Posts

6 Ways to Reuse and Recycle in Your Workplace

At Schmidt Associates, sustainability is something we strive for in each architecture and engineering project we do. We work with clients to implement designs that are energy efficient, use renewable energy sources, gain LEED certification if desired, or even reuse existing structures and materials when possible.

This focus on sustainability is, in part, why we started a company-wide recycling program—which, as our company’s sustainability advocate, I spearhead.

Reducing your organization’s carbon footprint doesn’t have to be a major undertaking or require a robust recycling budget. There are a lot of small efforts we make every day in our office that are easy to implement.

If you’re looking to ramp up your office recycling efforts, this list is a great place to start.

1. Put recycling bins next to every printer.

How many times have you accidentally printed 20 copies of a report instead of 2? By weight, paper and cardboard are the largest potential recycling targets in an office environment. Even if your company has largely gone digital to reduce your paper consumption, remember to recycle the paper you do use.

At Schmidt Associates, we have a paper recycling bin under every employee’s desk. Not there yet? Start by putting one next to every printer or in every major work area. Also consider adjusting your default print settings to print double-sided to reduce paper waste.

 

2. Properly dispose of dead batteries.

The heavy metals and corrosive materials used to make batteries are toxic and harmful to the environment. From the AAA alkaline batteries in your computer mouse to the button cell battery in your watch, most batteries are recyclable.

Start with the most common type of battery used in your office, likely alkaline. Make a bin available to employees to collect the batteries, and take them to be recycled as needed. Be sure to clearly label bins, as different types of batteries may need to be recycled separately.

 

3. Provide reusable utensils for lunch.

Even disposable plates and cups made from recycled material cannot be re-recycled once used. Plus, they require a lot of energy to manufacture. Stock your office break room or kitchen with reusable silverware, plates, and coffee mugs to encourage employees to ditch disposable products.

Be sure to remind your staff to return these items when they’re finished (I’m known to host fork-return drives at our office). If you don’t have a dishwasher on site,  provide dish soap and a sponge for cleaning.

 

4. Use aluminum cans to give back to your community.

Encourage employees to recycle their soda, energy drink, and cold-pressed coffee cans by collecting and turning them in for cash. At the end of the year, use the deposit money you receive to make a donation to a local charity your team cares about or to do some other good deed. You can even organize a neighborhood cleanup to boost your collection efforts. This not only improves your company’s carbon footprint, it also allows you to reinvest in your community.

How much you’ll get for your cans varies depending on where you live and where you take your collection. States with deposit laws (like Michigan, Iowa, California, and a handful of others) mandate a standard rate per can. States without such laws (like Indiana) don’t regulate the deposit rate. Recycling plants that accept cans in these states will typically pay per pound of aluminum, and rates vary by plant and by the day. It may be a relatively slow earn, but with consistency and some creative aluminum-hunting, it can definitely pay off.

 

5. Host an electronics recycling drive.

As a company, you should be appropriately recycling any old or broken electronics. But your employees may be stashing their defunct computers, keyboards, or cell phones in the garage because they have no idea what else to do with them. Organize an electronics recycling drive and dispose of these devices for your staff. It’ll be a chore they’ll thank you for!

 

6. Reduce food waste.

Apples, bananas, and oranges aren’t just great afternoon snacks, their cores and peels are also compostable! Reduce office food waste by giving employees somewhere to chuck their biodegradable food scraps. You can create an office compost program that feeds your rooftop garden, supports a local community garden, or provides fertilizer for employees’ own landscaping efforts.

Be sure to give staff clear guidelines on what can and cannot be composted. Coffee grounds and paper coffee filters are a great compost resource, for example. They can also help keep the office cleaner by keeping coffee drippings out of the trash.

Also consider reusing bulk package food containers from client luncheons or other events to allow employees to store leftovers rather than throw them away.

 

The Key to Successful Recycling

Even with the best of intentions, if you don’t remain consistent and communicate how to recycle properly, your program could become a flop. Getting buy-in from your staff and clearly expressing your goals is key to making your efforts effective.

I recommend designating a recycling advocate who is a familiar, consistent face for staff to go to with questions and who can provide gentle reminders about the program. It’s important that this person values the goal at hand, so seek out a volunteer.

