Mapping out the future: Nationwide architects propose designs for new Ivy Tech campus

Lisa Iwamoto, left, and Craig Scott, founding partners of IwamotoScott Architecture, answer a question from Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College, about their design for the new Ivy Tech Columbus campus at Fair Oaks Mall in Columbus, Ind., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

A group of world-renowned architects converged on FairOaks Mall, all with an identical mission.

Five architecture firms from around the United States traveled to Columbus Friday to present design concepts for the proposed 80,000-square-foot building that will replace Ivy Tech Community College’s Poling Hall.

In November, the college announced a collaboration with the Cummins Foundation as Ivy Tech plans to build a $32 million new main campus building to replace the aging Poling Hall in the Columbus AirPark.

“We get to start from scratch and create what is that 21st and 22nd century building where students can come, learn, get educated and collaborate in new ways as opposed to being stuck in these old cinder block walls that have been designed for almost 18th and 19th century instruction,” said Steven Combs, Ivy Tech Columbus chancellor.

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Ivy Tech Columbus has tried for several years to secure funds from the State of Indiana to renovate the current Columbus campus or build a new building, Combs said. The school came closest to being selected in 2017 but was bumped down in priority after the Ivy Tech Kokomo campus was struck by a tornado.

The Indiana Legislature approved funding for the new Columbus building earlier this year. The funding is designated in the 2019-2021 Indiana state biennial budget.

The Cummins Foundation Architecture Program recommended five architects for consideration and is providing funds for the design portion of the college’s new campus building.

This will represent the first building project sponsored by the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program since the design of the neighboring Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence at the Columbus AirPark in 2009.

Among the firms selected internally by the Cummins Foundation were IwamotoScott Architects of San Francisco, SO-IL Architects of Brooklyn, New York, Snow Kreilich of Minneapolis, Marlon Blackwell Architects of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and nARCHITECTS of Brooklyn, New York.

Indiana-based architecture firm CSO Architects was selected by the Cummins Foundation as the architecture firm of record. Tom Cheesman, of CSO Architects, will manage the building project.

Each firm was given 40 minutes to present design concepts for the campus to a panel of four judges, including Combs, Cheesman, Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president, and Amanda Wilson, Ivy Tech vice president of capital planning and facilities. More than 100 Ivy Tech employees, students and community members also sat in on the presentations, getting a brief glimpse into what the future of Ivy Tech Columbus could look like.

What is unknown, although the Cummins Foundation is providing the five firms to pitch their ideas, is whether all five will have an interest in the project, Combs said. “We were fortunate all five of them were super excited to be here.”

Each firm visited Columbus in November and spent a day with Combs learning more about Ivy Tech’s dreams and aspirations for a new campus building. Many of the architects stayed overnight and explored the city, immersing themselves in the existing architecture.

When they went back to their home bases, Combs said the firms had a little over two weeks to create and provide some sort of vision for why their firm should be selected.

Mary Chandler, vice president of corporate responsibility for Cummins Inc. and CEO of the Cummins Foundation, said Ivy Tech has served Columbus residents and surrounding communities for more than 50 years with “invaluable educational pathways toward rewarding careers.”

“We are delighted to support the college as they prepare to build for their future and contribute to the landscape of architectural excellence in Bartholomew County,” Chandler said.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop said the construction of a new campus building is a momentous occasion for Columbus. He joked that he’s happy to see a project that the city doesn’t have to run, alluding to the many projects currently underway by the City of Columbus.

“Many of us can think back to an event, say 20 years ago or where we were 20 years ago,” Lienhoop said, “but it’s not too often that you get to say, ‘I was there when it started,’ and, ‘I was there when we put the shovel in the ground or when we picked the architect.’”

Combs said building a new facility from the ground up, rather than renovating the current Poling Hall, will significantly improve the learning and collaborative environments for Ivy Tech students and employees.

“For the students, it’s going to give them a more engaging and collaborative space,” Combs said. “Right now, most classrooms are fairly structured in a way — we present up on a wall, people listen. Now we’re going to open that up.”

The new structure will allow for project-based learning. Classrooms will be reconfigurable, offering the opportunity to work in collaborative spaces rather than just lectures.

The health care sectors, including nursing, dental assisting, medical assisting, phlebotomy and surgical tech, will have new state-of-the-art labs based on current standards used by hospitals.

“Our students get to go and continue to learn while we watch this building grow …,” Combs said.

Poling Hall will be torn down once the new building is complete. Plans are also in the works for a large outdoor space that would incorporate an outdoor classroom.

Ivy Tech is expected to select one of the five architecture firms by the end of the week, Combs said. Judges are also using audience input from Friday’s event to make their decision.

“There’s a wonderful synergy going on right now to create this wonderful campus space for everybody in Columbus,” Combs said. “We want to create a campus that’s inviting them to our campus to start, but then don’t forget there’s these other institutions like IUPUC and Purdue Polytechnic to continue your education beyond that and complete everything in the Columbus AirPark.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Meet the firms” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Five architecture firms from all corners of the country are in the running to be named the design architect of Ivy Tech Community College’s new Columbus campus building.

The firms are:

IwamotoScott Architects

Location: San Francisco, California

Previous work: Pinterest Headquarters, Bloomberg Tech Hub, Google PixelTree, Stockholm Public Library, Obscura Headquarters


SO-IL Architects

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Previous work: Las Americas Social Housing, Versace Showroom, Wynwood Gateway Park, University of Arts London School of Fashion, Meicang Art District


Snow Kreilich

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Previous work: CHS Field, Minneapolis Federal Office Building, Delta IRC, Breck School Commons, University of South Dakota Vermillion School of Business Competition


Marlon Blackwell Architects

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Previous work: Indianapolis Museum of Art Visitors Pavilion, Fayetteville High School, Gentry Public Library, St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church, Montessori Elementary



Location: Brooklyn, New York

Previous work: Chicago Navy Pier, The Butterfly Building, Shanghai Library East Hall, NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center, Joan Mitchell Foundation


[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About Ivy Tech Community College” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana largest public post-secondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech 45 has campuses throughout Indiana.

The college offers affordable degree programs and training aligned with its local communities’ workforce needs. Ivy Tech courses and programs also transfer to several Indiana colleges and universities.

Ivy Tech Columbus is located at 4475 Central Ave., Columbus.

Source: Ivy Tech Community College

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

In 1957, the Cummins Foundation made its first grant to support architecture fees, for the Lillian C. Schmitt Elementary School, designed by Harry Weese. The Architecture Program became a formal part of the Cummins Foundation in 1960 with a grant for Northside Middle School.

It began with schools, but later grew to encompass all facilities owned and operated by public tax dollars. The program recommends architects and provides funds for the design portion of the architect fees for selected public projects to encourage architectural excellence in Bartholomew County.

More than 50 projects have been sponsored by the Cummins Foundation. The community embraced this commitment to architecture, and numerous other significant works of architecture in the community have been privately commissioned.

Source: Cummins Foundation Architecture Program