Conservancy plans 'green' HQ

January 11, 2008
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New Headquarters for Nature ConservancyThe Nature Conservancy has agreed to buy an old industrial property on the eastern edge of downtown to develop a new Indiana headquarters. The $4.5 million project will revitalize or replace the former home of Nemec Heating & Supply Co. at 614 E. Ohio St. The property takes up about half the block between Easley Winery and the former home of Harmon Auto Glass, where construction is under way on the six-story, 105-unit Maxwell. The rest of the block is occupied by funeral services firm Buchanan Group, which just finished renovating its new headquarters, an old warehouse building. The Conservancy is working with locally based Axis Architects to design an energy-efficient headquarters with a “green� roof and extensive landscaping. The organization is aiming for the highest level of LEED certification. Check out the full story here.
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  • I'm all for the LEED.
    Is this structure historic? If so I'd hope it would be salvaged.
  • Just because its historic doesn't mean its worth saving. It looks like a trashy building to me. It needs to be torn down and something cutting edge and enviornmentally friendly needs to be built in its place.
  • What are you talking about? That kind of thinking lead to the total demolition of much of downtown. I think you mean because its old it shouldn't be preserved because not everything old is historic! My shack is from 1899 but its not interesting, its just a crappy wood box with a tin roof. Cutting edge? I don't know what you mean exactly. If you mean modern then you are wrong. Almost always modern architecture becomes an eyesore in a matter of years, the city county building was known as cutting edge and cool but now its the ugliest building downtown! This structure isn't amazing, but it isn't an eyesore(take away that ugly yellow crap) and to demolish it and replace it with something that will age horribly seems a little less 'cutting edge' and a little more backward.
  • Invariably the cool old places I've been in other cities are nondescript old brick buildings like this one that are re-purposed. There's a cool (and green) factor in re-use of an obsolete shell.
  • This is really good news.

    I drive past this building often. It has potential to look sweet. Good Bones, as they say.
  • I personally think that this is great! Lord knows we could use some greenery on the near east side of downtown. :)
  • Seems the ultimate in green construction would be to reuse what is there. Otherwise we are dumping a large amount of trash in a landfill and then exploiting more natural resources to build new.
  • Maybe it's just me, but it looks like there is an outline of an old doorway on the side of that building. That leads me to believe this structure is quite old, and probably has quite a bit of historical value to it that makes it worth saving. Colts, I couldn't agree with you less. Old buildings, when properly restored, add historic value and identity to our city.
  • This building is not listed as a significant historic building in the Center Township, Marion County Interim Report. That means it is most likely not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It may be old and it may be useable. I hope it can be rehabilitated as we are demolishing way too many old buildings just because the new owner wants something new. Over the years I have worked in several plain old brick warehouse buildings and the interior spaces were exciting and modern. If anyone in town can do that to this building, it is Axis Architects. They have completed some very interesting projects. There is no reason we can not reuse more old buildings rather than throwing their material into a waste dump. I would love to have this old buidling for my own loft. Now that would be
  • Cory, what happened? The last part of my comment was not printed. Did I say something wrong? I only praised the new addition to the library and the City County Building.
  • Mikey that is a doorway.
    I think it would be great if they could restore the closed up doorways to functional doorways. The structure is not really that significant compared to many center township structures as it is in the older part of town its architecture is dwarfed by victorian structures with fine detail and more interesting histories. I also agree that this is preserving a part of our culture. If only reuse was thought of more often through 1950-1980. We lost many gems and saw the extinction of second empire(which was once very common) in downtown Indianapolis. This is why I hate seeing so much of Old Indy still boarded up, and not just houses but fine masonry shops and apartment buildings! Heck, I think IPS could learn to reuse some old schools.
  • color me free: I didn't edit your post, so I'm not sure what happened. Try to post your comment again.
  • Cory, if a posting is too long, it seems to get silently junked. I wonder if that post getting truncated is another manifestation of the same problem with the software.
  • Folks: If you're having trouble posting a lengthy comment, break it into a couple of posts for now. Meanwhile, I'll talk with our IT guys.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but it looks like there is an outline of an old doorway on the side of that building.

    Not only that, but the front of the building has several bricked-over areas that appear to be windows. This building seems like it could easily go from a brick box to a historic stunner if the owners are willing to go down that path.
  • To Colts: The greenest building is one that already exists. You should read this: http://www.nationaltrust.org/Magazine/current/feature1.htm
  • Living in the area and being quite familiar with the Nemec building, this is very exciting. I am hopeful, and optimistic, about the restoration and possibly an addition to this old building. Considering what Axis did with their own offices about a block away, I expect to see something very interesting and cool happening with this project.
  • I think it would be very embarrassing for an organization that stands for conservation to tear down a historic building to build a shiny new “energy efficient” one. Being “Green” is more than achieving LEED certification. Historic buildings like this brick one are energy efficient and can be made more so than a new one. Read Donovan Rypkema’s comments in Downtown Revitalization, Sustainability, and Historic Preservation: http://conference.mainstreet.org/MediaLibrary/2007_ClosingPlenary_Rypkema.pdf
  • If you do not have time to read the entire document referenced in my previous comment, at least read page 4 which is very applicable to the Nemec Building.
  • very interesting m louise!
    I agree, structures that are older tend to last much longer and usually require less energy!
  • m louise, now that preservation and adaptive re-use have both kinds of green arguments going for them (green in the ecological sense, and green in the dollars sense, especially when tax credits are available) developers see that there's money to be made.

    The new office space in downtown Indy recently has been in Capitol View (re-used warehouse), Gibson, Faris, several downtown schools, the new home of DMD Permitting and Compliance and DPW Engineering (re-used factory/warehouse), Farm Bureau. Buckingham is re-using the Stokely Building. Shiel Sexton has re-developed the historic Lexington. WFYI re-purposed the old Indiana Energy building, which is a wonderful (in quotes because I don't like the style, but it's very representative of the era) example of 80's Corporate architecture, itself an expansion/re-use of an historic building. A block away, the Herron School site is being adaptively re-used, and a developer is planning a re-do of the Penn Arts building.

    On the other hand, no one has built a new office or apartment tower in years while the market re-absorbs all the underutilized re-usable spaces. The NEMEC building is just one more example of where the action is in the downtown market. Like you, I hope to see it adaptively re-used. Thanks for the link to the Rypkema piece. I'll use it. :-)
  • its better to renovate and re-use what we have and then build new high density space when there is nothing left to renovate! :)
  • I used to work at the building some 15+ years ago and I can tell you that the walls are so out of place that the second floor almost fell to the 1st. The roof leaked for years and was never worked on just empty the buckets....good luck on a reuse, I have not been there in years but it was bad even then. I remember the upstair walls being many feet bowed out...I don't see it.
  • Cory, any update on this? There is an interesting article in the most recent Urban Times about this property, and the whole historic preservation / LEED certification issue.
  • Now that the deed has been done (the existing building is now a pile of rubble), maybe the Nature Conservancy would be willing to share their new LEED design plans.

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