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AIA Indiana Convention Hosts Awards Show and Panel Discussion on Equitable Practices

by: Jack Quigley
This year’s AIA Indiana convention took place in historic Garfield Park in Indianapolis on September 25th, marking the organization’s first outdoor convention due to pandemic-related concerns. In an event that included a trade show, a panel discussion on racial equity in design, AIA’s annual meeting, and a design awards show, designers from across the state enjoyed the opportunity to reunite with old friends in a safe and socially distanced environment.
Panel on Equity and Diversity in Design
During the keynote panel discussion at this year’s convention, representatives of four prominent design firms in Indiana answered questions about the importance of equity in the design industry and talked about how their firms are sparking necessary discussions about engaging diverse pools of talent into their businesses.

Moderator Justin Ferguson posed questions to panelists Brian Robinson, founding partner of Meticulous Design and Architecture, Carrie Grogan, emotional intelligence and leadership development coach at RATIO, Greg Jacoby, AIA, president of Browning Day, and Sarah Hempstead, AIA, LEEP AP, CEO and principal of Schmidt Associates.

Ferguson opened the panel by asking speakers about conversations their firms are having regarding justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as if their firms are seeing any early outcomes from these discussions.

Hempstead said Schmidt started a committee open to anyone in the firm that focuses on how they can rebuild their thought processes surrounding the ideas of equity and inclusion.

“We need to totally rethink what we’re doing and how we’re considering equity,” Hempstead said. “Having equity and diversity as one of the key subject areas on the other side of this thing is new for us. It’s something we always talked about, but it’s never been one of the five areas of concentration and it’s going to be now.”

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Similar to Schmidt’s, Grogan said RATIO’s inclusivity committee exists to ensure every employee feels a sense of belonging at their firm.

Grogan said, “We’ve been having monthly dialogue sessions since March to increase understanding among our colleagues and really ensure everyone has a place at this table and has a voice in what our firm and this industry looks like moving forward. That has been our starting point.”

Jacoby mentioned Browning Day’s effort to create a safe space for employees to learn and ask questions – something the firm did not have before.

“Every time we meet, we ask three more questions that we don’t know the answer to,” Jacoby said. “So, I think we’re getting dumber to get smarter, and it’s going to take us a while to get smarter.”

Robinson said Meticulous has been having that conversation since his company’s inception. As one of the firm’s three founding partners – all of whom are African American – Robinson talked about how important it has been for him and his colleagues to hold the door open for healthy dialogue in discussions about race and diversity. In addition to conducting individual sit-down sessions with each of their employees, Meticulous reaches out to local schools to introduce architecture to students who otherwise may not know about the profession.

“We truly believe that’s where we have to start,” Robinson said. “Dialogues have to start not only in the boardrooms, but at a young age when minds are able to be influenced.”

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Ferguson then asked panelists about how their firms are working to engage employees into these sometimes difficult and embarrassing conversations. Hempstead said Schmidt emphasizes the idea to employees that no matter where a person is in his or her learning journey, everyone is encouraged to be a part of the discussions on equity and diversity.

“There has to be a way for everybody to participate in the conversation without feeling like they should have already known a bunch of stuff,” Hempstead said. “Maybe they should have and maybe they shouldn’t have, but if they don’t, there has to be a way to open up the conversation for everyone to participate.”

Other panelists agreed with Hempstead that no matter what an employee’s demographic or knowledge base is, he or she should feel empowered to engage themselves in these conversations. Grogan said there exists a real excitement around establishing equity in the design industry, but it is up to firms to give their employees a comfortable space to create change.

“For folks who are brand new at this, we want them to feel like they also have an entry point to participating and engaging in this conversation,” Grogan said. “We want everyone involved to feel like they’re taking steps forward.”

“That’s the core of what diversity is all about,” Robinson said. “Bringing together different points of view that others might not have been aware of.”

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Later in the panel discussion, Ferguson asked panelists about how their firms are engaging those outside their traditional pools of talent to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive pipeline. Hempstead mentioned that around 1 to 4 percent of architects nationally are minorities and in an effort to help raise that number, Schmidt is trying to encourage young people to get involved in the profession.

“We’re doubling down on starting as young as possible with the idea that this creative career can be for everyone,” Hempstead said.

When he was in school, Robinson said architecture was not a profession that was even discussed as a possibility for him or his peers.

“My guidance counselor didn’t even know what an architect was,” Robinson said. “And when I expressed that as the profession I wanted to go into, they were pushing me more towards construction and engineering because they understood that.”

Robinson said Meticulous has found in working with schools across the country that teacher, counselors, and students often have a lack of exposure the architecture profession, which contributes in part to the underrepresentation of minorities in the industry.

