Architect submits sleeker design for downtown fire station

March 28, 2014
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The architect charged with designing a new downtown fire station has submitted another draft to the city after the original one received a chilly reception from neighbors.

fire station
                              no 7 new rendering 225pxAxis Architecture + Interiors’ revised design was to be considered by the city’s Regional Center Hearing Examiner on Thursday. But the case was continued until April 10 to give the Indianapolis Fire Department more time to meet with neighborhood groups about the plans.

Check out the updated design (above) as compared to the original (below).

The original design first came up for hearing examiner approval in January, but approval has been continued three times now while the parties involved settle on a suitable sketch.

fire station
                              no 7 old rendering 225pxAs part of an ambitious real estate swap, IFD plans to move its offices to the building currently occupied by the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis at 441 E. 10th St. It would construct the fire station on the same property, which is about four blocks north of the existing IFD complex at 555 N. New Jersey St.

That would make way for construction of a $43 million apartment and retail development at the intersection of New Jersey and Massachusetts Avenue where IFD’s headquarters now stands.

Plans for the new fire station filed with the city show a comparatively sleek and more modern two-story, 22,825-square-foot building. The project, slated for the Red Cross' parking lot, eliminates a significant amount of unneeded parking, the filing says. Eighty-nine of the existing 138 spaces would remain.

The station would be built on the southwest corner of the property along Fort Wayne Avenue.

To make way for the fire department, the Red Cross plans to build a new headquarters at the former home of the Payton Wells car dealership at 1510 N. Meridian St. The dealership closed in 2007 and the building was demolished last January.

The Red Cross also demolished a two-story building to the south at 1440 N. Meridian St., the former home of WXIN-TV Channel 59, which moved to Intech Park on the northwest side in late 2003.

The final step would have a team of local developers—J.C. Hart Co., Schmidt Architects and Strongbox Commercial—construct a five-story project with about 235 apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space on the 1.45-acre site to be vacated by the fire department.

