A native Hoosier, Wayne S. Schmidt founded Schmidt Associates in Indianapolis in 1976 and was the sole employee. As principal and CEO, he grew the firm’s staff and influence over the next 40 years, making a mark on his community through many beloved and historic projects. In 2016, he passed the leadership of the firm to his successor, Sarah Hempstead.
Wayne was an important driver in the urban revitalization of the Mass Ave neighborhood in Indianapolis. In the late 1970s, this now booming cultural district was a rundown, undesirable part of town. Wayne had a vision of the avenue as a hub of art and culture. He believed that by moving his firm here, he could influence and improve the surrounding area. Over the next 40 years, that’s exactly what he did. The Schmidt Associates office still resides in the middle of Mass Ave, surrounded by restaurants, shops, trendy apartments, and Indianapolis hot spots, many of which the firm worked on.
Wayne was a strong, well-known advocate for progress in the city throughout his career. In 2002, he received the Robert D. Beckmann Leadership Award from the Riley Area Development Corporation for his service to the community.
He was also heavily involved in the state’s architectural community, including the American Institute of Architects, the Indiana Society of Architects, and the Indiana Architectural Foundation. Wayne has advocated for architects in front of the Indiana State Senate, and he co-authored the book Indianapolis Architecture.
Wayne, on how his career began:
“It seems like yesterday I was drafting, with an ‘H’ lead pencil and tracing paper, the plans for the Kerner House, my first project. I remember explaining to the owner [that] sun orientation was critical to capturing the morning light and protecting against afternoon sun from the west. The owner asked the contractor if that made sense, and he replied he didn’t know – he ‘just tried to make the house wider than it was deep so it looked bigger from the street.’ I got the job!”