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Grogan agreed with Hempstead and Robinson that it is important for firms to work with schools and other organizations to establish a pipeline, but added that the key issue at hand is ensuring those people who are recruited feel like they belong after joining.

“I’m not interested in recruiting for Crystal Pepsi,” Grogan said. “I’m not interested in bringing people in because they look different but taste the same. We need to appreciate people for exactly who they are and really embrace that they are a culture add to our organization and not a culture fit. “

All panelists agreed that while there is no math equation that can determine how diverse and equitable business practices affect a company’s bottom line, there are tangible benefits to bringing in a mosaic of thoughts and perspectives. Grogan said members of younger generations are more attracted to businesses that value diversity and that this work will help firms recruit more talent. Robinson said designs are almost always better when designers who come from different backgrounds can add their own perspectives into the process.

“When we’re designing buildings in certain communities, it’s important to have your finger on the pulse of that community and it’s important to have the resulted design to be a place of betterment for the community,” Robinson said.

There is no singular approach to addressing diversity issues in the design industry, but each firm representative at this year’s panel discussion left spectators with a few effective strategies that can be implemented by more companies to promote inclusion and to build a more equitable environment.

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AIA Indiana Design and Service Awards
A jury of architects from AIA Baltimore voted on this year’s AIA Indiana design awards. Winning projects from this year were:
Design Award Winners
Honor Award – New Construction – Project Costing Greater than $1 million:

RATIO’s “Rose Hulman Insitute of Technology Mussallem Outdoor Dining Pavilion” in Terre Haute, IN

Jury Comments:

“A simple edifice that takes advantage and exploits the most subtle: scale and proportion; connection details; axial focal points and terminal vistas.”

“This gentle intervention makes a powerful contribution to student social and emotional wellness. The siting, restrained construction, dynamic daylighting, openness, landscape and framed views to the White Chapel across the pond are effective catalysts for reflection and regeneration. I appreciate the building’s compact scale, lightness, craft, elegance and simplicity that forms this peaceful space.”

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Merit Award – New Construction – Project Costing Greater than $1 million:

Duncan G. Striok Architect, LLC’s “Christ Chapel” in Hillsdale, MI

Jury Comments:

“Thoroughly executed creative details taking advantage of familiar vocabulary to produce elegant proportions.”

“I appreciate the grand and powerful statement this building makes as a heroic participant on the quadrangle. Worshipers would no doubt feel inspired within the monumental volumes and among a materiality of permanence and significance. The attention to Classical detail, cadence, texture, color and lighting contribute to an exceptional user experience.”

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Citation Award – New Construction – Project Costing Less than $1 Million:

ONE 10 STUDIO Architect’s “Shoemaker Residence” in Indianapolis, IN

Jury Comments:

“This house manages to be contextual and modern at the same time. The creative use of materials and forms on the public facades acknowledge the more traditional neighborhood, yet make it clear that the house is a contemporary intervention.”

“This house is compact, simple, elegantly detailed, uses thoughtful materials, has a refined ornament and offers a joyful interior experience. It seems at home within this traditional neighborhood but also stretches the residential language for a new generation.”

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Merit Award – New Construction – Project Costing Less than $1 Million:

HAUS | Architecture for Modern Lifestyles’ “Bridge House” in Fenneville, MI

Jury Comments:

“So simple yet so well connected to its setting. Everything is well thought of and strategically located to maximize connection to nature. Beautiful use of materials.”

“I really like the way this house is viewed and approached and its deference to the natural setting is commendable. The use of materials and composed views from every space connect the interior to the exterior. The detailing is clean, tight and well executed.”

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Honor Award – Interior Architecture – Project Costing More than $1 Million:

LANCER+BEEBE, LLC’s Walnut Grove Elementary School in Bargersville, IN

Jury Comments:

“A tour de force design. Sophisticated spatial zones provide a multitude of options and attitudes for occupants. Joyful, whimsical while holding to exacting professional standards.”

“This is what the interior of every elementary school should be - engaging, fun, and full of adventure. These spaces are clearly designed for the users.”

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Citation Award – Interior Architecture – Project Costing More than $1 Million:

CSO’s Clif Bar Bakery in Indianapolis, IN

Jury Comments:

“This project makes all the right moves. The spaces are warm and active and the focus on wellness and use of biophilic design unmistakably connect the users to the brand.”

“I just love the rigor of this design. Every move and every detail reinforce the story of this brand. The use of simple materials in fun and creative ways is delightful.”

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Merit Award – Preservation / Adaptive Reuse / Renovation:

Blackline’s The Mill in Bloomington, IN

Jury Comments:

“A thoughtful combination of accentuating the existing and tastefully inserting the new. This is a space I would want to work in.”

“I like the way the materials and details reference the history of this building. It is often easy to overwhelm the rich context that historic buildings offer, especially on the interior - this design shows great restraint.”

