UIndy unveils new dorm

September 10, 2008
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                              of Indianapolis residence hallThe University of Indianapolis plans to break ground on a new $9-million residence hall, the campus' sixth, on Thursday. The four-story building designed by Design Collaborative of Fort Wayne is scheduled to open in Fall 2009. The University says the design calls for "autoclaved aerated concrete block, a 'green' product made from recycled material that is energy-efficient, fire-resistant and sound-dampening." Shiel Sexton is the general contractor for the building, which is planned for the north side of campus east of New Hall. What do you think?
  • Pretty, um.... straightforward... exactly what I'd expect to see on a university campus. Nothing of any relevance.
  • are you kidding me? I could have designed something better than this. im getting so tired of all these mediocre designs, until we start taking our architecture more seriously, we're going to be grouped with columbus ohio, and louisville kentucky, rather than a Nashville or Atlanta.
  • although I thought I read this was the new IUPUI dorm, I reread it and saw its Uindy. For UIndy, this should be a pretty nice building. lol
  • It could be better.
    What is with the random wall jetting out at the entrance?
    It looks ridiculous.
  • Pretty much the same ole, same ole from UINDY. Everything is red-brick buildings and none more than five floors. As someone that attends this school, it can be a bit drab. I hope this new dorm will include parking. Its next to impossible for students or employees to find a spot. Despite this, UINDY is an excellent institution.
  • Indy grouped with Louisville?! Indy could only in its wildest dreams EVER hope to be on the same level as Louisville architectually.
  • It's a dorm, people.... not the second coming of the Taj Mahal. The first person to post a link to an architecturally significant dorm (built within the last ten years) wins the right to keep complaining about this one.
  • My first impression was, blech. What is it with Indiana? Is it a requirement to an entirely boring mentality state? This building is yet again, just another ugly building of Indianapolis. Sadly, I miss the 90s, because the building boom actually promoted change and progressive ideas in terms of architecture. Each building built in downtown during the 90s as well as the ones in Keystone are different. So what if it is a dorm? That is not the point.
  • I like it. It looks like what it is--a dorm. The building is more interesting than some because of its different colors and textures. It doesn't have a lot of fru-fru stuff that costs more without adding to the functionality of the building. I appreciate that.

    I guess I'm old school because I want schools to look like schools, not architectural landmarks.
  • Looks like a hotel, but for this campus I think it is fine. I just hope those windows are able to be opened, unlike hotels.
  • I'm an '06 grad of UIndy in Poli Sci, and it's a fine school. New dorms will certainly attract some great students in...Curious though, are there any plans to renovate Good Hall? I spent a good portion of '03-'06 in that particular building and it always seemed like it was minutes from collapse. Fixing Good Hall should be priority No. 1. Hell, I'm a grad student now, so I don't have a lot of cash, but that's a project I wouldn't mind throwing down on.
  • It's a DORM people. As a student I would have been happy to live in such a building (and I was--Miami University is all 3 story red brick dorms and it's one of the most beautiful campus' in the US). Easy to maintain and a simple, clean looking structure. I'm sure they'd be willing to build something more architecturally challenging if everyone complaining would fork over the money.
  • calicali, too bad you put the 10-year qualifier in there. I once lived in an architecturally significant Saarinen-designed dorm, but it was built in the 60's.

    This appears to be a good, solid institutional building with green features. Good for UIndy.
  • calicali:


    State Street Village at the Illinois Institute of Technology, built 2003. It's really freaking cool, and I've been there so I can say from experience it is way better than the photos can show. Walking through it you understand that 'Village is not a misnomer; it's an urban housing typology that deals with a difficult noisy site (by the train tracks) and uses materials in an innovative way, as is appropriate for a technological school. It's visually interesting at all speeds (whether you're walking past it, driving past it, or in a train going past it), and reveals itself to be even more interesting as one moves through it. The distinction between site and building is malleable, and it uses different levels of opacity and transparence to remain engaging through multiple visits.

