Local architectural firm Woollen Molzan disbands

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The venerable Indianapolis architectural firm that designed many of the city's most recognizable buildings has closed and two of its leaders have joined a local competitor.

Woollen Molzan and Partners Inc. leaders Lynn Molzan and Kevin Huse started new jobs with Ratio Architects Inc. on Monday after the closure of their 56-year-old firm.

Woollen Molzan was one of the oldest and, despite its small size, more prominent architectural firms in the city. Its significant projects include Clowes Hall, the Minton-Capehart Federal Building, the Central Library addition and the White River Gardens Conservatory Complex at the Indianapolis Zoo.

In addition to partners Molzan and Huse, Woollen Molzan architect Mike Brannan also joined Ratio Architects.

“I’ve known Lynn and Kevin for a number of years, and obviously they’re very talented architects,” Ratio Managing Partner Bill Browne said. “They do a lot of higher education [work], and we thought that would meld well for our clients.”

Reasons for the closure are unclear. Browne declined to comment, and neither Molzan nor Huse returned phone calls from IBJ.

Reached at his home in Colorado, firm founder Evans Woollen said he sold his interest in the firm 10 years ago, but had been informed by Molzan that it had closed.

“I am proud of 50 years of work with the firm. I cherish everything we did together,” Woollen, 83, said.  “It was a collaborative effort, and we’ve left many [designs] on the landscape.”

The recession was a likely factor in the closure, said Wayne Schmidt of local firm Schmidt Architects.

Schmidt serves as president of the Indianapolis City Market Corp., which hired Woollen Molzan last year to design the $3.4 million renovation under way at the historic structure.

“They’ve done a lot of significant work over the years, and they did a great job on the City Market project,” he said. “But, I tell you, the economy is just a wreck yet, and there’s still not enough work to go around.”

Schmidt said he was “shocked” to hear of the closing and found out through “word of mouth.” Though Woollen Molzan finished its design work at the City Market, building managers will need to hire another firm to observe construction, Schmidt said.

Woollen Molzan employed four licensed architects in 2006 and had local billings of $1.4 million, the most recent year it submitted information to IBJ. The firm had as many as nine licensed architects in the late 1990s.

Specializing mostly in libraries and religious buildings, its designs are sprinkled throughout the city. In the 1980s the firm designed additions to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, as well as renovations to Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral on Monument Circle and to the historic Union Station.

“There’s no question they’ve had a very storied career as an organization,” Browne said.

But perhaps its most notable—and controversial—project is the design of the Central Library expansion.

In 2006, Woollen Molzan agreed to pay the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library $580,000 to settle a dispute over construction problems that plagued the $150 million project.

In turn, the library paid Woollen Molzan $130,000 in fees.

The library fired the firm and sued it and others in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis related to design-flaw issues.

The architects filed a countersuit asking the court to order the library to reinstate them or prohibit the library from using the firm’s design in the new building.

The expanded Central Library reopened in December 2007, more than two years late and roughly $50 million over its original $103 million budget.

Woollen Molzan was founded by Woollen, who opened an office on Monument Circle in 1955.

In 1980, firm leaders purchased the historic Majestic Building at 47 S. Pennsylvania St., where Woollen Molzan operated for several years. It most recently was located at 600 S. Kentucky Ave. between Lucas Oil Stadium and the White River.

With $9.9 million in local billings and 22 licensed architects in 2009, Ratio is the city’s fourth-largest architectural firm, according to the most recent IBJ statistics.



  • Talent Remains
    While it is sad to see the end to an entity with such a rich portfolio of thoughtful design you can feel good that the talented designers remain in our community.
  • Ratio
    Clearly, Anonymous is kidding, right? Wollen Molzen will be missed for their contributions to the local fabric, but selling Ratio so short is ludicrous. "They build parking garages?" The Indiana State Museum, the DinoDome at the Children's Museum to name a very few of pieces. This is a great firm that just added even more talent to their stable.
    Sad news. I can remember watching a public television documentary on these folks back in the 90's. They are not just architects, but they are creative artists. Ratio builds parking garages. The mismanagement of our economy by our politicians is destroying the very viber of not just our country, but our community. Very sad.
  • End of an era
    Very bad news. This was a truly talented design and architectural firm. I think their presence will be missed in the quality of design work that is being produced here.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!