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Merit Award – Preservation / Adaptive Reuse / Renovation:

Schmidt Associates’ P.R Mallory Campus in Indianapolis, IN

Jury Comments:

“Simple finish materials elevated by expertly applied datums at every axis. Elegance created via rigorous aesthetic editing. Minimalist maximalism.”

“This project has a nice blending of old with innovative learning space. The old and new complement each other. The flexibility of spaces and furniture are nice compliments.”

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Honor Award – Preservation / Adaptive Reuse / Renovation:

ALLIANCE Architects’ Howard Park Renovation in South Bend, IN

Jury Comments:

“Assured rearrangement of site. Consistent design gestures throughout the multitude of site zones create a unifying visual vocabulary.”

“This is a really wonderful design that honors the history of the park and the spirit of place. This project meets and exceeds its goal to ‘surprise and delight.’ This park has so much to offer and the interplay of the various activity zones just adds to the excitement.”

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Citation Award – Preservation / Adaptive Reuse / Renovation

ONE 10 STUDIO Architects’ Highland House Renovation in Indianapolis, IN

Jury Comments:

“Nice upgrade and cohesive interior - Exterior accepts and complements original house. Well restrained.”

“The spaces and detailing in this house are beautiful. The additions are very sensitively done and don’t try to overwhelm the existing architecture. Great placemaking and connection to the site.”

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Honor Award – Interior Architecture – Project Costing Less than $1 Million:

Hafer’s Arts Council of Southwest Indiana in Evansville, IN

Jury Comments:

“Extraordinary project accomplishes what every great civic interior should by thoroughly linking interior activity to street and neighborhood. Confidently restrained, monastic design permits maximum spatial flexibility for occupants. Linkages to urban context extend from the street through the visually permeable storefront through to a narrow, deep interior and then segues vertically to the rooftop, which returns occupants back to the street life via sight lines.”

“Sensitive and artful intervention. Restrained elegance. Contemporary space but the historic elements contribute to the experience.”

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H. Roll McClaughlin 25-Year Award:

CSO and Browning Day’s Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis, IN

Jury Comments:

“In 1976, downtown Indianapolis had hit bottom. Numerous attempts were being made to revitalize and bring life back to the City’s urban center, including major improvements to Monument Circle and construction of a tennis center to attract the National Tennis Championships. Several annual festivals were established to bring people to the Circle and to Military Park. City efforts to attract new office space had succeeded to the tune of about 200,000 sq. ft. per year. But night life and retailing were all but non-existent. The joke was that “you could stand at Meridian and Washington streets at 7:00, shoot a shotgun in all four directions and not hit anyone.” Our fledgling Convention Center was experiencing some success but was severely hampered both by the downtown atmosphere and lack of hotel rooms.

This multi-block project integrated the preservation of numerous historic buildings and facades to maintain the unique character of downtown Indianapolis while providing a vibrant multi-block mixed use development. Twenty-five years after its completion, it continues to be a case study of working with local preservation agencies to create a vision that supports local preservation efforts and revitalizes urban centers through new development.”

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2020 AIA Indiana Design Awards’ Jury – Provided by AIA Baltimore:

Alan Reed, FAIA, LEED AP - Jury Chair - GWWO Architects – Baltimore, MD
Scott R. Vieth, AIA, LEED AP BD+C - Design Collective, Inc. – Baltimore, MD
Suzanne Frazier, FAIA, NOMA ASID, CID - Morgan State University – Baltimore, MD
Jim Determan, FAIA - Craig Gaulden Davis – Baltimore, MD
Rima Mamek, AIA - Quinn Evans – Baltimore, MD

Service Award Winners
Gold Medal Award: Don Sporleder, FAIA

“Don Sporleder, FAIA, was awarded the highest honor one can receive from AIA Indiana. The Gold Medal Award recognizes accomplishments in promoting the aesthetic, scientific and practical excellence of the profession, advancing the science and art of planning and building as well as advancing the standards of architectural education and training. It’s also awarded to those who exemplify many years of service to society through service in the AIA and other voluntary endeavors.

Sporleder is University of Notre Dame’s Professor of Architecture Emeritus, where he taught from 1963 to 1998, and served as co-principal of Crumlish/Sporleder & Associates, Inc., Architects, from 1965 to 1990. His long list of accomplishments in the industry add great distinction to this awards category. Sporleder was involved in a host of impressive projects with the firm, including urban design and downtown renewal in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York and Minnesota. He worked on master plans for University College Dublin, Ireland, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand, and the West Pakistan Agricultural University in West Pakistan. He's been involved in dozens of community and professional organizations and continues to serve the Hoosier Rails/Trails Council, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Friends of the St. Joseph River Advisory Board, and Neighborhood Resources Corp.” – AIA Indiana.

