Clarian's new buildings: Thumbs up or down?

October 15, 2010
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Neurosciences CenterThe 16th Street corridor near Capitol Avenue will be getting a brand-new look in the next few years Clarian Administrative Buildingsas Clarian and Shiel Sexton partner on a development expected to cost about $192 million. We've been reporting details of the planned new administrative complex and neurosciences center since January, most recently in a story on Thursday. But let's have a discussion about the architecture. Cannon Design of New York worked on the neuroscience building (above), while the administrative buildings were designed by locally based CSO Architects. Are the buildings appropriately urban? Any suggestions for improvement? Click either image for a larger version.

  • Prefer College Campus Look & Feel
    The problem with Clarian is that its campus looks like what it is.

    A collection of mismatched buildings and expansions that don't fit together well.

    They have been fighting with IU for decades over the properties between their two campuses.

    I would like to see a plot plan with buildings that makes sense together after this many years of expansion planning.
  • Long Term Plan
    IU decided long ago to go with limestone on its campuses.

    Purdue decided long ago to go with brick on its campuses.

    Still trying to understand where Claian & Methodist are going with design.

    Suggest they follow IU's lead since their Indianaolis campuses will be joined at some point.
  • getting closer
    I applaud the (perceived) effort to create expressive, bold architecture with the Neurosciences Center.

    But this is not quite world-class design. On first glance, the gesture of the curved west facade is diminished by the schizophrenic north facade. The same facade lifts its first floor away from the sidewalk, which I can't support.

    Overall, I choose to see it as a small step forward for architecture in downtown Indy because it's trying to be something more than just an office building. The way it will interact with the interstate should be very interesting, for example. I look forward to seeing that.

    The Clarian Administration building, on the other hand, is unremarkable and unoffensive. But it also "does no harm," which is the least we can ask for in Indianapolis. It appears to engage the streetscape appropriately, which is another small victory for Indy.
  • Do Over
    Please reconsider these designs. I don't want to have to drive past these every day. Stick with limestone since you're going to begin using IU for marketing purposes.
  • Not enough information
    I don't think anyone can intelligently comment with more information. I've only seen 2 renderings that don't reveal much. If you want to start a meaningful discussion publish site plans and more renderings.
    • Thumbs Sideways?
      The neurosciences building is an attempt, but I think it falls short. The color scheme make me think of all the office buildings built in the 60s and 70s, but not in a good way. I also don't see how it relates to anthing else near there and I agree it doesn't seem to embrace the pedestrian on the ground floor.

      I guess I'm just looking for some harmony and an appears of a "plan".

      The Admin building at least looks like it belongs to Methodist and has made the attempt to address the pedestrian more. While not ground breaking, it does make sense in colors & materials. At the end of the day, it looks like what it is - an office building.

    • Response to Bob
      Assuming you mean't to say "without more information" I completely agree with Bob.
    • Never Happen
      I like the curved facade, but I guarantee that when it gets to design and construction, the budget for a giant curved glass facade will far exceed expectations. And the other facade looks like its directly from 1968.
    • design
      I prefer howard's over peter's design.
      • Both Buildings are Ugly
        The curved roof building is incredibly ugly and does not fit with the rest of the campus. The office building is very plain and not very interesting. I agree with Nick, I would like to see a plot plan with buildings that makes sense together.
      • Eh
        The Methodist office building fits in with it's campus since they use a lot of yellow brick and stainless in their expansions. I will have to see other sides of the Neurosciences building before I can form an opion, but I agree with others, that it appears to not engage on the street level side.
      • Urban Indy
        Bob Kennedy -- we've got the siteplans and lots more renderings over on Urban Indy (they've actually been there since mid Sept.):
      • Nice reference
        Love the Fountainhead reference, although I'm not sure Howard Roark would be fond of either.
      • Contemporary Design
        The design will look impressive from the interstate, but it won't do much to activate the nearby streetscapes. The parking garage takes too prominent a role on the corner spot. They could keep the bold design elements and still make this project much better.
      • Green?
        I think the most important factor shouldn't be the progressiveness of the facade but the progressiveness of the building in terms of energy efficiency and patient comfort.

        It pains me to drive past the IFD No. 5 building and all of its brick and to think that all that will be landfilled and not reused on site (or will it - I don't honestly know).

        If this building isn't as green as possible, then I will consider it a complete failure. Plus, green buildings (because of air quality improvements, daylighting and other details) typically translates to happier patients and a happier patient is a patient on his/her way to recovery.

        p.s. - A green building doesn't have to cost more than a conventional building. That's a poor excuse for the uncreative designer/engineer/builder.
      • hey wait a mintue
        did I miss any similar discussion about Wishard
      • neuroscience?
        How did the idea of a building with two differing but completely complimentary halves (hemispheres) escape the design committee that put this design together?
        • Design
          That made me laugh and went over right over the rest of the audience. Thanks!
        • Wow.orWow!
          Are these buildings a 'wow.' or a 'WOW!'?

          First I would like to disagree with the comment above about releasing more detailed plans. By the time you get to that point, you have spent a considerable amount of money, and it is difficult to scrap the plan and start over. These are conceptual designs which is a necessary step to get to where you end up. These renderings are to solicit feedback to adjust now rather than later.

          As for the designs, I think they both fall short.

          From a broad view, the neuroscience building is what I would expect from a NY designer, but does not fit the campus or regional architecture. Dark and gray which works in the concrete and asphalt filled NYC, but not in the natural earthtone colors of the midwest. The Admin building is a typical CSO design - very conservative (but likely a very efficient layout) without much pizzaz.

