Moody Nolan Blends Arts and Sciences Programs from Two Institutions in New IU Northwest Building
On one end of the new $45 million Arts and Sciences Building on the campus of Indiana University (IU) Northwest in Gary, Indiana, you'll find a grand, 500-seat theater and a myriad of studios for IU's performing and fine arts students. At the other end, students from Ivy Tech Community College Northwest will learn in state-of-the-art science labs.
Yet designing for these very different programs and maintaining the individual identities of the two institutions didn't even pose the biggest dilemma for the project. "The harder challenge was the in-between spaces - the general classrooms and faculty offices - and figuring out how they worked in and cohabitated well," said Jonathan Moody, Lead Designer for Moody"¢Nolan, Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio. "We had to design with flexibility in mind."
After the IU Board of Trustees approved design plans in 2014, General Contractor Gariup Construction of Gary broke ground in June 2015. The three-story, 135,000-square-foot academic building will open for classes starting with the fall semester.
Flexible Across Time and Uses
In designing the new building, "We talked a lot about left brain vs. right brain people," Moody said. "On the IU side, they had the more artistic, creative groups, but they also had a large portion of faculty and some of the more right brain, analytical, and science people. Ivy Tech was more geared toward the science side, but in each organization there was a comingling between types of users."
To overcome that obstacle, "There were a lot of collaborative work sessions and lots of drilling into the deeper questions," Moody added. "When someone said they needed this general classroom or these faculty offices, we asked, "˜Why do you need that and what exactly are you going to use it for?'"
In the building's general classrooms, that process resulted in more flexible spaces. "Instead of the typical lecture-style desks, we used tables - some circular, some rectangular - that can be put together in different configurations," Moody said. "You can set up the room in bench-style seating for a lecture format, but if you need a collaborative workshop setting you can arrange it for small groups."
That flexibility required more storage capacity. "Instead of designing a 1,000-square-foot classroom, we broke that space into 200 square feet of storage and an 800-square-foot classroom," Moody continued. "That 800 feet is more flexible and can be configured in more ways than a bigger, standard room."
The design team also infused faculty spaces with flexibility. Originally they received requests for more than 60 individual offices. After looking at academic guidelines and how the areas would actually be used, they settled on more adaptable spaces centralized on the second floor. "The building forms a long bar (80-foot-wide by 455-foot-long)," Moody explained. "One side of the bar - about one-third of the space - is traditional, fixed offices with three solid walls and glass fronts that face an open area. That area on the other side is more open to the light with multiple configurations - some set up almost like what you see in the corporate world with open office workspaces. We included a mix of collaborative and touch-down spaces, some phone rooms, lounge space, and a few conference spaces."
In addition to accommodating faculty needs, the arrangement creates better opportunities for students. "It's a little more inviting for students to engage with faculty and provides a happy medium for all the parties involved," Moody said. "The open space breaks down the barrier where some professors say they have an open-door policy but then crack their door an inch."
Situating all the offices on the second floor also eliminated confusion in finding faculty from the many different departments. "It didn't make sense to have all these separate pieces of offices scattered throughout the building; it was more efficient - and clearer - to put them all in the same area," Moody said. "If you're looking for a professor during office hours, this is where they'll be."
In addition, the arrangement minimizes the likelihood of major remodeling in the future. "We look at this as a 50-year building," Moody added. "Leaving it without a bunch of fixed walls, with moveable furniture and operable walls that can be taken down and reconfigured, allows the space to adapt to whatever's needed 30 or 40 years from now."
One Building, Two Faces
On the exterior, to reflect the identities of IU and Ivy Tech, "We wanted it to be one building with different faces," Moody said. "The faces are geared toward the different colleges, but we didn't want one end green for Ivy Tech and the other crimson for IU."
Since most Ivy Tech students arrive from the south and most IU students approach from the north, "That helped guide us in saying the northern face is geared more toward IU and the performing arts students and the southern face is geared to the Ivy Tech students, who are more science-focused," Moody said. "The overarching programs from the different schools shaped the building. On the south side, the labs are more traditional in terms of building form; on the north side, you see an expression of the large performing arts theater with an unusual shape."
That extra-tall shape comes from the 55-foot-high fly loft over the performing arts stage. Inside, the loft gives scene crews space to store and move scenery and backdrops during performances. The 500-seat theater also features a thrust stage, which extends into the auditorium so the audience sits on three sides. "The stage can be reconfigured so it comes to a flat floor," Moody said. "They'll be able to put on any number of different types of shows in that venue."
With the new performing arts area, the university regains capacity lost when its oldest building, Tamarack Hall, closed in 2008 after extensive flood damage. The ornate Tamarack Hall Theatre served as a regional center for art, theater, music, and educational seminars and discussions.
"The return of a large-scale auditorium will not only benefit IU Northwest, but the entire community as it will bring the arts front and center to the Gary community, serving as an anchor for the city's redevelopment plan," David Klamen, Associate Dean for IU Northwest's College of Arts and Sciences, said in a university press release.
Accommodating Neighbors and Utilities
Beyond the arts and sciences programming, conditions around the building also impacted the design. For instance, "We used a precast concrete on the exterior of the building that emulates Indiana limestone," Moody said. "We were able to pretty closely match the palette that is IU's campus, and it allowed us to assemble the exterior much faster so we could get students into the building faster."
A major City of Gary utility line running down the center of the property influenced the building's shape and placement on the site. "Most of the building sits off to one side, but the theater portion actually perches over the top of that utility line," Moody said. "We had to maintain a 14-foot head clearance over the top of the line so if any issues occur, the city can access any point with their equipment. During construction, there were a lot of gymnastics and special measures to ensure no one dropped something on top of that utility."
Four residential homes next to the site constrained construction methods. "We didn't have very good soil, and the typical response for a 135,000 square-foot building is to drill 80-foot piles - except drilling an 80-foot pile 30 feet from someone's house is very disturbing," Moody said.
Instead, the building sits on a geopier structural system with small clusters of 30-foot piers instead of one 80-foot pile for each building column. "The contractor didn't have to dig nearly as deep, so it's a little better for being a good neighbor," Moody added.
Energy-efficient features include mechanical systems and plenty of natural light. "Given the long, narrow bar shape, we needed to be very strategic where we placed windows and glass based on orientation," Moody said. "We wanted the first floor along the west faÃ§ade to remain visually open and public, so we took measures to set the glass back where it's shaded."
As the building nears completion, the team is gathering documentation for the LEED certification process. It is anticipated that the sustainability goal of LEED Silver will not only be met, but also exceeded.