From Lucas Oil Stadium, Convention Center expansion has an industrial look

August 27, 2010
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Convention CenterThe view of the expanded Indiana Convention Center from Lucas Oil Stadium caught several Colts fans off guard after the team's first preseason game on Aug. 15. From the north steps of the stadium, you can see a block-wide expanse of aluminum siding, giving the convention center a decidedly industrial look. (Click on the image for a larger view.) Blogger Curt Ailes wrote on the Urban Indy blog that it looks like an auto-parts plant. "Is this the face that we want to show to the people who will be attending the Super Bowl here in 2012?" Ailes wrote. "Granted, there is plenty of good looking skyline, but a two block long corrugated aluminum wall is going to detract from that." The design is as intended, arranged to accomodate loading docks and other back-of-house functions, said David Sease, a spokesman for the Indiana Stadium and Convention Authority. "Originally, the design allowed for exposed mechanical units along the length of the building, but we were able to fund enclosures around them to further refine the space," Sease wrote in an e-mail. "The ISCBA believes that compared to other loading docks and back-of-house spaces in town, this looks good, and will become invisible when looking out of Lucas Oil Stadium at the Indianapolis skyline." That won't be encouraging news for Ailes and other commenters on the Urban Indy blog. What do you think? (Photo: Curt Ailes)

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  • okay....
    So, it will fit right in with the atrociously designed and out-of-scale Lucas Oil Stadium? What more does anyone expect from Indianapolis? This is the same city that took a masterpiece of greek revival architecture and attached a big ugly curtainwall "thing" to the back of it (the library, for those of you who didn't immediately know what I was talking about).
    Indy is about as progressive in its architecture as its cops are respected...very little.
    • How 'Bout Blue?
      At the VERY least they could've at least painted it Colts blue. While it may not have improved the aesthetics by very much it would've at least been respectable. Especially when viewing it from LOS. Seriously though, how hard is it to design actual 360 buildings that look good from all angles. As opposed to looking great from two angles, I'd rather them just look "good" from all four. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this for the southern part of the skyline to look like a suburban industrial park. Pitiful!

      PS how about murals painted by local artists or students to showcase their art for Indy? Are you listening ICC? I doubt it.
    • Wow
      Wow, that looks really awful to say the least. Who was the architect??
    • Someday
      Well, someday hopefully we'll have a mixed-use building across the street from the stadium full of sports bars and shops that will block the view...
    • Mandalay Industries
      So, IndyArchitect - which cutting edge buildings have you designed for the city?
    • Now wait a minute...
      Well I for one will stick up for the "curtain wall" at the library -- and I'm a preservationist. While I am not a fan of the side elevations of the addition, I believe the dead-on view from the Mall is fantastic. Indeed, it DOES serve as a curtain - a backdrop showcasing/protecting the original library. It's about as selfless a design as I think could be imagined. Now, if the argument you make is that there should have been no addition, no enlargement, no alteration to increase its functionality... that's another point entirely.
    • blank canvas
      geez, it is pretty ugly.

      But it also looks like something begging for a bit of adornment. It would be soooooo great to commission an artist to paint something lovely on it. It could end up being something on a visitor's brochure if it ended up pretty enough.
    • WAKE UP PLANNERS OR PLEASE QUIT
      How in the hell do we spend tens and hundreds of millions building eye sores in our city. Wake up planners and do your job...this is getting really embarrassing for those of us who pay for it. The library is a joke and now the look of the convention center is pathetic. It looks like the tax payers foot the bill and the design and architectural approval is left to a 4th grade art contest.
    • I'm with Joe
      I happen to like the library addition, inside and out. You can't please everyone, as proven each day on these forums.
    • not so fast
      There is a big ol' dirt lot between LOS and the Convention Center. What is the plan for that space? That will make a difference if it becomes attractive mall, landscaping or even other buildings like restaurants, bars etc.? Looks to me like you are seeing the unattractive face in the back that is supposed to be hidden by other things.
    • Patio Door
      Cory, I think the comment on Urban Indy was "...and this is the VIEW FROM the World's Largest Patio Door".
      ---
      JoeAccounting, that dirt lot will become a paved parking lot. And it, too, has an ugly (rust colored) corrugated-metal retaining wall along the RR embankment.
      ---
      I think that long wall could have been improved very cheaply and easily with varying the color and texture and direction of the siding as was done in the first 50-100 feet (at right).