  • Much better!
    Wow, what a huge improvement over the original trash that they designed. This is what Indianapolis can get when we don't settle for mediocrity.
    • Nice!
      Much, much better...
    • Thank you
      What a turn around, about time Indy designs look like were in the 21st Century.
    • Indianapolis Architects
      It's amazing what Indianapolis architects can do when allowed to design in an appropriate manner and without being forced by uninformed parties into false, conservative notions of what the public wants. There are great firms in Indianapolis. All they need are clients willing to allow them to do great work.
    • Columbus or Indy?
      My first thought on the new design is that it looks like the fire stations that have been built in Columbus,IN the last few decades, which is a good thing. And Indy landed the Columbus based, Cummins building this week as well. Both, a step in the right direction for Indy.
    • Better!
      The original design looked like it belonged in the 'burbs. This new design is MUCH sleeker and projects a much more urban vibe. Bravo!
    • Probably original intent
      This, I would place bets of nears thousands of dollars, was the original want and intent of the architects; had they had a willing decision maker on the city side. This is very similar to the fire station they did in Shelbyville which won quite a few awards for the project, Axis and staff. This is what must of us know to come from Axis and expect it. Not the suburban crap they were guided to design. Huge improvement, and a great structure to have downtown. (I do not work for, from, or have Axis as a client)
    • Kudos
      Kudos to Axis for coming up with a slick design and kudos to the city for finally listening to the people whose money they are spending. The new design looks much nicer and ditches the suburban feel for a more contemporary downtown aesthetic. Now if we could only get them to apply the same logic to all of the cement fiber board throw away apartment buildings being approved every month.
    • Architecture
      In the past people have complained that no matter what an architect puts forward in Indianapolis, people will be complaining on this blog. The comments above prove that this is not the case. If an architect puts forward quality work, it will be commended.
    • Curious
      Love the new design. I'm from Anderson and the original design looked like it belonged here. Just out of curiosity, what is that white building behind the proposed fire station in the picture? Not extremely familiar with all the roads in Indy. Thanks
    • Thank you!
      The post by An Architect above is right on. It was not so long ago that proposals like the initial design would have been easily approved by uninformed folks with little or no reaction from the public. We, as a City, should be proud of the progress that has been made when it comes to challenging old norms and demanding better urban design.
    • Fantastic
      What an incredible improvement over the banal, bland, and boring previous entry. Way to go Axis Architecture + Interiors. Are Indy city planners actually reading this blog and perhaps paying attention to what readers are suggesting. Indy does deserve better design that belongs in this current progressive century and the public wants more contemporary and modern designs such as this.
    • Definitely an improvement ...
      but let's not hail it like it is some breakthrough architecture as some seem to be in their praise. This is the baseline standard of what we should be expecting in the year 2014 for new civic construction. This should be the starting point for design review, not the ending point.
    • City Planners?
      @amax Your reference to "city planners" should be replaced by the Mayor's Office and Bond Bank, because they are the ones who make these initial design decisions. The Regional Center Hearing Examiner (City Planning), only reviews what is given to them. If the City was really concerned about planning and design, it would not have laid off five city planners last year.
    • Beg to differ
      I realize my view is totally opposite all those expressed to this point, but I really prefer the original design. In my view, design should reflect the historical roots of a city (I believe the brick, more traditional original design does that in Indy). I also embrace the introduction of new, compatible, innovative design elements (I appreciate that Indy isn't Williamsburg). However, when I first glanced at the new rendering, my first thought was another new Jiffy Lube outlet. I find it very cold and uninteresting. New isn't always better, old isn't necessarily bad. Just felt the need to voice my humble opinion against strong opposite head winds.
    • Improvement?
      The new design is godawful. Trendy, momentary design. Yes, it takes risks and doesn't "look like a fire station." Guess what: In 5 years when trends shift the gripe will be that the building looks "Dated." Which is probably why they went with a more traditional red-brick design in the first place.
      • context is important
        Frank & MonkeyBoy---this design is a HUGE improvement. The boring 'traditional' proposal belongs on 116th ST or OLIO RD in Fischers. Apparently both of you have no clue where this is located? SO just to inform you it's downtown, therefore an urban, modern form is appropriate. It also fits in with the surrounding area---especially the existing buildings. Sure there are some historic bildings in the area but we are talking about a FIRE STATION: let the utilitarian nature of this building shine with it's sleek form---while not pretending to be a part of the past. The year is 2014--not 1984. It was interesting to drive by a fire station on West Washington Street (can't remember the #?) and thought, "how embarrassing that downtown Indy can't even have a design like this?!?!?!?!" Well, it's apparent the mindset of people like Frank and MonkeyBoy keeps Indy in the past(a pretentious one at that!) Let me just ask you, MonkeyBoy: how trendy is RENNAISANCE PLACE these days? It's not! Theses residences have been dated for 25+ years and WILL NEVER fit into the developing urban fabric of downtown. Frank: How does the set back of the first proposal fit the 'historical' nature of the site? Just a thought, but I thank AXIS for putting out the design they probably submitted at first. Context is everything when it comes to good design. I hope mayor Ballard and his administration learned yet another lesson in designing for a WORLD CLASS CITY.
        • Beg to differ
          Micah, it appears Monkey Boy and I have touched a nerve, are you by chance on the design committee for Jiffy Lube? Speaking for myself, I was only voicing my personal reaction to the new design. I stand by my original comment, I find it cold and uninteresting, how is that being pretentious?? You like the new design, no problem, that's your opinion. If the 'Eurochrome' look is the wave of the future and is going to make Indy a WORLD CLASS CITY, time will tell. I don't suggest that the original design is the ultimate for this purpose. However, I do find it more appealing than the new one which, in my view takes us back to the 1950s (cold, the Jetsons look) which I also found to be uninteresting..just my opinion! Can't there be a happy medium of old and new? Meanwhile, suggest you switch to DECAF for awhile and at least be receptive to other views, even if different than your own.
        • thumbs down
          The new design is the ugliest firehouse I have ever seen. What an eyesore.
        • I agree with Frank
          I agree with Frank and Monkey Boy. What is innovative and sleek about a Lego building? This design has NO imagination and belongs in the same Lego block boring design portfolio of the City/County building. How many people honestly think the City/County building has aged well? The FD is a horribly simplistic design befitting a cheap 1970's cinder block look....This is just as boring as other "modern, sleek" designs such as City Way and is not far removed from the style of the current ugly Fire Station.
        • Love it
