban renewal areas are areas that have been identified as needing a “refresh.” But it’s important you still preserve the culture of the area. Culture is long lasting; it stands the test of time. Buildings come and go and get new faces and new users. The culture of a space that everyone in the area feeds off is what makes a space unique.

 

What excites you most about where Central Indiana urban development is headed?

We have a strong creative class. We are attracting a new generation to Indianapolis, which is going to continue the momentum of strong investment in Central Indiana.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is continuing to shop and bring new jobs back to Central Indiana. That is exciting because that will bring more people, more opportunity, and more investment in our communities. Visit Indy also does an amazing job of promoting Indianapolis and bringing conventions here. If we can provide more opportunities to millennials and Gen Z, we will continue to be a strong economic hub of the Midwest.

While we don’t have iconic landscapes, the White River Master Plan will encourage interaction with the river and strengthen it as an asset. The airport is amazing and continues to make it easy for people to come in and out of Indianapolis. It all feeds together to create a strong metropolitan area, regardless of natural features.

 

Is there a specific project you’re looking forward to?

The next “it” spot will be Eleven Park, the soccer stadium development. It will serve as a catalyst for transformational development. It is unique over other projects because it will be the sole development that brings entertainment, workplace environment, residential, hotel, retail and restaurants all together. Being like a miniature city, and I think it is the stand-out project for this decade.

Schmidt Associates Gains 9 Spots on List of Top 300 Architecture Firms

Schmidt Associates is proud to be named to Architectural Record’s 2019 Top 300 list. The firm earned the 195th spot on this year’s list, moving up nine spots from last year.

The annual national list, compiled by Architectural Record’s sister publication Engineering News-Record, ranks companies by their architectural revenue from the prior year, as reported by firms that choose to participate.

In 2018, Schmidt experienced significant growth not only in terms of revenue, but also in staff size, seeing a 12-percent increase in total employees.

See below for a sneak peek at a few of the significant projects we started in 2018 (all still underway).

Hammond Middle High School

Location: Hammond, IN
Project: Renovation and New Construction
Cost: $80M

 

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Project: New Construction
Cost: $160M

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

City of Indianapolis Consolidated Civil and Criminal Courthouse

 

North Montgomery Elementary School

Location: Crawfordsville, IN
Project: Renovation
Cost: $30 million

North Montgomery - Main Entry

North Montgomery – Main Entry

North Montgomery - Media Center

North Montgomery – Media Center

Mass Ave Isn’t What It Used to Be: Urban Revitalization in Indianapolis

Years of redevelopment and steadfast anchor institutions are to thank for the Mass Ave we know and love.

 

Did you know that MacNiven’s used to be a biker bar? Maybe you noticed the original “Sears, Roebuck and Company” still etched into the west side of Needler’s Fresh Market at the corner of Alabama and Vermont Streets. Even the buildings that make up the Schmidt Associates’ office have been everything from a paint and wallpaper store to a coffee shop and restaurant.

Massachusetts Avenue—affectionately called Mass Ave or the Avenue by most—has been in constant transformation. New restaurants seem to pop up daily, and recent (and ongoing) new construction is making more room for apartments, offices and entertainment options.

This intimate downtown stretch didn’t always look the way it does now. In fact, it was once considered somewhat of a “red light district,” a seedy stretch you wouldn’t want to take selfies in front of.

Over the past four decades or so, the landscape of this downtown thoroughfare has changed dramatically, making it a prime example of urban revitalization. After years of redevelopment, the Mass Ave neighborhood eventually became the cultural hub that it is today.

 

A Brief History of Mass Ave

The footprint of Indianapolis was designed by Alexander Ralston (yes, Ralston’s DraftHouse is named after him), who also laid out the streets of Washington, D.C.

Like D.C., Indianapolis has several diagonal roads that sprout out from Monument Circle. Mass Ave is one of them, making it—at one time—a major artery connecting the commercial downtown and residential outskirts of the city.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1906

Mass Ave circa 1906 (Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Between about 1940 and 1960, a mass migration from cities to suburbs occurred across the U.S. Approximately 40 million people abandoned the hustle and bustle of downtowns in favor of quiet suburban streets. These suburbs started to become self-contained, with their own shops, schools, and police departments. Indianapolis was no exception.