      Of course, what's there will only be seen by tens of thousands of people looking out the stadium windows and millions more on TV.

      For a PR guy, Mr. Sease sure messed up on this one when he pulled a page from the BP CEO playbook and told us "little people" that we're wrong, and to look at something else instead.

      Repeat after me, Mr. Sease: "I agree with the commenters, it certainly doesn't look very nice from the stadium. We'll see what we can do before 2012."
    • Patio door
      Thundermutt: You are correct. I was reading through the comments too quickly. I removed the reference in the post, but it is still available at UrbanIndy.com if anyone wants to check it out.
    • whatever
      So there's a big open area between the new addition and Lucas Oil. Someday something will be built there. Besides, Colts fans are all from the suburbs anyway, so they don't care. Also, I liked the library addition, but then I'm just a human being and not an Architect.
    • Wrong impressions
      If the goal was to keep it assessible for the loading docks and easy access, there would be a mighty narrow building in front if one were to be build. My guess would be there is currently nothing in the works. Agreed that it does look horrible. It was supposed to look modern-hip but it looks old-industrial. Good point on the SuperBowl. There will be a lot of people looking and getting the wrong impression of Indy.
    • Other loading docks?
      Most other loading docks around downtown are either in alley ways or concealed by neighboring buildings. While he may have a point that it looks better than others, that still doesn't make it "good"

      Thanks for the nod Cory
    • The Wall
      Ok so lets look at another bad design that won city planning approval. The west facing wall of the JW Mariott Ball room wing. 70% solid/blank concrete not even painted a darker color so it would be less in your face. And it faces a city jewel...White River State park. Sure bet visitor know there not in Denver/Portland when the see the Indianapolis blank designs.
    • IRONY
      This what most of Indiana is. we put out a good front and welcoming smile (hoosier hospitality) but the truth is when seen from another angle we are just plain boring and lack substance. no wonder there is a brain drain and lack of interest from the business to move here. once they find out we are like this building they don't want to look at us either.
    • Ugh
      Hopefully it isn't finished yet!
    • nonya
      @nonya: None of them. And, I'll be honest, not ALL contemporary in the city is terrible. Though I do not like its location, the Simon's building is a pretty decent looking building. New housing/retail developments are looking great. Furthermore, Circle Centre (though mostly an interior building) is a great piece of architecture, reusing some pre-existing storefront and adding a little of contemp. flair with the Arts Garden.
      Thankfully, Indy also has a lot of great older and historic architecture. We are not a city of poor architecture, per se. We are just a city with a poor architectural imagination.

      And yes, I really do despise what was done to the library. I don't expect everyone (or anyone) to agree with me. It's a big glass box attached to a wonderful piece of architecture...exciting...
    • the library
      So enlighten us, IndyArchitect; what would you have proposed as a better design for the library addition. I think it does a great job of not detracting from the stars (the Mall and the original building), and by reflecting the sky, making the Mall seem even more expansive. I'd call it a success and something more (egocentric) architects should strive for.
    • A couple of things...
      1. I think this wall is rather ugly, but can't imagine they won't have some sort of solution in place by the time the Super Bowl rolls into town.

      2. I think the addition to the library is beautiful, especially at night. And they way it serves as a bvackdrop to the American Legion Mall is very eye-catching.

      3. As architecturally boring as some of you apparently think Indy is, we still have a downtown that is the envy of many other cities across the country. And with all the parking lots beggin to be "in-filled" there is plenty of opportunity for statement architecture.
    • A couple of things...
      1. I think this wall is rather ugly, but can't imagine they won't have some sort of solution in place by the time the Super Bowl rolls into town.

      2. I think the addition to the library is beautiful, especially at night. And they way it serves as a bvackdrop to the American Legion Mall is very eye-catching.