Edward D. Pierre Award: Justin Ferguson, AIA

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“Named for Indianapolis’ Edward D. Pierre, who was a crusader for the welfare of children, decent housing for all and progressive urban planning, Justin Ferguson, AIA, is this year’s award recipient. He currently is the lead strategist at BHDP Architecture in Cincinnati, OH. Ferguson was previously the director of design at Meticulous Design + Architecture in Indianapolis, IN. Before joining Meticulous, Ferguson was the director of Ball State CAP Center in Indianapolis. He has extensively worked to connect people to architecture by guiding city and community leaders in design, assisting the public through outreach and engagement, and supporting diverse communities through design justice advocacy. The latest of his many contributions is the proposal for the new AIA Indiana Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee, of which Ferguson is the 2020 chairman.” – AIA Indiana.

Juliet Peddle Award: Jack Faber, AIA

“Jack Faber, AIA, embodies the spirit of this award, named for Indiana architect Juliet Peddle, who was known for her strong devotion and commitment to architecture, display of professionalism and perseverance and having a kind spirit.

Faber is fueled by a desire for design excellence and a belief that every project begins with a story. He finds joy in the opportunity to truly improve lives of the people who live, work and inhabit the environments he creates. Not only does Faber have a keen focus on design but he is equally passionate about charity. He serves as a mentor to young designers both in and outside the firm and gives back to his community through many philanthropic efforts. Faber has given much back to our profession through service to AIA, lectures, presentations to students and communities, and charity projects. He is well recognized in the community as a passionate and giving leader.” – AIA Indiana

Young Architect Award: Matthew Sparling, AIA

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“This year’s Young Architect Award goes to Matthew Sparling, AIA, in recognition of his proficiency and exceptional accomplishments in, and contributions to, the profession. Award recipients must be a licensed architect who has been a member in good standing of AIA Indiana for a minimum of three years and is 40 years or younger.

Sparling is skilled in finding solutions to complicated challenges. Take the coronavirus. When COVID-19 struck, Sparling quickly went to work, helping clients make immediate modifications to their facilities in preparation of the growing number of pandemic patients. Sparling has been instrumental in helping MKM grow and become one of the “Top Healthcare Architecture Firms” in the country by Modern Healthcare Magazine for 13 consecutive years. With an extensive background in managing complex healthcare projects for large institutional clients, he has a reputation for successfully planning, designing and executing large-scale healthcare projects throughout Indiana.” – AIA Indiana

Firm of the Year: Schmidt Associates

“Schmidt Associates earned the Distinguished Firm Award, recognizing a member firm which, through consistent leadership, vision and ability, has distinguished itself through design and implementation of works of architecture that enhance the quality of our environment.

It’s no easy task to transition leadership, but Schmidt Associates made it look easy. The firm has experienced continued growth even after founder Wayne Schmidt, FAIA, retired and Sarah Hempstead, AIA, became CEO. Schmidt has grown geographically and in services and project types. A merger with a boutique healthcare design firm in Louisville this year resulted in 10 new employees, an office in Kentucky, one new partner, and four new associates. The firm has seen a 30-percent increase in staff members in two years, and a 138-percent increase in revenue over nine years.” – AIA Indiana

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President’s Award: Mary Krupinski, AIA; Lucas Brown, AIA; Bill Brown, AIA; and Christine Matheu

“Mary Krupinski, AIA, Lucas Brown, AIA, Bill Brown, AIA, and Christine Matheu, all were honored with the President's Award for going above and beyond the call of duty in serving the profession. They were recognized for their efforts in planning the 2020 Bloomington Architecture and Design Symposium. Unfortunately, the symposium had to be postponed but will be rescheduled for 2021.

This day-long design symposium at Bloomington City Hall was to include a panel discussion featuring Mayor John Hamilton and his three predecessors, who were to discuss their combined 30-year vision, the “String of Pearls.” It’s the name given to a string of development, including city hall, the B-line, Certified Technology Park, Switchyard Park and Bloomington IU Hospital. The symposium also included presentations regarding J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program, shifting to carbon neutral, connections between academia, fabricators and architects, and a keynote presentation regarding insights into how Austin, TX was able to build density while preserving its character.” – AIA Indiana

Legislator of the Year: State Representative Denny Zent (R-Angola)

“State Rep. Denny Zent is this year’s recipient of the Legislator of the Year Award, which recognizes a state legislator who supports the architecture profession in the Indiana General Assembly.

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Rep. Zent is respected in the statehouse for his fairness and ability to truly listen to all sides of an issues. He has been open-minded about issues relating to the built environment and provided significant support to Hoosier architects this past legislative session. As chair of the House Local Government Committee, Rep. Zent stopped HB 1060 from becoming a law. The bill, regulation of building materials, would have striped local governments and citizen committees of their ability to influence architecture in their communities.” – AIA Indiana

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