          I love the new design. The burbs can keep their oversized house design for fire departments, which began in the 90s. Having brick on the outside, does not make it nice. Just like having brick on the McMasions in in the burbs, doesn't make those nice or interesting architecture either. And as far as historically accurate for the area, Frank, I live one block from the new location in a place built in 1911. My place does not have the suburban brick look that you claim is historical for the area.
        • The Lesson
          As a colleague in the design community, I commend Axis and those in the City administration who allowed this design to come forward. I would never tell a fireman how to put out a fire - That's not my job. The fireman is the expert. In the same way, I hope this project provides a lesson in trusting our design professionals to do their jobs. Great work can come from local architects if they are challenged and given the freedom to execute. The above comparison to Jiffy Lube is small-minded and does not warrant a response. Lastly, a building should be of its time; Not of the past, not of the aesthetics of it's context, and not derived from the emotional crutch of nostalgia. This design is progressive and contributes to the positive growth of Indy. I challenge the City of Indianapolis to make this the standard for all of their future projects.
          • bricks for nostalgia sake
            Let me grab my Decaf coffee so Frank may understand why I do not care for the traditional, cookie cutter version...since I obviously struck a nerve. I believe the modern design is more interesting in many ways: 1. it suggests the design community in downtown is being progressive and putting actual thought into the design...rather than copying an engineered sample out of the 'book of McMansions for anywhere, USA' 2. this feels more appropriate for an urban setting 3. the modern design is more welcoming and open with glass and doesnt have an obvious facade, unlike the traditional design, which seems to be trying to hide something 'behind brick walls': how boring and pretentious does a building need to be? 4. the above statement coincides with a sense of security...i would feel more secure walking by the modern building at night. 5. the scale of the actual building is much better 6. although not a good example of mid century modern, this new proposal mimics the flat landscape of Indianapolis as the aforementioned style does. For the people who get off on historical representations for the sake of nostalgia: let our distinct historic areas and buildings remind us what's good from the past and let our design professionals help develop our built environment with diverse, forward thinking designs. What are you people trying to recreate? I've got news for you: IT CANNOT BE DONE! Why get stuck in the past over bricks for nostalgia sakes?
            • teresa?
              I was wondering if you have seen the fire station on MASS AVENUE?
              • sheesh!
                Just calm down a little. Micah, must you always SCREAM at people? I agree that my first thought of the modern design was of some kind of auto service center. Not thrilled with either design, but what is the problem with bricks?
              • Micah Please
                You say you want progressive design and not rely on the past for inspiration. But when presented with that at 333 Mass, you scream it looks like a cruise ship. In fact you were on a rant that all the buildings looked like cruise ships. Glad we are past that and I agree it does look like a fancy Jiffy Lube.
                • Hmmm
                  Wow, some of you need to calm down: I never said the fire station looked like a cruise ship. So, who's screaming here?
                  • bricks
                    Scott, I think you are missing my point with my previous brick statement. I have no problem with brick, but I do have a problem with the way brick is used for facade. If you look at buildings like the HINGE, Circa, or Trailside brick is used in a creative way, mixed with other materials while considering the scale of design. The brick used in buildings such as 333 MASS AVE & the new Barton Tower Wrap doesn't mean it's great or cutting edge architecture. I will always feel the last 2 buildings mentioned on Mass Ave were missed opportunities---especially with their high profile locations. They seem sterile and extremely institutional with a very poor street relation for pedestrians. I really do not think the bricks place these buildings above others just because they were constructed with brick. Massing is one thing, facade treatment and scale are another. I'm not screaming---this is just my opinion.
                  • A wonderful addition to downtown!
                    It is amazing what can be done when you commission good architects to design your buildings. Lets remember that this a city owned project that should say something about the importance we place on the built invironment.
                  • Liked the original
                    Guess I'm in the minority also here, but while the new design is certainly sleek and modern I kinda equate fire stations with tradition and friendliness. Which leads me to the original design. I can the point about it looking like the original design belongs in the suburbs, but there are a lot of brick structures here in the downtown. It's a personal preference. Neither right or wrong. But if the residents of the area didn't like it, then we should let them be heard in what their neighborhood should look like.
                  • Like it
                    Much better. Thanks Axis - and city too. As has been note, it's amazing what can be done when given a chance. Look forward to seeing it built.
                  • Not true
                    Not true! We are much more pleased with this design v.s. the prior design that looked like it belonged in Carmel. We are fifteen year residents of this neighborhood and are in favor of a contemporary/ modern design for our neighborhood. Keep moving forward. It's a good look if we have to have a busy fire house in our residential neighborhood.
                  • differences of opinion
                    This forum appears to be highlighting the difference between traditional vs. modern. I assume that either design will provide the functionality needed by the fire department. In the 1970's it was in vogue to use the Brutalism (raw concrete)"modern design" style. That "modern style" is not used in the design world today, at least that I am aware of. since it is a fire station, I am willing to believe that either design will allow the fire department to effectively fight fires and make emergency runs. I feel for Axis when Maria calls their original design "trash". It would be more appropriate to state that you do not like the design.
                  • big picture/world class
                    What a massive improvement! Let's not get away from how much better the new design fits with the existing Red Cross bldg. soon to become IFD HQ. The new design complements the current structure and gives the property/complex a cohesive look. Additionally, the flat roof allows for a roof top training area that was not an option with the previous plan. I believe this will be a tremendous addition to downtown and moreover a showcase for our World Class Fire Department! Thank you Axis for the creative and innovative design. This Firehouse & HQ complex will give our firefighters what they need to train, educate, work, and administrate the brave men and women that serve our city!
                    • Roof
                      Speaking of roofs. Downtown needs to limit or ban the construction of gables.
                      • gables
                        ....don't even get me started on gables and asphalt shingles.
                        • Watch out urban guy
                          You better watch what you talk about. There are people on this thread that seem ultra sensitive when sentimental elements like gables are frowned upon. Please, no screaming about gables, lol!
                        • Err what?
                          So basically we went from a fisher price toy fire station to some outdated 1960's school? This is hardly an improvement, only an appeal to faddishness.

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