      3. As architecturally boring as some of you apparently think Indy is, we still have a downtown that is the envy of many other cities across the country. And with all the parking lots beggin to be "in-filled" there is plenty of opportunity for statement architecture.
    • Not Detracting?
      I would say the exact opposite. I would say that it 100% detracts from the "stars"...
      The original 1917 Cret building, which is on the NRHP is only now an afterthought.
      Regardless SCUB, I didn't realize this article was about the library. Are you suggesting that Indianapolis has great contemporary architecture? Does this story reflect that?
    • aluminum overload
      I am sure there will be huge tents set up on the open lot north of LOS for the major Super Bowl sponsors - so in the view from the street, those structures will vlock the view of the ugly aluminum wall. Probably within another 5 - 10 years, the next expansion of the Conv. Center will take place and a new, attractive addition will be built along South Street. The aluminum will then be gone. The other very unfortunate thing is the two block long, equally ugly aluminum wall that was put up on the back of the Union Station train shed. With that ugly aluminum, there is now a four block long ugly aluminum wall -- all the way from Missouri St. to Meridian. Hopefully that ugly wall will disappear when a new multimodal transit center is built along South Street, connected to Union Station.
    • looks good from the front
      Looks good from the front? This is the architectural equivalent of a mullet.
    • Accountability???
      Remember when Bart Peterson told us that we needed to tear down the RCA Dome to make way for a expanded convention center which was needed to keep large conventions in town and by the way the Colts will need a new home?

      Guess what, $750 million of a $1 Billion budget was spent on Lucas Oil causing the original plan to delete a ballroom, support beams & foundation to be undersized for future expansion, carpet,lighting,& wall finish upgrades to old section of convention center to be postponed.

      Heck, Lucas Oil operating expenses have bankrupted the CIB, yet they shuffle $30 million of state bailout funding to the Pacers to seal thier coffin.

      Yet Bart and Fred have been doing well and Greg Ballard is just following the same path.

      We deserve much better!
    • Blank Canvas
      Looks like Sports Graphics will get nice contract to cover this area for Super Bowl.
    • Look closer at the pictures
      All this moaning and groaning and nobody has really looked at the 2 pics posted here or the 3 on the urbanindy website. Lets see, two One America towers spaced way apart and in the 3 pic version duplicate Marriott towers. Push the pics together to eliminate the duplicated wall area and half the "problem" goes away. That doesn't excuse the dull siding that's left and it should be fixed but don't get so bent out of shape over bad pictures.
      • Bad pictures?
        Awe,cmon they arent THAT bad ;-) I took them on a whim with a crappy camera and couldnt assemble them properly. Probably could have been better, but its still a lot of open wall space. I dont think that gets lost in all this.
      • SCrUB
        Seriously? Spaz much, SCrUBAchef? I brought it up to make another point. You just went after that point.

        My point stands. It's an opinion. I hope you can handle that. Don't give yourself a coronary!
      • Can't believe..
        I do agree fully with IndyArchitect regarding the Library addition: bad suburban office park grafted onto neoclassical. (But then again I'm a fan of Philadelphia & Penn architects generally: Cret, Furness, Venturi + Scott-Brown.)

        It would have been easy to incorporate the curtain wall and atrium features into a Library addition with a more classic skin that was properly squared up to Meridian and Penn...

