Change in architects delays Red Cross building project

A change in architects for the design of the new Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis headquarters has set the project back by up to a year.

The not-for-profit unveiled plans last October for the $10 million headquarters to be built at 1510 N. Meridian St. as part of a larger city land-swap deal.

red cross building on meridian 225pxBut in March the Red Cross received a directive from the Washington, D.C., home office to reconsider the scope of the 40,000-square-foot headquarters, IBJ reported then.

What the Red Cross hasn’t divulged, until now, is that the organization also switched architects and is no longer using a local designer to lead the project.

Schmidt Associates in Indianapolis worked up the first design (shown in the rendering above) that’s since been scrapped. The firm is no longer involved in the project and has been replaced by Perkins+Will of Chicago. CSO Architects is serving as local architect.

“We paid for a substantial amount of work they had done on, let’s call it, the first draft,” local Red Cross CEO John Lyter said. “They were almost through the process to have it permitted to build.”

Wayne Schmidt, principal of Schmidt Associates, said that the firm was paid for its work on the project. "They decided to go with a national firm, and we're OK with that," he said.

Perkins+Will has performed work for the Red Cross nationally. The decision to re-evaluate design plans came amid a decision from the organization to streamline national operations and make them more uniform.

The result is that there’s still no final building design to present, Lyter said.

“I hope by the end of the month we’ll have the new renderings and make some real announcements, and have a ground-breaking,” Lyter said.

What’s more definite is that the building will be smaller, about 25,000 square feet, and won’t be constructed with a parking garage, as originally planned. Because parking likely will be off-site, the Red Cross no longer needs the entire 3.3 acres included in the original plans. The city is exploring options for the property remaining once the headquarters is built, Lyter said.

The scheduling setback for the project is just one of many delays so far for the city’s land-swap deal. The complex trade involves the Red Cross, the Indianapolis Fire Department's headquarters, the Indianapolis Firefighters Credit Union, and a new fire station.

The jockeying ultimately sets up construction of a five-story project with about 235 apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space on a 1.45-acre site at Massachusetts Avenue and New Jersey Street, to be vacated by the fire department's headquarters and credit union.

The fire department's headquarters is set to move into the existing Red Cross building at 441 E. 10th St. But the construction of a new fire station also to be built on the current Red Cross property has been slowed by unexpected delays related to sewer work.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission only approved the design of a new Indianapolis Firefighters Credit Union on Sept. 3, and parking issues related to the project on Massachusetts Avenue still linger. IHPC is set to address those next month.

The credit union would be built to the west of the existing Firefighters Union building at 748 Massachusetts Ave., near College Avenue.

Schmidt Associates remains the architect for the mixed-use development.

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