    The dorm above looks like a box in the middle of a parking lot. Wahoo.
  • It looks like a hotel.....or a medical building........nothing ground breaking. I've never been to this campus.........and I don't think most people visiting Indianapolis would visit this campus anyway........so as far as this being a reflection on the city or the state for that matter is a bit of a stretch.......not to mention this is a private school is it not? Our opinions mean little.......I do find the use of eco-materials to be refreshing though!
  • Sorry, I don't know how to post a link on Property Lines, but if you cut and paste it will work.
  • calicali:

    Simmons Hall, MIT, buy Steven Holl, 2004


    If you're a structural geek like me, you'll love the fact that the colors on the facade of the building represent the difference levels of force on the concrete frame at that point. Yummy.
  • calicali,

    Here are 2 sites with photos of an architecturally significant, beautiful PRISON in Austria:


    Here are more pictures of the the beautiful, architecturally significant, award-winning DORM designed by Steven Holl at M.I.T.:

  • Colleges and universities are notorious for adding fees like, technology, athletic, recreation, lab, parking, health... Can't wait for the Property Lines architecture satisfaction fee!
  • cali cali:

    One Western Avenue, Machado Silvetti, at Harvard, 2003


    I don't imagine a single person here will like THIS one, and besides it's graduate student housing, so maybe it doesn't count as just a dorm, so I won't say any more about it, except that it's bold.
  • Donna, MIT and U of I are not comparable. You do win the prize though.
  • Actually, I posted three architecturally significant dorms built in the last ten years, so I gift two of my complaining rights to other people - go for, guys!

    I have others in mind, a Kieran Timberlake project, and one at ASU that I thought Bruder did, but I really should get back to work.
  • Damn Donna, you got mad skills. Great examples...got anything else?
  • How about Thom mayne/Morphisis at UNiversity of Cincinatti, 2005?


    Now this is a totally amazing building: a student rec center with student housing above. It is intricately and successfully integrated into the whole campus (stadium, Tshcumi's Alumni Center, Moore Rubell Ydell's Student Services, Micahel Grave's Engineering building...and there's more) which was brilliantly masterplanned by Hargreaves Associates. I'd buy an apartment in this dorm if I could, the facility is stunning.
  • Nice to see some 'green' materials used.

    Other than that it is what it is. A dorm. Doesn't need to be some great piece of architecture. It will fit in with it's surroundings and the campus.
  • Another Morphosis:

    Graduate House, University of Toronto, 2000

  • Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis Boernhuetter Hall at College of Wooster, Ohio 2004, mmmmmmmmmmmmm. (Definitely not an Ivy league!)

  • An architecturally significant PRISON in Austria:

  • This one's in Europe, so I guess it doesn't count either - those Socialists, you know...;-)


    ablerock: Damn. That's amazing. I've visited regular housing projects in Austria that are far more transparent glass than any American I know would be comfortable with, but in a prison?! That's wild. I love it.
  • Um, have any of you lived/seen the dorms at IU???? Wilkie anyone? Teter? They are limestone communist-era dormitories.

    I think it is great that UIndy needs the space. Good to see all of their campaigns have worked and the student population on campus is expanding.
  • I'm fearful we're overloading the IBJ server, ablerock, both having posting problems!

    Here is one in Europe, so it probably doesn't count either, but it's gorgeous.


    And interesting: I once served on a selection committee for a new dorm competition at an Ivy League campus, and the best proposal included all these operable wood shutters to let students control the amount of light and air in their rooms. Of course the University balked, saying the shutters would be too much of a maintenance nightmare.

    Facilities departments really only want brick boxes - easier to maintain, you know.
  • As for that prison you posted, ablerock: damn. I've visited regular housing projects in Austria, apartments, that used FAR more transparency/glass than any American would feel comfortable with, but in a prison?! Wild, I love it.
  • Ok, just one more, then I'll stop. Since the UIndy dorm talks about LEED, here is a LEED Silver dorm, another Machado Silvetti, at ASU (Sun Devils, boo!), 2007.

