Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tidbits on the City County Building, Indianapolis

Last year I devoted an Urban Times column to the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Building. You can read that column here: http://www.urbantimesonline.com/2009/07/appreciating-the-unappreciated-the-city-county-building/

The City-County building is a nice example of glass curtain-wall International Style and it deserves more appreciation than it has received. I hope that appreciation begins sooner rather than later so that we can protect the building from misguided renovations.

A couple of weeks ago, J. Parke Randall, one of the architects who helped design the City-County building, sent me copies of some original documents about it. I want to pass some of that information and other bits I've learned since writing the Urban Times column to all of you who have a mutual interest in the building and those who may come to appreciate it as they learn more about it. The information below is basically copied from the documents Parke Randall sent, though I added a bit of my own commentary in a couple of places.

According to a ring-bound booklet about the building, the City-County Building was a joint effort by the "Allied Architects & Engineers of Indianapolis." The firms involved were Lennox, Matthews, Simmons & Ford, Inc. and Vonnegut, Wright & Porteous, Inc., the local "Allied Architects and Engineers" group. Harley, Ellington & Day, Inc. was the consulting architects firm from Detroit. J. M. Rotz Engineering Co. provided mechanical engineers and Metropolitan Planners, Inc., the landscape designers.

According to a list compiled by the Indiana Architectural Foundation in 1994 people in the building design team included:
Richard C. Lennox, Architect in Charge
William C. Wright, Architect in Charge
Robert E. Lakin, Project Architect (tower design, elevators, material selections, etc.)
Marion L. Cramer, Structural Engineer
Louis E. Penniston, Architect for the jail wing design
Herbert M. Thompson, Architect for the courts wing design
Joe McGuire, Architect (specifications)
Courtney Macomber, Architect designer for all areas
Lee Hollinden, curtain wall design
Charles Pye, stair design
Kenny Curtis, toilet room designs [and let me just say that the restrooms are modern-stylish in this building]
Parke Randall, interior designs, cafeteria, Mayor's office, etc.
Maynard Cox, structural design
Dick Roettger, construction supervision
Ken Goodrich, interior design (colors) [good work, Goodrich. The color choices are both elegant and whimsical in this building]
Don Woehler, parking garage structural
Don Hammond, Tom Leonard, Gordon Herbert, Milton Cuppy, draftsmen
Bob Shroyer (models for preliminary design)
John Coffin, structural canopies
Joan Izor and Donna Polling secretaries

J. Parke Randall began working on the City-County building in April 1957, when he was 30; he finished in 1959. Prior to his position on this project he'd worked with E.I. Brown and the estimable Indianapolis architect, Edward D. Pierre. He joined Vonnegut, Wright & Porteus and, along with William (Bill) Wright, represented that firm as part of the Allied Architects on the C-C building. Randall kept a log of his work on the project, which included preliminary planning drawings and department layouts for the Mayor's Suite, Police Identification Dept., Crime Lab, Police Line Up, Police Property Dept., Photo Labs, Library, Detective Assembly, Health and Hospital Labs, Civil Engneer Labs, and Parking Garage.

Working on a building that deserves recognition but is mostly unappreciated must be a special kind of disappointment. If you know anyone involved in the design of the City-County Building, take a minute to say thanks for that good modern building, one of few in this city.

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