Also make sure you know the regulations and resources available in your community to make the most of your efforts. For information on where to recycle various items, check your county or town’s website. You can also use a search tool like Recycle Nation or Earth911 to find recycling locations for almost anything. Be aware that recycling companies sometimes change the materials they accept based on the market. Stay up-to-date on what they’ll take, and if one company says no, keep looking!

 

Have questions or need more ideas? Use our Contact form to let me know.

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.

Q&A Session with Jessica Suttle, Graduate Landscape Architect

Fast Facts About Jessica

Discipline: Landscape Architecture

Hometown: Centerville, OH

Education: The Ohio State University, Ball State University

Podcast Currently Listening to: The Model Health Show

 

 

She got married on a mountain in Costa Rica, and her itch to travel takes her far and wide. It’s no surprise that Graduate Landscape Architect Jessica Suttle’s love for beautiful places has translated into her work in landscape and site design.

What sparked your love for landscape architecture?

In college, I was unsure of what direction I wanted to take or what I wanted to do as a career. I started out exploring education classes, marine biology classes, and accounting classes but never really felt that I loved any of them. I always enjoyed math and problem solving growing up, which eventually led me to architecture. I took a variety of design, architecture, and engineering classes the following year in college. It wasn’t until one of my early level classes when I was offered extra credit to attend a career fair that I spoke with a firm about golf course design and resort design. I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do. I took a nine-month internship in Austin, Texas, that really started to broadened my horizon on the type of projects landscape architects work on and ended up loving it.

What do you do in your free time?

My husband, Steve, and I love to travel. We spend most of our free time away exploring, but if we are not traveling, we are most likely at a concert, music festival, or brewery somewhere with our friends and family. Our first “date” was a four-day music festival in Okeechobee, Florida, where I got a drum stick from the band Mumford and Sons. Since that day, I have caught (or asked for) eight other drum sticks from some of our favorite bands.

I also work at a local brewery, Fountain Square Brewery, on the weekends which helps support our expensive hobbies. I’m even about to brew my first beer, a peach Berliner Weisse, which is a kettle sour.

Jessica and her husband Steve

 

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

I’ve been to 19 countries in my lifetime. Our most recent trip, prior to our wedding in Costa Rica, was a 2.5-week cruise in the western Mediterranean. We left from Rome, Italy, and ended in Barcelona, Spain, and visited a few cities in Italy, Sicily, Malta, Spain, and France in between! It was so surreal seeing many of the historic buildings and landscapes I studied in college. Steve and I got our engagement pictures done in Rome at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. And Barcelona was one of our favorite cities from the trip because of Antoni Gaudi’s work.

Jessica and Steve in Rome

 

Tell us about the wedding!

Steve and I got married in Costa Rica this past May in a Greek amphitheater on a mountain overlooking the ocean. I visited Costa Rica before but found this specific resort on Pinterest and loved it. I originally wanted to elope, but when Steve asked my parents for permission, they made him promise we wouldn’t. Costa Rica it was!

Jessica and Steve’s wedding in Costa Rica

 

Do you have any unique souvenirs from your travels?

I get a rock from all the volcanoes we go to.

What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation destination changes often because there are so many places we haven’t been yet. Next year, our goal is either Faroe Islands or a backpacking/camping trip in Banff National Park, Canada. Fiji has also always been at the top of my bucket list too, although being in a plane that long scares me. Ironically, I’m scared to death of flying. You probably don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?

I haven’t had a sip of soda in more than 20 years! I ran track in high school and was told by the coaches that giving up soda would decrease my time by a few seconds. I always saw this more as a challenge to see if I could go without, but a small part of me also wanted to see if the coaches were correct. I don’t think it actually helped me improve my time, but I’m hopeful the decision is benefiting me now.

Choosing a Construction Delivery Method for K-12 Building Projects

Construction Administrators

If you’re starting your first building or renovation project in your district—or even your first project in a long time—there can be a hefty learning curve. The processes are nuanced, there are endless acronyms and industry jargon, and many different people and organizations are involved.

For even the savviest of school administrators, it can be a very complicated and high-pressure process, especially when using public funds. One of the most important, and potentially difficult, decisions you’ll need to make during your project is which method of construction delivery to use.

 

What is Construction Delivery?