  • Okay, I'm sorry, it's off the subject of this blog but I have to get it off my chest... if a prison ever looked like that in the U.S., I would be first in line to protest. A prison does not need to look fancy, nor do I want tax money paying for a prison to look fancy... all I want in a prison, is to keep the inmates locked in. And the only prison I know that people choose to visit, is not being used anymore (one guess, it's in Cali)... and I think people visit this for the history lesson and significance of the prison, not for it's architecture (but I may be wrong).

    As for the dorm issue, someone already mentioned it... but do you really want another fee or tuition to go up just to make a dorm look better? And another person already posted this... but has anyone seen IU's dorms... not really great to look at, but they serve their purpose. And, when I lived in a dorm... I didn't care what the outside looked like for two reasons... one, I made the inside (my unit) comfortable for me; and two, I was there for the most part to just sleep and shower... either at class, at the library or out with friends the rest of the time.

    In the end, I'm glad to see that the U of Indy needs another dorm... and therefore growing.
  • Oh, forgot to mention (if you haven't figured out)... my prison comment is because of the previous post showing a prison in Austria.
  • Common Sense, should a prison simply hold inmates like farm animals for a specified time, then return them to the outside world to commit more crimes, or should a prison attempt to rehabilitate inmates? This is what the glass prison is trying to do. I'm not saying I agree with this building, but I'm not willing to dismiss it out of hand as just some fancy box when it obviously is more than that.

    Similarly, should a dorm be a filing cabinet for students, or should it - like the academic institution itself - attempt to expand their minds to see possibilities they never before imagined?

    I will just never understand this It's good enough attitude about virtually single project I see posted on IBJ. Aspire, people, aspire!
  • Donna,
    It's not a, It's good enough attitude... it's called, There are better things to spend the money on attitude! The school can use the money elsewhere to expand on research, remodel the classrooms, etc. It's not what's on the outside that counts, it's what's on the inside.

    If resources (the monetary kind) were unlimited... I would agree with you... but resources are not unlimited.

    Think where you put your money... think before spending!!! Something a lot of people should be doing.
  • I still prefer more of a classic look...I don't need weird and modern. I admit that it is interesting, but I'd rather have my tuition money spent elsewhere.
  • Common Sense,

    First, good design does not equal more money. I encourage everyone here to delete that lie from their mind immediately. A tight budget is just another problem that a good designer must overcome in their search for the best possible solution.

    The UIndy Dorm looks like a N. Meridian McOffice building because UIndy did not demand more of the designers, not because of budgetary restraints.

    Second, Universities earn their money via tuition, no?

    It the highly competitive education market, it is arguable that schools can gain a edge by designing and building better dorms than their competitors. (To start, these would be dorms that do not treat their students like sardines.)

    Better, emotionally compelling places to live can attract more students to the school, which in turn would increase the revenue of said school to spend on their educational programs.

    As a student, why on earth would I want to spend 4 years and $40,000+ on the typically cramped dorm life, when another academically comparable university offers a beautiful, inspiring place to live and study?
  • LOL Donna...the Saarinen dorm I lived in is a brick box (with a huge interior atrium).
  • thundermutt, are you talking about the totally wonderful women's only dorm Hill House, with its drawbridge to keep men out and its mix of horizontal and vertical windows because some girls do, some girls don't?


    A brick box, indeed, in the absolute best possible use of that pragmatically poetic material! (And the atrium is so, so beautiful - makes me wish I had been a coed in the 60s!).
  • That's the one. It was coed by the 70's.

    Symbolism abounds: high iron picket fence surrounding an ivy moat, ironwork crown, and hawthorn trees lining the entry walk. One entered through a small door and passage, and then the huge atrium opened up inside. Maybe a symbolism overload...
  • Did it ever occur to you hand-wringing architectural metrosexuals that making this dorm a design wonder would likely have added to its cost, which would have borne by the students? We need more nose-picking Hoosiers in college than we do architectural statements. Save the design wonders for something downtown, where the skyline is most in need of creative design -- like that 1800s locomotive shed known as Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • I'm not slamming UIndy, in truth I know nothing about the school, but many top colleges right now are finding that to entice the best students to their campuses they have to invest in high quality architecture. A highly successful and grateful alumnus donor could pay for a great new dorm at no cost to students, thus inspiring more high quality students to attend, thus turning out the next generation of highly successful alumni.

