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Q&A Session with Bob Ross, Civil Designer

Fast Facts About Bob

Bob Ross

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Valparaiso, IN

Education: Trine University

Favorite Movie: The Sandlot

 

 

As Bob Ross, civil designer, designs parking lots and detention ponds for Owners, he daydreams of visiting every ballpark in the country. Learn more about him below!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in “The Region” and went to a small school. I started working on a farm in about fifth grade and continued as I grew up. Even today, I am not afraid of hard work and getting my hands dirty.

 

How did you land on civil engineering?

Growing up, I would build wooden cars in my grandpa’s shop. As I got older, that turned into building a go-kart, which prompted him to say, “You know, you would be a pretty good engineer.” All of the career aptitude tests I took in school agreed with my grandpa’s assessment, so since I liked math and design, I decided to pursue it. I started out in general engineering, deciding between mechanical and civil. I love to be outside, so I decided to become a civil so I could be outside on more jobsites.

Bob Ross and Grandpa

Bob and his engineering inspiration, his grandpa.

Do you have any side projects?

My fiancé—Jordan—and I bought a house in Decatur Township that we spend a lot of time fixing up.  So far, we have laid new carpet, painted, built a new closet, laid new hardwoods, installed new lights, did some landscaping, and now we are working on new fans. We still have a ways to go, but doing it together has been fun.

 

When you’re not designing and building things, what do you do?

I also love sports and play on multiple teams—currently baseball and basketball, but soon I will be adding in volleyball and softball. And who can forget my love of the Cubbies? I have split season tickets with a few people, so I will make it up to Chicago for a few games.

Bob Ross

Bob and his fiancé, Jordan

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

Jordan and I really enjoy Sodalis Nature Park in Hendricks County. They have some nice trails and a pond, and not a lot of people go to it. We enjoy taking the dogs out there for the day.

 

What is your dream vacation?

With the upcoming wedding in September 2020, Jordan and I are still trying to decide that. We are thinking about possibly honeymooning in Puerto Rico or Costa Rica. But honestly, my dream vacation? Getting to see all the baseball parks in the country—especially Fenway.

 

We’re an Approved IPL RCx Study Provider. What Does That Mean?

IPL logoSchmidt Associates is now an approved Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) Retro-Commissioning Study Provider. This status helps us enhance our energy service offerings to our Indianapolis-area clients by allowing us to execute retro-commissioning studies and lead clients through IPL’s energy incentive program.

Even if a building was designed to be energy efficient, as time goes on, systems can drift from original settings and performance can fluctuate. This can increase energy consumption and operating costs.

Retro-commissioning (RCx) is the process of returning a building to its original design intent. It involves studying the performance of HVAC, lighting, and building controls, then comparing this performance to the original design. An RCx study typically results in a list of low- or no-cost recommendations and adjustments that can be implemented to optimize building performance.

Taking these steps to improve the energy efficiency of your building can qualify you to receive incentives from IPL—up to 100% of implementation cost for qualifying measures.

Learn more about RCx and how our team of energy experts can save you money.

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.

Graduate Mechanical Engineer or Electrical Engineer

Schmidt Associates is looking for a current student and/or recent graduate from an accredited university to be a proactive member of the project team by providing Engineering support through all phases of a project. This role would help implement and practice Engineering industry standards within the firm’s design process. The ideal candidate has interest in the building sciences – particularly the architectural/engineering industry. The ideal candidate must to able to work with and meet deadlines with the ability to implement quality procedures

Responsibilities

  • Develop engineering construction documents including drawings and specifications
  • Coordinate design efforts across disciplines
  • Review engineering codes
  • Review contractor submittals
  • Assist and coordinate with construction administration

Experience/Education

  • Current student or recent graduate from a school of engineering – Bachelor or Master’s degree Mechanical, Electrical, or Energy
  • Experience with MS Excel highly desired (particularly Macros)
  • AutoDesk – REVIT – Building Information Modeling (BIM) highly desired

Apply on LinkedIn

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!

What We Love About Living in Indianapolis

Affordability, walkability, excitability—Indianapolis has something to offer everyone.