The construction of the interstate, which cut directly through Mass Ave, in the 1970s fueled this exodus of city dwellers, giving them an easy way to travel back downtown when necessary.

By the late 1970s, when Schmidt Associates moved into the Hammond Block at 301 Massachusetts Ave., the view down the Avenue was bleak. There were many boarded up buildings, and the open businesses were far from the trendy boutiques and restaurants we see now.

Mass Ave Revitalization 1970s

Mass Ave Circa 1970s

With our offices perched at the starting point of the street, our firm had a unique position and ability to take part in the revitalization of Mass Ave. We’ve made our humble mark along the Avenue over the years—from our work on the Stout’s Shoes building in the 1980s, to our office’s move to our current home at 415 Massachusetts Ave. (right image above), to the completion of the new Penrose on Mass building in 2018. And both our leadership and staff have been committed to this revitalization through active participation with local non-profits and community engagement.

No single person or organization could have made this significant transformation. A powerful combination of support from community and economic development organizations, private businesses, and federal tax credits for revitalization of historic buildings helped bring new life to Mass Ave.

However, none of these efforts would have been sustainable without another important player: the anchor institution.

 

Anchor Institutions Leading the Charge

An anchor institution is a place that holds influence in a city or other geographic area. It quite literally “anchors” the area by helping to provide a point of stability that attracts residents and other businesses.

Often, we think of a university, the headquarters of a major corporation, a professional sports stadium, or a hospital as an anchor institution in a city. These companies give meaning to an area, providing jobs and spurring new housing developments, commercial business, and more. Each neighborhood within a city can have its own, smaller anchors, as well.

Mass Ave would not be the place it is today without the anchor institutions that established it as a destination neighborhood in Indianapolis. Here are a few we have to thank:

 

The Athenaeum

Mass Ave Revitalization 1910

Athenaeum Circa 1910 (Photo Courtesy of the Athenaeum Foundation)

The Athenaeum was designed by Bernard Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut’s grandfather) and was built in phases between 1893 and 1898. It was envisioned as a “house of culture for the mind and body,” according to the Athenaeum Foundation. True to that purpose, it has played host to countless theater productions, public speeches, and other community gatherings and celebrations.

The building was also once home to the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union and held gymnastics trainings. This made it a perfect fit for the YMCA, which moved in in 1992. And of course, the Rathskeller, Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant still in operation, opened in the Athenaeum’s basement in 1894.

Today, the Athenaeum building remains a cultural focal point. It has a coffee shop with a large working/meeting space, the Rathskeller beer garden and outdoor concert venue, and various office and performance spaces for art and education organizations.

 

Circle City Industrial Complex

Mass Ave Revitalization 1930s

Schwitzer Cummins Co., Circa 1930s (Photo Courtesy of Circle City Industrial Complex)

Built in the early 1920s, the building that is now the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC) provides an anchor further northeast on Mass Ave. It was originally home to the Schwitzer Cummins Corporation automotive plant. The plant was part of the booming auto industry in Indianapolis and across the country.

While the interstate now divides Mass Ave just before you get to CCIC, the campus remains an anchor in the area, known as the Mass Ave Industrial Corridor. CCIC is currently being redeveloped, in large part due to efforts of the Riley Area Redevelopment Corporation, which is also responsible for much of the public art along Mass Ave, as well as affordable housing and other economic development efforts. The former factory building is now home to a variety of artisans and makers, non-profits, and other businesses.

 

The Murat

Mass Ave Revitalization 1900s

Murat Theatre Circa 1900s (Photo Courtesy of the Murat Shriners)

Now named Old National Centre, the Murat Theatre was completed in 1910 by a group called the Murat Shriners. The Shriners were members of a secret society called the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The temple served as a ceremony and meeting place for decades and is still under ownership of the Shriners.

In 1995, Live Nation became a tenant of the theater, bringing big-name live shows and concerts to Mass Ave. This was, and continues to be, a significant driver in attracting new restaurants and bars to satisfy event-goers before and after shows.

