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New Family Center Breaks Ground at Broad Ripple Park

by: Jack Quigley
Developer BR Health Holdings LLC broke ground on a long-planned community and health family center at Broad Ripple Park in July.

The new 40,000-square-foot Broad Ripple Park Family Center facility will replace an aging, smaller building that was recently demolished. BR Health – affiliated with between Community Health Network and Indianapolis-based Avenue Development – is developing the property, which will include recreational space and a primary care health clinic. Indy Parks is expected to lease at least 25,000 square feet in the building, and Community Health Network will lease the remaining space and coordinate health and wellness programming with Indy Parks.

The community center project is part of the overall $70 million master renovation plan for the park approved in 2018 that recommended the replacement of an existing 11,000-square-foot facility which Indy Parks officials deemed to be at the end of its useful life.

A gymnasium, indoor running and walking track, multi-purpose rooms, flexible lobby space, administrative offices, program rooms for group fitness and other activities, and lockers will be included in the new two-level facility. Community Health Network will use an additional 15,000 square feet for a healthcare and preventative wellness clinic.

Broad Ripple Park serves an average of 337,000 park visitors per year, and the new family center will enable park staff to provide more versatile programming for neighbors of all ages.

Defining Principal Objectives
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In 2016, Indy Parks completed a comprehensive master plan of the entire park and greenway system throughout the City of Indianapolis. The family center is among the first parts of the master plan to be implemented, joining the recently expanded Broad Ripple Dog Park.

As part of the master plan, seven guiding design principles were established:

  • Create a signature and sustainable park
  • Connect to the river and enhance river access
  • Connect to Broad Ripple Village and adjacent communities
  • Establish a balance between passive and active recreation
  • Engage with nature and incorporate environmental education
  • Design and promote art for community, culture, and commerce
  • Expand, enhance, and build upon existing park programming

arcDESIGN and Williams Architects-Aquatics out of Chicago provided the architectural and interior design for the Family Center. Context Design, who developed the overall 2016 Broad Ripple Park masterplan, provided the landscape architecture designs for the family center site.

Connecting the new facility to the river became a key design objective for this $19.6 million, 40,000 square foot project, and Indy Parks’ guiding design principles helped shape the architectural team’s concept studies along the way. Additionally, the design team worked to create a signature building that is elegant in its design, appropriate for a multi-generational and multi-cultural audience, and one that offers year-round usability.

Fostering an Interactive and Flexible Environment
Community involvement was critical for this project.

Several community engagement sessions conducted throughout the design process allowed future users of the facility to express their concerns and desires for the building, said Daniel Potash, Associate at arcDESIGN.

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“It became pretty evident that community members wanted a place to gather and to learn together,” Potash said. “So, because of that, we have several different scales of gathering and community spaces within the building.”

Community Health Network will present classes and interactive discussions that will allow the community to learn about health, fitness, and wellbeing – aligning the uses of the facility with communally-expressed desires.

Potash said flexibility was one of the central design objectives communicated by Broad Ripple residents to the design team for the project. arcDESIGN and Williams were thoughtful to design group exercise rooms on the main entry level to allow for connections of future exercise equipment.

Potash offered another example of the facility’s flexibility when discussing a Cirque De Soleil-type sport called aerial silks, in which a person hangs from a silk rope connected to the ceiling and performs aerial acrobatics. The structure in the group exercise rooms in the facility can accommodate aerial silks classes hosted by Indy Parks.

Plenty of audio and visual connections located in these group exercise rooms will facilitate presentations and lecturers, Potash said. The design team also incorporated sufficient storage space throughout areas of the building so users and operators can easily store equipment.

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In the multi-purpose room on the lower level, arcDESIGN and Williams incorporated an operable partition which will allow users to open the room or subdivide it for different meeting sizes. In the gym, a curtain will come down from the ceiling at the half court line that will allow Indy Parks to rent out different parts of the gym for multiple sports.

“We heard repeatedly in those community engagement sessions that pickleball is pretty big apparently,” Potash said. “I’ve never played it – I’ve actually never even seen it played, but it was very important to the community that there were plenty of pickleball courts. So having the flexibility to host volleyball games, pickleball games, and different full court, half court, and side court basketball activities was pretty important in establishing future flexibility within the facility.”

Blending into the Neighborhood

Potash said arcDESIGN and Williams was intentional to design the family center’s exterior in a way that blends the new building into its surrounding landscape.

“We tried to keep the building as low and horizontally-oriented as we possibly could so it didn’t seem out of place,” Potash said. “Most of the glazing and front of the building aims more into the park, so the intent is to bring people into the park to experience both the park and the facility.”

Stone products and additional natural materials will be incorporated into the building’s exterior, a design consideration which Potash said speaks back to Indiana’s limestone heritage.

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Glass walls throughout the interior and clerestory windows across the exterior will allow users to observe the surrounding nature while indoors. Potash said the project team is working on site improvements to the nearby riverbank which will coincide with Indy Parks’ larger master plan which calls for the construction of a Riverwalk trail between the White River and Broad Ripple Avenue.

“The most interesting thing to me is that we tried to maintain as many of those views out to the river as possible, so that as you’re walking on the indoor track, you still have those really nice connections to the outdoors,” Potash said. “So, I’m really looking forward to seeing how that looks once its built.”

“I can see a parent dropping their son or daughter off for basketball practice and then the parent goes and walks along the track while their son or daughter is downstairs,” Potash said. “Being able to have that visual connection down to them and even just hearing kids having fun while they’re exercising and being active is going to be a really engaging part of the building.”

Project Team
  • Architect of Record – arcDESIGN
  • Recreation Designer – Williams Architects / Aquatics
  • Construction Management – Meyer Najem
  • Landscape Architect – Context Design
  • Civil Engineer – CEC
  • Public Partner – Indy Parks
  • Private Partner – Community Health Network
  • Development Partner – Avenue Development / BR Health Holdings LLC

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