 

Indianapolis Skyline

Photo by Kent Rebman on Unsplash

 

It’s no longer a secret that Indianapolis is one of the country’s best places to live at any stage of life. From Gen Z college grads looking for new opportunities, to millennials starting families and buying their first homes, to retirees wanting to return to exciting downtown living, Indy is a versatile city.

What is it exactly that makes Indy a great place to be, day in and day out? Our staff has some opinions!

 

1. Never a dull moment

Libby Budack, Database Specialist

Has Lived in Indy: 17 years

Hometown: Martinsville, IN

The easy answer is low cost of living, but I like to think of it as “the biggest little city in the world.” There’s just so much to see and do in Indy, but you never have a long drive to get where you’re going. Whether it’s filling your belly with all things Indiana at the State Fair or cheering on the Indians at Victory Field, summers in Indy are the best! There’s always something going on at the Circle, and it’s a lot of fun to explore at lunch time!

Indianapolis - Victory Field

 

2. A city transformed

Kyle Miller, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 5 years

Hometown: Shelbyville, IN

I grew up close to Indy and have experienced it for my entire life. I worked for 12 years on Virginia Ave and 23 years on Mass Ave; two of the city’s most exciting areas. I have seen Indy transform over the past 35 years into one of the nicest, most livable cities in the country. It is amazing what Mass Ave has become from what is was when I first started at Schmidt in 1996. My wife and I love the city life, being around others who share that feeling, and the many options for dinner, entertainment, and things to do any night of the week.

 

3. Affordable place to raise your family

Ben Bain, Business Development Representative, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 22 years

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Indy is a great place to raise a family. It has all the attributes of a major city but isn’t too big. The cost of living is low, particularly for housing. We get all four seasons, and we have lots of parks. Plus, we can host major sporting events as well as any city. And of course, the Biergarten at the Rathskeller is one of my favorite spots!

Ben in Indianapolis

 

4. Friendly and comfortable

Caitlin Liskey, Architectural Intern

Has Lived in Indy: Two months

Hometown: Highland, IN

Just about every person I’ve met or run into here has been friendly, and with how much there is to do around the city, I don’t think it would be easy to get bored! It’s very pedestrian friendly, and as much as I’ve been reminded to be mindful while walking in a city, I’ve felt super comfortable in Indy.

 

5. Big city amenities without the headache

Natalie Moya, Marketing Communications Strategist

Has Lived in Indy: 8 years

Hometown: Munster, IN

When I first moved to Indy after graduating from college, I didn’t think it could live up to my first love and the city I grew up near: Chicago. What I discovered was that Indy has its own personality and charm that’s much more accessible. We have all the bragging rights that draw people in—employment opportunities in healthcare and our booming tech scene, world class restaurants and breweries, big-name concerts and sporting events, an art and culture scene—all without the chaos and intimidation of a bigger city. It’s all the fun, without the headache!

Natalie in Indy

 

6. Less traffic, more walkability

Lisa Gomperts, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 33 years

Hometown: Indianapolis

I love Indy because of the big town feel and amenities—our pro sports teams, the Indianapolis Zoo, museums, the Canal, our many monuments—without the traffic and congestion of most big cities. I love the walkability of downtown and the friendliness of the people.

 

7. Nearby outdoor adventures

Dave McDowell, Controls Engineer

Has Lived near Indy: 40 years

Hometown: Brownsburg, IN

Indianapolis is a great community with caring people and plenty of attractions and activities. It offers both city and country living that does not require a long commute. The nearby lakes are clean and abundant. Patoka Lake is my favorite and has the cleanest water for water skiing or fishing. The Turkey Run area is great for hiking, canoeing, and general outdoor activities. Beyond the amazing experience at the annual Indianapolis 500 race, many music and art festivals are hosted in the downtown area and concerts at Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville. The Indiana Convention Center draws in many people from around the country due to the frequent conventions and hosted events.

Dave in Indianapolis

 

We’ve talked a little about this great city before. Check that out while you’re at it!

 

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

 

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