“Construction delivery” refers to the way in which the construction process is managed and services rendered in order to complete the project. There are a variety of construction delivery methods to choose from, and the one you decide on will determine the steps in the process and your role throughout.

In K-12 school construction projects, Owners typically use one of three common construction delivery methods: Construction Manager as Adviser (CMa), Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc), and Design-Bid-Build (DBB) without a construction manager.

There are several additional construction delivery methods, but we’ll focus on these three most common. To learn about other construction delivery methods, check out our e-magazine.

Role of a Construction Manager

Two of the three construction delivery methods we’ll discuss involve a construction manager (CM). The CM is hired by the project Owner (you) to be the point person who organizes and oversees all aspects of a construction project. This includes:

  • Managing the project schedule, including design and construction
  • Managing the project budget, including preparing cost estimates during the design process
  • Organizing and administering the bidding process
  • Serving as the primary point of communication and a liaison between contractors and the architecture/engineering (A/E) firm(s) that designed the building
  • Ensuring contractors construct the building according to the exact specifications of the design drawings
  • Working with the A/E to review construction work for quality assurance

A CM is essentially a middle man between all major players in the process. They work on behalf of the Owner and are deeply involved in the day-to-day aspects of construction.

When deciding if you need a CM, carefully consider who on your staff would manage the project otherwise. Does this person have recent experience managing complex construction projects and their many details and nuances? Does this person have excellent communication, organization, and project management skills? Does this person have the necessary knowledge of various disciplines involved, including electrical, mechanical, HVAC, carpentry, etc., to be able to oversee such work? And perhaps most importantly, does this person have the time available to manage the construction process in addition to his/her regular duties?

 

Construction Manager as Adviser (CMa)

 

What is it?

In this construction delivery method, the CMa performs all functions described above. While the CMa organizes the bidding process and manages the construction process, the Owner contracts directly with the contractors. Typically, the Owner will hold contracts with five to 10 different contractors chosen to complete the construction.

When do you choose it?

CMa is often used for larger, more complex projects—typically over $5 million. A CMa is paid a fee separate from the construction costs. This is typically 4-8% of the total construction cost. The Owner is essentially paying for a trusted adviser to guide them through the project.

What is your role as the Owner?

As the Owner in the CMa method, you hold the contracts with each contractor. This gives you control over the contractors, as well as the CMa and A/E. It also means you assume the risk associated with those contractual relationships.


Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc)

 

What is it?

In this method, also known as Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR), the CMc performs all functions described above. However, instead of the contractors being contracted with the Owner, they are contracted with the CMc. The CMc is paid a fee for pre-construction services, as well as a management fee, typically 4-8% of the total construction cost. In CMc, a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the cost of construction can also be used.

This method of construction delivery has been used on privately funded projects in Indiana for many years. Recently, Indiana law changed to permit CMc on publicly funded projects, including public schools. There are specific provisions that must be followed when using CMc.

When do you choose it?

Like the CMa method, CMc allows the Owner to step out of the day-to-day of the construction process by entrusting an experienced party to coordinate and oversee the work. The CMc method transfers the contractual authority and risk to the CMc. This is attractive to many Owners. CMc is often used on projects that require multiple phases of construction, have tight schedules, or have special site constraints.

What is your role as the Owner?

CMc allows you to step back further from the construction process, as you do not hold the contracts with the contractors. You are only contracted with the CMc and A/E. In this method, it’s important to establish the process in which construction costs are determined as part of the selection of the CMc.

 

Design-Bid-Build (DBB) without a CM

 

What is it?

DBB is the most traditional method of construction delivery. “Design-Bid-Build” describes the sequence of the project: the design is completed; the construction work is competitively bid by contractors; and the lowest, most responsive bidder is chosen. Usually, DBB involves the Owner contracting with one prime contractor—typically a general contractor, or GC—who is responsible for managing all construction activities.

The A/E prepares the design, administers the bidding process, and monitors the construction through its construction administration services. The A/E is not considered the CM, however, and does not have all of the same responsibilities.

When do you choose it?

Not all projects warrant a CM. Smaller, simpler, lower-budget projects do not require pre-construction services, phasing of construction, or as much paperwork and management as larger projects do. In these cases, a GC can typically get the job done.

