Top 10 Wonderful Architectural Buildings in Indy

What makes a building architecturally significant and what buildings in Indianapolis fit that bill?

These are the questions that a small group of experts associated with the American Institute of Architects Indianapolis asked to answer in early November.

In an hour-and-a-half-hour discussion, six designers debated the merits of dozens of local structures built after WWII, hoping to determine which were the most popular in the city.

The exercise was conducted in the hopes of igniting a conversation among architects and the general public about the most important buildings in Indianapolis, said Brandon Farley, chairman of the AIA Indianapolis executive committee.

“It was really motivated by the idea that we could start a conversation,” Farley said. “I think if we have more conversations about the amazing buildings we have in our city, we are doing something great for the architectural community. “

The panel included several members of the AIA’s local executive committee, as well as a few industry professionals, all of whom have their own understanding of what makes a building architecturally significant.

“We’ve had a very comprehensive group involved in this – people who really know their stuff,” Farley said. “But we all approached it with a different perspective and different ideas about what makes a building unique and important. “

The list, he said, is certainly not meant to be exhaustive and was compiled without putting the choices in a specific order. Farley said he expects some people to disagree with some of the panel’s selections.

After all, not all selections were unanimous, and Farley said he opposed a couple – The Pyramids on the Northwest Side, in particular – but advocacy from other members led to their inclusion.

He said that while the pyramids are important, he doesn’t consider them to be the most technically perfect buildings the city has to offer. Other panelists expressed similar views on other selected properties, such as Victory Field and the Ruth Lilly Visitors Pavilion.

In addition to the final selections, the panel examined buildings like the Eskenazi Hospital and the Community Justice Campus, although Farley said the panel ultimately determined that the justice campus needs to be fully operational before including it on the list. .

“If we made the same list in a few years, I think we would almost certainly need to include it in the discussion,” he said.

Here is the list, in alphabetical order:

(Photo courtesy of CTS)

Christian Theological Seminary

Address: 1000 W. 42nd Street

Open: 1966

Architect: Edward Larrabee Barnes

From a panelist: “CTS’s Sweeney Chapel is by no means a huge building, but it’s so well done,” said Patrick Kestner, owner of Still Architecture in Indianapolis and vice president of AIA Indianapolis. “When you are in this space and the light goes through this stained glass window, it is just a beautiful example of how a chapel could be built. “

Details: The original Sweeney Chapel is a simple geometric structure that blends into the woods and is the result of a change of plans after the retirement of accomplished designer Eero Saarinen due to other commitments.

(IBJ file photo)

Clowes Memorial Hall

Address: 4602 Sunset Ave.

Open: 1963

Architect: Molzan wool partners

From a panelist: “It was the very beginning of Evans Woollen’s work in Indianapolis; it is certainly indicative of this style of iconic brutalism. I would take Clowes every day, ”said Olon Dotson, professor and acting department chair at Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning.

Details: The only representation of Brutalist architecture on the list, Clowes was an anomaly when it opened. However, this style of design took hold in the city, with several significant downtown buildings, such as the Minton-Capehart Federal Building and the Barton Tower, both also designed by Woolen Molzan, who followed in the years that followed. followed.

(IBJ file photo)

Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport

Address: 7800 Colonel H. Weir Cook Memorial Road

Open: 2008

Architects: HOK and AeroDesign, a joint venture of eight local companies, including CSO Architects

From a panelist: “The airport embodies the definition of great architecture. It is carefully designed, efficient and functional. Not to mention the beauty, ”said Brandon Farley, architect at StructurePoint and president of AIA Indianapolis.

Details: The terminal includes extensive public art, although many panelists lamented that many of the original works have been replaced by advertisements over the years. Even so, the property was a unanimous choice.

(IBJ file photo)

Cummins Global Distribution Headquarters

Address: 251 N. Illinois St.

Open: 2017

Architects: Deborah Berke Partners and Ratio

From a panelist: “I really like the Cummins Tower. To me, this is a good example of the new paradigm for office buildings, ”said Farley. “It’s definitely a more interesting and thoughtful take on an urban office building. They could have easily made it into a two story building covering the entire block, but they didn’t, right? They stacked the area along the perimeter. They preserved the urban periphery, made choices of interesting sites.

Details: Cummins Headquarters is the most recent building on the AIA’s list and sits atop the former Market Square Arena site, which was demolished in 2001.

(IBJ file photo)

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Address: 500 W. Washington St.

Open: 1989

Architect: Jonathan hess

From a panelist: “The Eiteljorg is an important and great design piece,” said Kestner. “The exterior reflects its interior and its mission. It’s a cool building.

Details: Hess was inspired by trips to the southwest with museum founder Harrison Eiteljorg, studying land, architecture and people.

(Photo courtesy of Butler University)

Irwin Library at Butler University

Address: 4600 Sunset Ave.

Open: 1963

Architect: Minoru Yamasaki

From a panelist: “Its clean, mid-century modern terrazzo interior is very open,” Dotson said. “He’s known for those little arched openings repeated over and over again. [Yamasaki] was known for it, even on the World Trade Center. … It was radical for the time.

Details: The Irwin Library was designed in 21 shades of white by Yamasaki, a prominent 20th century architect who also designed the original World Trade Center.

(IBJ file photo)

Hall of NCAA Champions and more

Site: White River State Park

Open: 2000, renovations / addition completed in 2009 following an electrical fire in 2007

Architects: Original: Michael Graves, in partnership with Schmidt Associates. Renovations / Additions: Ratio and Jack Rouse Associates

From a panelist: “If you look at the Hall of Champions and take it and put it somewhere else, it still stands out,” Kestner said. “If you take the addition and put it in the suburbs of Chicago, it blends in. I think it’s a good piece of architecture … [but] I would have a hard time installing the addition and not the original building.

Details: While some, like Farley, argued for only including the addition on the list, others insisted that the entire building be included.

(Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)

The pyramids

Address: 300, boulevard Depauw

Open: 1972

Architects: Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo

From a panelist: “I discovered The Pyramids when I was on top of what was once the National Bank of Indiana building, and I looked northwest and it almost blinded me,” said Dotson. “I think they’re interesting. Someone took a chance. The Pyramids spark discussion and debate.

Details: Originally the pyramids were to be part of an office park of nine buildings, but with little space occupied in the first three, the rest of the project was scrapped.

(Photo courtesy of Newfields)

Ruth Lilly Visitor Pavilion at Newfields’ Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park

Address: 4000 Michigan Road

Open: 2010

Architect: Marlon blackwell

From a panelist: “I proposed to my wife on the porch of this building. I love this building, ”said Farley. “But it’s a bit of a ridiculous building. It’s a multi-million dollar lodge in the woods. It contains bathrooms and a living room. You can watch the birds, I guess. … It is beautiful as art, but great architecture serves a function and has a purpose.

Details: The pavilion is considered by panelists to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Indianapolis, but some stopped before calling it strong architecture. Despite this, the visitor’s center has received nationwide acclaim, including the best design award from the US National Institute of Architects.

(IBJ file photo)

Victory field

Address: 501 W. Maryland St.

Open: 1996

Architects: HOK Sport and Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf

From a panelist: “It’s extremely well done. It’s a great place, ”said Sanford Garner, former president of AIA Indianapolis and owner of RG Collaborative.

Details: Home of the Indianapolis Indians, Victory Field has played a major role in revitalizing the downtown area and giving people a reason to spend time in the hallway on summer evenings. Some panelists claimed the venue was the finest minor league baseball stadium in the country. •