          Looking a little deeper, the neuroscience building has several very costly features designed into it: 1) the compound curved curtainwall, 2) the cantilevered first floor, 3) the 'whatever it is' on the West facade that looks like parking garage fall protection, 4) the cantilevered point, 5) exposed structural members on the exterior (watch out for expansion/contraction and moisture issues), and 6) material selection (lots of metal panels, stainless steel, and curtainwall).

          The Admin building would be very economical to build (if they are using storefront at each floor level in lieu of curtainwall with glazed-in metal panels). One question is if the curtainwall is on a cantelevered slab. If so, they may want to rethink this especially at the roof. They would need to conceptualize their column locations to make this work. Overall, there is room for improvement to create more architectural interest, but at least the color pallete is more in line with the region.
        • Differing Designs
          I whole-heartedly agree with your comment about the differing designs. This is what happens when you don't engage the master planner or give some early guidance to the design teams.
        • Wrong
          I reject the idea that our region should stay boring since it already is. The historic architecture in this city broke with the regional context of log forts and deerhide roofs when it was built.

          Also, the idea that the Midwest should be made up of earthtones is ridiculous. Not all of us want the whole world to use "bungalow colors" as a regional palette.
        • Another Jem From Cannon!

          My name is Christopher. I'm a member of a Firm that specializes in Building Envelope Design and Engineering. We'll be bidding on this project shortly, and I got to have just a quick glance at the architectural drawings for it yesterday. I look forward to studying them in earnest, but would like to contribute to some topics that your discussions are forming, today. I've worked with Cannon Design before and at 1st glance this looks to be another well thoughtout space and facade. There are many features and cues on the exterior of this building that are accutely reminiscent of Cannon's succesful Univerity Hospital's Case Medical Cancer Center in Cleveland, particularly the sweeping North walls and purposeful use of sunlight and green features. I would encourage everybody to see that project on Cannon's website here: , and google some images. They do have offices in 17-ish or so cities here and abroad...they're not just 'a NY firm' as was suggested above. My team and I provided the shop-drawings, fabrication-drawings, and Engineering for UH's aluminum/glass and limestone curtain wall systems and sloping sky-light facades, as well as the All-glass entrance vestibules that comprised the whole of UH's building envelope. I'll just compare and contrast based on that project for now, as I can see many encouraging similarities between the two. I will try to make time to update my statements here, specifically for the Clarian-specific points, after I've had a chance to do my due diligence with the arch's.

          Like that building, I expect that this one too will apply for our LEED certification. Low-Emisivity glazing in thermally-broken and weathertight systems, along with calculated sunlit interior spaces and deliberately placed curved sunshading... Also like UH, this building may use a rain-water-leader irrigation system for it's gardens and green spaces. Any concerns about 'green' did look at my glance to have been considered and responsibly addressed. I predict it will be an environmental performer.

          Clarian's footprint executes well with it's surroundings. I look forward to looking further into it's interior intent. The exterior ties in with the better parts of the medical compound's family of buildings, if you look from the right perspective and if you take the whole surrounding area into account. You can't see the impact of the arcing northwestern-elevated pespective from just the renderings, but I think the setting sun in the west is really going to be appealing inside and out. This building, again like UH, drew comments from online commenters that expressed concern about blending in with neighboring environs and community, and in my opinion this one too, achieves.

          The north wall:
          I can't even begin to describe how extremely challenging and rewarding those compound dyhedral angles and sweeps are to accurately physically create. Those shapes will cross your eyes and make your calculator ask you for an asprin, and the fabricators, glazers, and installers that actualize the final on-site product are true craftsmen with a high gray-matter ratio that should be appreciated. If you compare this design to UH you can see right away the multible different systems, at diffent depths 'horseshoe-ing" near the north's mid-point. What is difficult to see in the Clarion rendering, or perhaps was a change of design after the rendering was published, is that this one also slopes inward at it's center, giving a much larger arc in plan at the roof, than at the foundation. Combined with that outward-sloping NE corner, this one is really pushing some boundaries. UH has curves in plan and elevation, but does run vertically plumb from base to top. This Clarian design adds an additional axis-dimension that I'll really have to look at closely. There were comments above referring to the use of a storefront system in lieu of a curtain wall for this project. For one thing, there is no such thing as a monolithic storefront system. Storefront is punched-opening oriented and couldn't possibly meet performance or versitility challenges and constraints that only a custom system provides. However, you do bring up a good point, particularly for this north area. Two of the primary benefits of a unitized curtain wall are the higher level of quality control you can achieve upfront in design and in-shop, ahead of time, and faster/less intensive field-labor effort and cost during installation. But, those compound arcs may mean that a field-glazed custom 'stick-built' system will have to be used at that particular area because different shaped dies, extrusions, shop-operations, jigs/fixtures, etc...would have to be made for every different slope at every different transition. No two units would be the same if this shape doesnt share a sloping angle anywhere. ...very intriguing, and probably will be the focus for the most investigation and head-scratching/planning.

          The use of floating bent vertical mullions and compontents on the east facade in that very deliberate pattern, to me, are remindful of the building's defining purpose; housing Neuroscience. It's really a creative image of an electro-chemical wave-like pattern, as is the waving west wall in plan view. ...again, something to look at closer. UH Cancer Center's soothing demenor has been adapted here with an eye towards synapse. I think it's neat.

          I expect this building will be a jewel.


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        1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

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