DBB is a good option for projects less than $5 million. It is also good for projects that have a relatively straightforward timeline—for example, if work can be completed during summer break—or if the project involves a new building separate from an existing school.

What is your role as the Owner?

The GC is responsible for coordination and communication of construction activities throughout the process. They hold the contracts with sub-contractors and are responsible for the management of cost and schedule. As the Owner, you are responsible for providing the GC with information and decisions in a timely manner to keep the schedule on track. Owners sometimes supplement this by hiring a Clerk of the Works (CoW) or adding Extended Services from their A/E firm.

 

When to Use Extended Services

As a full-service A/E firm, Schmidt Associates provides Owners with Extended Services when needed. Extended Services can include a host of specific tasks during the construction process that typically fall under a CM’s responsibilities. The A/E firm can step in to fill any of these gaps if the Owner deems it necessary.

We recommend utilizing Extended Services when you or your staff do not have the experience or the capacity to oversee certain aspects of the construction process not covered by your GC in a DBB project or other construction delivery method.

The basic construction administration service our firm provides includes A/E representation at the construction site an average of one day a week. Adding Extended Services allows you to customize services to receive a higher level of site presence. This could be anywhere from one additional day a week to full-time on site. This gives you a proactive presence from the A/E to address contractor issues and review the quality of the work as it’s completed.

 

Questions? Check out our e-magazine for more details, or contact us to connect with our construction administration professionals.

 

How to Avoid Negative Impacts of School Construction Projects on Students

Students Studying

PART 1 IN A SERIES

Proper planning is critical to avoid unintended consequences of school construction for those who matter most—students.

Initiating a new school build or a significant renovation can be a lengthy process. Getting the project approved, perhaps passing a referendum, and determining the vision for your new or updated facilities is a lot of work.

This is ultimately all for the good of the students—to ensure their health and safety, improve their ability to learn, and give them tools for success. Even with good intentions, however, there can be unintended consequences of school construction projects that aren’t in the best interest of the kids.

That’s why it’s critical to put proper planning and consideration into every aspect of the project before a shovel ever hits the ground.

We’ve been designing K-12 schools for roughly 40 years, and we’ve seen it all. Here are a few key reminders we give to administrators to prevent negative impacts of school construction projects on students.

1. Don’t eliminate spaces that help to educate the whole child.

When budgets get tight, you may be tempted to cut some of the more non-traditional spaces in the school. These seem like luxuries. We need an adequate cafeteria; we don’t need “nooks” or green spaces.

When we talk about educating the whole child—creating an environment and providing opportunities that ensure every single child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—this includes providing spaces that cater to the needs of every personality type and learning style.

In the planning and design process, be sure to address dedicated places for students to:

  • Take a quiet break
  • Discover their individual strengths or talents
  • Safely engage in physical activities
  • Utilize technology to its fullest potential

Also ensure students will be able to comfortably move throughout the school. For example, hallways should be large enough to accommodate busy passing periods and still have room for students to pull to the side to tie a shoe.

2. Make sure learning environments are the right size.

When you are trying to be efficient with dollars and square feet, there is a temptation to squeeze students into classrooms that are too small.

You must be realistic about the number of students that will—and should—be in each classroom, as well as how the classroom will be used and the subjects and types of activities that will be taught. Work closely with your design team to understand both anticipated class size (now and in the future) and the room’s purpose to create an adequate space for learning.

For example, science labs and other hands-on environments will have different space requirements than other types of rooms. Using classrooms and other spaces for their intended purpose is important for the success of your programming. It’s also why flexible classroom styles that can be adapted for the class at hand are preferred.

3. Be mindful of increased school security measures.

School security is top of mind for every parent, teacher, and administrator—as it should be. However, it shouldn’t have to be top of mind for students.

Part of what helps students be successful is a positive, welcoming, secure environment. In fact, it’s a biological requirement. The basic need of safety must be met before a child’s brain can focus on learning and building new connections. Obtrusive security measures can create the opposite effect, making students feel stressed about potential dangers.

Safety should be ingrained in the design of the facility so that it feels natural. There are many ways this can be achieved, such as creating clear lines of site throughout the building, choosing an appropriate security system, implementing sufficient lighting, and properly managing building access points.