        Just as it would have been easy to vary the color and pattern on the south facade of the Convention Center addition.
      • Different Worlds
        If you think the new condos around downtown are great and the library addition isn't, then you are an idiot, period.
      • Shouldn't Have Said That
        I take it back - no one's an idiot (except me for posting such a rude comment). I apologize for saying that - I tend to forget this blog isn't just for architects.
      • Indy "architects"
        Fortunately for us, many of the most opinionated so-called "architects" on this blog apparently spend more time crafting witty retorts than actually designing buildings we have to endure. We thank you for that; keep up the good "work".
      • Possible Future Expansion can occur....
        OK here is something I had heard and saw a high level drawing 16 months ago. I apologize if someone mention this in the comments already so here it goes... First There will more than likely be another convention center expansion...(obviously based on the demand and economy) How??? Well in an unlikely place if you don't know the site plan. The convention center isn't as land land locked as you may think. Remember the Senate Street Bridge that you could walk under the tracks to go to the RCA dome? Well that bridge is still there supporting the existing tracks with just a dead end now to the new center expansion. There is a vision to build on the large tract of land south of the tracks. The expansion of approximately 130,000 Sq ft. of open convention space with 60,000 of meeting space with 40,000 of pre-function space. Based on the drawing I saw. There will be a nice south facing entrance to the stadium and will incorporate to the existing cube entrance to the tunnel that is in place now. The entire conv. center and the new expansion is at street level and the Senate Street bridge is also at street level and it is nearly 60 feet wide and 16 to 18 feet high. It makes a great connector from one big convention space to a potential new one. Any new expansion will be several years out based on the economy and demand. I'll look for the graphic and figure out where to post it.
      • Possible Future Expansion can occur....
        OK here is something I had heard and saw a high level drawing 16 months ago. I apologize if someone mention this in the comments already so here it goes... First There will more than likely be another convention center expansion...(obviously based on the demand and economy) How??? Well in an unlikely place if you don't know the site plan. The convention center isn't as land land locked as you may think. Remember the Senate Street Bridge that you could walk under the tracks to go to the RCA dome? Well that bridge is still there supporting the existing tracks with just a dead end now to the new center expansion. There is a vision to build on the large tract of land south of the tracks. The expansion of approximately 130,000 Sq ft. of open convention space with 60,000 of meeting space with 40,000 of pre-function space. Based on the drawing I saw. There will be a nice south facing entrance to the stadium and will incorporate to the existing cube entrance to the tunnel that is in place now. The entire conv. center and the new expansion is at street level and the Senate Street bridge is also at street level and it is nearly 60 feet wide and 16 to 18 feet high. It makes a great connector from one big convention space to a potential new one. Any new expansion will be several years out based on the economy and demand. I'll look for the graphic and figure out where to post it.
      • waste of space
        So the convention center doesn't look very artistic if you catch a glimpse of it's backside while looking at it from the steps of the stadium.

        Why is this a big deal? It's a loading dock. If a bunch of extra money would have been spent to beautify that area, a legitimate story could have been told about how taxpayer dollars were wasted to beautify a lousy loading dock.
      • Thanks
        Thank you for bringing more attention to this, Cory.

        This facade is especially appalling because it's so large, and it's not isolated. It's actually an extension. Let's not forget about the already-existing wall of beige corrugated siding that covers the back of Union Station's train shed. Or the towering wall of red siding that covers the east side of the steam plant.

        Combine the three facades (Make no mistake, it's a continuous facade bisected only by Capitol Ave and West St.) and we've got 2,000+ feet of aluminum siding stretching from the Convention Center's end at West St, to the east end of Union Station's train shed at Meridian St. And it's all elevated above street level for everyone to see.

        That's almost a half-mile of highly-visible corrugated aluminum siding slicing right through the heart of our most-visited district. (It's practically the living room of our city.) This isn't a hidden loading-dock. This is front and center visibility we're talking about.

        Bottom-line: the siding looks like a warehouse, factory, barn, or a cheap backyard shed. It's not communicating the right message about our blossoming downtown. And it's screaming pretty loudly.

        Not a good look for Indianapolis folks, not a good look at all.
      • SCUBA
        SCUBA, good job scolding people about their witty retorts by posting one yourself. What have you built sir?

        Unfortunately, almost all convention centers and train houses are in actuality sheds, barns, and warehouses. You can see this in many great cities.

        That said, ours in this spot have become very visible based on what's going on. This area is in slow transition, so it won't always look this way, but some steps could be taken to soften the edge in the meantime. I don't normally like to just hide the reality of what buildings are, but this is a pretty harsh thing that could be softened.
      • Wondering...
        I'm just wondering how these really terrific designers manage to have so much time to sit around and critique the building designs of Indy?