    I'm interested in excellence, in every facet of life, not only architecture, and looking at short-term solutions is rarely the way to excellence.
  • I enjoyed all your comments today regarding modern architecture. In my opinion, we do not have enough in Indianapolis and Indiana. I am impressed by the comments from some of the regulars, thundermutt and Ablerock. I have often wondered if you two are architects. But as yahooLarry said, Donna, you do win the prize. Your knowledge of modern architect is great, and maybe your ability to surf the net quickly. I was not able to connect to all the web sites that were given but I have seen some of the ones I was able to connect to before. The prison is impressive. I think Donna's analysis was right-on. What is it they say about great design...it takes a great client. Maybe that is where we should start if we want Indianapolis architecture to be better. Please keep up the lively comments for some of us who don't write everyday. We still enjoy the blog.
  • color me free, I did know most of those dorms I posted, but I had help on a few of them from Archinect. If you like design talk, go there.

    And you are completely right: great architecture is impossible without a great client.
  • Hillbilly, the dorm I commented upon is basically a big concrete box with a brick face, terra cotta tile floors in the public areas and VCT in the halls and rooms. I think the residential hallways were painted concrete walls, perhaps with a white coat of plaster. It was built to last 100 years (this year is its 50th), which is high-value construction. The point is, such utility doesn't have to be ugly or inelegant.

    Conversely, good architecture and good design do not necessarily equate to expensive construction or high occupancy costs.On that same college campus is a Louis Kahn-designed lab building that is a beautiful nightmare.

    color me free, I am not an architect.
  • Sorry for the unclear post above, which doesn't make sense on re-reading.

    I should have left off the word conversely and written Good architecture and good design do not necessarily equate to expensive construction or high occupancy costs, but on that same college campus is a Louis Kahn-designed lab building that IS a beautiful nightmare.
  • Good analysis Donna. Perhaps you should consider teaching.

    I am really disappointed to find out that thundermutt did not go to the Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne. When he commented that he lived in a Saarinen designed dorm I jumped to that conclusion.
  • Isn't this building too tall to be on a college campus? It must be at least 50 feet tall. College campuses should be quiet, peaceful places where people can reflect on their learnings without being subjected to the imposing mass of tall 4 and 5-story structures. Isn't that reflected in the zoning ordinance for university districts?
  • Tom Tom, are you trying to be sarcastic (if so, it's falling flat) or are you just clueless? Many, many universities have highrise dorms, which would make this proposed dorm look like a short, squat little building.

    Also, how the heck is a 4-story building imposing or in anyway counter to the learning mission of a university?

    And, finally, if you are being serious, the answer to your question is no. There is no zoning rule for the University of Indy campus which says they can't build a 4-story building.

    In any event, if there are any aspects of the building which should be improved, it would have to do with the design and massing of the building, not its height.
  • Actually...


    (f) University Quarter District development standards.
    (1) Development standards - UQ-1 District uses.
    a. Setback lines and minimum yards.
    1. Setback line and minimum front yard: Yards, having a
    minimum depth in accordance with the setback requirements of
    section 731-221(a) of this Code, shall be provided along all street
    right-of-way lines.
    2. Minimum side and rear yards: Fifteen (15) feet or one (1) foot
    for each foot of building height, whichever is greater.
    b. Maximum building area. Building area (as defined in section 731-102
    of this Code) shall not exceed forty (40) percent of the lot area.
    c. Maximum height. Thirty-five (35) feet.
    • Low Rents
      The building price is driven by the rents that its residents pay. Indianapolis has very inexpensive housing, for a large US metro area, and this limits the budget for designing and building a fancy building or dorm. MIT, Harvard, Illinois Tech are all in expensive metro areas and charge much more for housing than UIndy. Kudos to UIndy for trying to provide an affordable education and affordable housing for its students.

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    1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

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