4. Minimize distractions and risk during the construction process.

If you are renovating your current space, students and teachers will likely still be using portions of the facility. This means they may be near the construction work and all of the distractions that come along with it.

Make special effort to minimize the effects of the construction process on kids to maintain as much normalcy as possible, especially if standardized testing or other critical activities are occurring at the same time.

There are several primary areas to consider:

  • Wayfinding and Procedures – Make sure students (and their parents) are clear on room changes and other new procedures necessary during construction, and post adequate signage throughout the school to remind them. Install highly visible signs and implement barriers around construction zones to prevent students from entering these potentially dangerous areas and to guide them through route changes while their normal facilities are unavailable.
  • Noise – Loud noises during construction are unavoidable, and they can substantially interfere with students’ ability to concentrate, especially for those with sensory challenges. Noise can be quieted to a certain degree with construction protocols, such as installing temporary sound-absorbing barriers and using newer equipment that operates more quietly. Also try to schedule as much time away from noisy areas as possible for all groups of students (e.g. allow for classes to rotate through outdoor spaces or other places that are away from any construction).
  • Environmental Disturbances – Construction can also result in other environmental disturbances, such as smells and dust. Make sure teachers and parents understand that the construction team takes precautions to mitigate these factors and ensure no harmful impacts. If students express concerns about these disturbances, raise them with the contractor, who can help.

Planning the timeline and phases of the construction process appropriately is also key to avoiding or diminishing many of these disruptions. Some of the most intense or disruptive portions of the build should be scheduled during school breaks or outside of school hours when possible.

Learn More

Students aren’t the only ones to consider during school construction projects. There can be many unintended consequences for teachers, as well. Read part 2 in this series to learn more.

Q&A Session with Eric Wolf, Field Manager

Fast Facts About Eric

Discipline: Construction Administration

Hometown: Logansport, IN

Education: Purdue University

Who He’d Pick to Play Himself in a Movie: Robert Redford

 

 

From a construction site to a campground, Eric Wolf, construction delivery field manager, feels most at home outside and surrounded by nature.

What drew you to engineering and construction?

Construction is in my blood. My grandfather, father, and sister are architects, and my son is a civil engineer. My dad was a commercial/industrial contractor, so I started working with him when I was a kid. I learned to drive a full-size semi at 13 and still love to operate heavy equipment to this day.

 

What’s the best part of your job?

It is exciting to see a project go from an idea to a design to bidding to construction to a finished product. My favorite part of my job is the interaction with the owners, contractors, and the designers to make the project come to life.

 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your career?

I think the willingness of everyone to compromise to make a project flow and be built. I like that architects are willing to take advice from me as someone in the field and incorporate it into their designs. Constructability is the biggest key. They may design something that is difficult to construct, and in the field, I have to figure out a way to make that work.

 

We’ve heard you love the outdoors. Where did that come from?

I am one of 10 kids—five girls and five boys—and grew up in Logansport. We loved to camp as a family when I was young. I remember we had a school bus that we used as a camper when I was small, but it just wasn’t big enough for our whole family. As a result, dad constructed a 35-foot RV. My mom was an artist and painted a wolf logo to hang on it. That was 55 years ago, and I still have that wolf and hang it when I camp with my family.

Eric Wolf sign

Wolf Family Camping Sign

Where’s your dream destination to take the RV?

The United States is so beautiful and amazing. I have seen 48 of the 50 states. You go out west and there is nothing out there. It is just awesome! My dream vacation would be to take a rough terrain camper and just go west; see the mountains and just go out on the back roads. I love the idea of just getting out and being gone.

 

You used to ride motorcycles. Any crazy stories?

My Dad was an avid motorcycle rider. I learned to ride when I was five, so I have plenty of stories.

When I was 16 and my brother was 17, we rode Yamaha motorcycles from Logansport to Daytona Beach, Florida. We camped on the beach a couple days and then rode back.

 

What is your family like?

I have been married 40 years to my hometown honey, Patti. She is the principal at Landis Elementary School in Logansport. We have four sons, Allan, Jacob, Andrew, and Evan; two grandkids, Payton and Jack; and two dogs, a yellow lab (Bella) and a miniature pinscher (Samantha).

Eric and his wife, Patty

Eric Wolf and his wife, Patti

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!

 

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.