        I also enjoy all of the folks who ask what buildings each of these designers has designed...there never seems to be a response?

        Am sorry, I really tried not to post, but...it just is rather frustrating having to hear these same folks complain, and nit-pick...and typically have very little ability to find any positive value in anything that is constructed (at least if they're not the ones who have designed it)!

        It makes you wonder whether one of their designs has been nit-picked, and they're just trying to lash out at the world...by pointing out that there is really not much out there that is nearly as perfect as them?
        • -
          DanceCommander,

          I disagree that "almost all convention centers and train houses are in actuality sheds, barns, and warehouses."

          They're not. Using that logic (large open space + shelter + storage = shed, barn, warehouse), one could apply those labels to most manmade structures. And, if I read you correctly, use that logic to excuse the poor aesthetics of any building.

          Is our Central Library a warehouse? Is Lucas Oil Stadium a shed? Is Circle Centre Mall a barn? Your line of reasoning says yes.

          Obviously, structural definition is more complex than that.

          The convention center and train station may have similar functions to warehouses or sheds: they do have large open spaces and sheltering principals. But convention centers and train stations are also public spaces. They are places of commerce, transportation, communication, and connectivity. They are two of the most-frequented public structure-types humans build. They're structures that attract many visitors in any city. And like airports, they are the buildings that create those all-important first impressions.

          All that to say: Their functions as high-traffic, high-visibility, and visitor-oriented structures, in central, front-door locations dictate that their aesthetics be of the highest priority.

          (Besides, why is it ok to accept unattractive, banal warehouses, barns, and sheds?)
        • -
          WTF,

          I am not an architect, but I care passionately about the built environment in Indy.

          I am a graphic designer. (A small sampling of my work can be viewed at www.ablerock.net)

          Some of you are asserting that others have no right to critique these structures because they don't build things or design them.

          So I ask in return:

          Do you have the right to critique a movie though you've never made one professionally?

          Do you have the right to critique a meal at a restaurant if you've never cooked for a living?

          Do you have the right to critique a book if you're not an author?

          Do you have the right to critique the government and politicians if you've never worked for the public?

          Do you have the right to critique coaches and players if you've never played professional sports?

          -

          It's completely reasonable for us to love our city, be vocal about the poor designs we see here, and to critique and discuss them on this real estate and development blog.

          We care about our city and its quality. Do you?
        • Give me example
          Ablerock, you read me quite incorrectly - I didn't say that I think its fine for them to be hideous, especially in downtowns - but, many convention centers are treated as 3 sides blank, one side decorated with one entrance in the middle

          You, of course, are right that people use them, which is a big distinction.

          I am stating that it is a big problem, especially as cities are having more and more massive shells built to hold suburban or visiting masses.

          I wouldn't care as much if a building were built right against it anyway, like say in Pittsburgh.

          And sheds don't have to be ugly - see that Fairgrounds.

          Peter Eisenman took a legitimate look at them in Columbus - its still just siding, and three dead sides with an entrance side, but at least the "dead" sides are part of the overall thought.

          And no, the library, lucas oil, and the mall are not sheds - they are just big. Though the mall is made up very much of huge decorated walls that really have nothing to do with the shopping inside. I think it depends on how the space is dealt with.
        • Yep
          As much as I dig your input ablerock, I'm with DanceCommander on this one. The convention center (and most) ARE technically just great big - and usually - gussied up barns / sheds. Train stations are even often referred to as "sheds" in some parts. And the comparison of the mall, Central Library and LOS to barns/sheds in the same way as the Convention Center is faulty, at best.

          I completely agree with you on the right of anyone to express their opinion, however.
        • Sober cops and panhandlers
          Seriously people. Super Bowl attendees are going to spend 2K+ for a ticket to the game. Doubt that many will stare out the window contemplating the a$$ end of the convention center.
          The real concern needs to be will the cops be sober and will the administration see to it that the dozens of panhandlers in the Mile Sqaure are somewhere else. Those types of things create impressions...

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        1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

        2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

        3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

        4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

        5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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