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The Center
Indianapolis, Ind.
Landscape Architecture by Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf


The Center

Located in Indianapolis, The Center - the professional campus for companies owned by the Heritage Group - is the first landscape in Indiana to achieve SITES certification. A circular granite water feature filled with local boulders sits in front of the sites building. Ipe decking leads the way to the entrance.


The Center

Concrete pavers were chosen for the courtyard area on the campus, as well as the retaining walls.


When work on the project design for The Center in Indianapolis began in 2013, the landscape architecture firm, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf (BDMD), and its consultants worked closely with the client, the Heritage Group, to develop their new Center for Innovation. The Heritage Group is a privately held third generation family-owned company owning many other companies (+40) in the reclamation, environmental cleanup, road research and construction industry. The Center is a one-of-a-kind corporate entrepreneurial campus and secure research lab for the Indianapolis-based global holding company, located on a 50-acre parcel within the Intech Park office development on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

The needs and aspirations of the users guided the project and drove many of the solutions that were realized in the final design. The clients desired a place that would tell the company's story, provide centralized "incubating" spaces where ideas can grow, celebrate the company's identity, cultivate a flexible work environment where employees are given the freedom to move and work in a variety of indoor/outdoor spaces, and offer a functional laboratory space where state-of-the-art equipment and top scientists can continue working toward a bigger and brighter future. The Center fulfills this vision as a new place harboring the heart of the company's values and celebrating its contributions to the community; it is a place to grow, to innovate, to learn and to collaborate.

LEED & SITES Certification
The existing site consisted of stockpile areas as well as undeveloped fields and wooded areas bordered by residential development to the south and west, commercial development to the north (additional area of Intech Park) and I-465 to the east with predominantly commercial development and some residential on the east side of I-465. The original master plan called for an office park with several multi-story office buildings and surface parking lots. The Center is a 105,000-square foot building that only takes up five percent of the site.



The Center

The design incorporating contracting-colored concrete pavers continues into a covered seating and deck area. Ipe railing encloses the deck space.


The Center

Boulders made of decomposed granite and granite pavers form a water feature that abuts a wall on the side of the main campus building.


Throughout the design stages, the project went through many changes, but the intention, core values and sustainable focus that were created by the integrated BDMD design team remained intact. The project has earned the first dual-certification in Indiana, as the site and building are designed to meet or exceed the requirements for SITES and LEED.

The Center's building footprint is surrounded by native landscape plantings and hardscape materials, plaza spaces of varying character, accessible paths, wetland ponds and custom water features. The architecture and the site are seamless and blend in with the natural environment, encouraging engagement and recreation.

Using several highly effective strategies, such as orientation, shading, material properties and mechanical efficiencies to optimize the building's energy performance, it is projected to save the owner an estimated $30,000 a year in utility costs. The site was designed with several sustainable features including maximized green space and canopy with native vegetation; rain gardens, wetland forebays and ponds to capture and treat stormwater; on-site ponds for a limited irrigation system; porous asphalt landforms and water features to redirect and mitigate noise pollution; local stone materials and sustainably harvested wood for the plazas, decks and boardwalks; LED lighting to reduce energy use; and over a mile of trails around the ponds and through the woodlands to allow users to engage closely with the interpreted natural environment. These strategies create an elegant, sustainable, high-performance working environment for the clients and visitors alike.



The Center

Porous asphalt paving surrounds the water feature and makes up the retaining planters that seem to float on the water.


The Center

A 9 x 16-meter sand volleyball court was designed into the landscape. The clients wanted to have areas where workers or visitors could play games for team building purposes.


Water Efficiency
The indoor potable water use was reduced by 38 percent. This was achieved through a variety of low-flow and high-efficiency fixtures and fittings. The reduction of outdoor water use was supported by limiting the irrigation to areas directly adjacent to the building.

Most of the site features a native plant palette that tolerates Indiana climates and offers the opportunity to discontinue irrigation in the future. The water for irrigation is pumped from a pond north of the building, which also receives filtered water from the site's wetland ponds. A well was installed to maintain the elevation of the main pond.



The Center

Eight in-ground uplights illuminate trees along the railing of the campus's deck area.


The Center

Fourteen underwater lights cause jets in the rectangular water feature to glow in the evenings.


Energy & Atmosphere
Both the building and site offered energy-reduction properties. An efficient building envelope, LED lighting and a high-performance mechanical system enabled the project to achieve a projected 15 percent reduction in annual energy cost.

More than 70 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. All products for the site were purchased from a renewable source in accordance with SITES. This included mulch, FSC-certified wood for site furnishings, decks, railings, pallets, scaffolding, concrete forms, sidewalk protection and guardrails. Native plants came from a local nursery, and all the stone boulders used in the water features and around the site came from the owner's local quarries.



The Center

A deck and railing made of Ipe border the campus and lead to a lake with soft borders, making it stormwater-friendly.


The Center

Over a mile of compacted aggregate trails lead visitors through the forested trails system connected to the campus.


Awareness & Education
Educational and interpretive elements on site are both passive and interactive. Signs that focus on the master plan for the site, habitat preservation, water management, soils and vegetation, material selection and plant identification labels are available throughout. These elements with unique content enrich the user experience while educating visitors about the sustainable features of the site. A woodland trails map allows users to intentionally take routes in search of this education. Additionally, an interactive main lobby story telling area documents the company's history, along with recognition of milestone achievements.

Innovation in Design
While the project achieved LEED certification, the crowning achievement in terms of innovation was the collective learning curve to achieve SITES certification - The Center was the first and is the only project in Indiana to achieve such certification as of May 2019.



The Center

One of the trail options leads to a collection of "conference cabins" where business teams can meet for work or relaxation off of the main campus.


The Center

A small pond surrounded by wildflowers collects stormwater that does not soak into the absorbent landscape that surrounds the hardscape features of The Center's main campus.


Pursuit of SITES required a commitment to restoring the wetland and previously developed site at a level far beyond what LEED calls for. A large portion of the design was focused on managing stormwater including a new blend of porous asphalt pavement, rain gardens, vegetated swales, filtering forebays, planted littoral edged ponds and the enhancement of an existing wetland. The finished campus is considered a success by the employees who train and recharge at The Center, while the owner demonstrated the leadership and commitment to landscape sustainability from the early programming phase of the project through the end.

Team list:
Landscape Architecture Firm - Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf
MEP - Circle Design Group
Structural Engineer - Fink, Roberts & Petrie, Inc
Civil Engineer - Cripe Engineering
Environmental Analysis - Cardno
Irrigation - Irrigation Design Source



As seen in LASN magazine, June 2019.



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August 21, 2019, 1:33 am PDT

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