 

The Future on Mass Ave

It has taken decades for development on Mass Ave to elevate to its current state. Every decade since the late 1970s has brought about its own hallmark projects along the Avenue.

Today, Mass Ave has something of significance on almost every block. And there’s more to come, like the in-progress Bottleworks building, which is an adaptive reuse of the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. The project includes the Avenue’s first hotel, plus unique retail and gathering spaces, which will bring more activity to the northeast end of the street.

While most large parcels of land are now occupied, there are some gaps to fill in and opportunities to build north and south of the strip. As development continues, it’s important that we remember to preserve the organic and intimate character of Mass Ave.

When you walk down the street, you see pockets of new construction, but you mostly see a lot of old buildings—a blend of architectural styles from over the years, most no more than five or six stories tall. Those strong, old bones are still here, but they’ve been given new life and purpose. That is what revitalization is all about.

Q&A Session with Steve Alspaugh

Fast Facts about Steve Alspaugh

Steve Alspaugh, AIA, LEED AP

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 cityit 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.

Steve Alspaugh Organ Pipes

Organ pipe piece from Goshen College Music Center

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.

Steve Alspaugh family

Steve, Ethan, and Linda Alspaugh

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle MillerSteve SchaecherMyrisha Colston Drew Morgan, Steve SpanglerBill Gruen, Cindy McLoed, and Robin Leising

What I Learned at My First NeoCon

NeoCon Wall Quote

 

Ask any commercial interior designer what the biggest industry event of the year is, and they’ll have the same answer – NeoCon. In its 51st year, NeoCon is considered the most important annual event for the commercial design industry that influences the trends and aesthetics of the built environment. This three-day extravaganza brings the world’s leading manufacturers, dealers, architects, and design professionals together at the historic ­– and massive – Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.  

 

Merchandise Mart at NeoCon

Merchandise Mart – Photo Courtesy of NeoCon

 

Fun fact: The Mart is so large it has its very own zip code.

This year marked my first time attending NeoCon. Although slightly overwhelming at first, due to the sheer size of The Mart and the staggering number of people, it was a phenomenal experience.

As far as interior design trends are concerned, I would summarize this year’s NeoCon showing in three words: color, pattern and comfort.

 

1. Color

Across the board, we saw an expansion in color palettes for flooring, wall coverings, textiles, and furniture. Blush, or dare I say mauve, was among the most popular colors introduced into new collections. Usually, this color was paired with a darker green to contrast.

In furniture, we saw color introduced in several ways, but the most interesting and trendy method was colored wood. Manufacturers offered this wood in an array of hues, using an opaque stain that allowed the natural grain and texture of the wood to show through to make for stunning pieces.

 

NeoCon - Color

2. Pattern

New textiles are always exciting to see, and this year there was an abundance of large-scale, geometric patterns, and stripes and plaids made a comeback. Blush, mustard yellow, and hunter green were among the most prominent colors in the new styles. Heavy textures like raised and embossed processed were common in the textile showrooms. Privacy curtains were also given new life with fresh patterns and color palettes.

We also saw a distinct flooring trend incorporating abstract, artistic patterns (think paint splatters and brush strokes), as well as the geometrics we saw elsewhere. Color palettes included neutral on neutral with an emphasis on texture, solids offered in nearly every color of the rainbow, and neutrals with pops of bright colors.

 

NeoCon - Pattern

3. Comfort

There was also a lot of emphasis on ergonomics and comfort in furniture design. Even lounge furniture was slightly increased in scale to offer extra cushion and a stronger resemblance to residential furniture.

My favorite showroom hands-down was Hightower. Hightower specializes in the manufacturing of furniture, and their showroom emphasized comfort and high style. They exhibited fully furnished settings ranging from lounge, small meeting areas, café-style seating, private nooks, and bar seating, utilizing a mostly neutral and pastel color palette.

 

NeoCon - Hightower

 

I think it’s safe to say our group of interior designers had a great time in the Merchandise Mart and can’t wait for NeoCon 2020!

 

NeoCon Group

 

If you are interested in seeing how we can implement some of these trends into your designs, reach out to us.