GROUNDBREAKING MOMENT: Ivy Tech holds virtual ceremony for new building

The path that has brought us to this moment has been many years in the making and has required many steps, partnerships and lots of perseverance.”

Those were the words of Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus Executive Director of Development Therese Copeland as she welcomed viewers to the college’s virtual ceremony for its new main campus building — an event she aptly called a “groundbreaking moment.”

The ceremony video, which was prerecorded, premiered at 3 p.m. Thursday on Ivy Tech Community College Columbus’s YouTube channel, celebrating the start of work on the new building.

The video featured individuals from Ivy Tech, project partners, donors and local leaders. It also included renderings of what the finished building will look like, footage of the project site — and a hilarious montage of Ivy Tech Chancellor Steven Combs hightailing it all the way from Mill Race Park in downtown Columbus to the airpark campus on foot (with a stop at Donut Central on the way), only to realize that the ceremony wasn’t in-person.

And in another nod to humor, the video also comes with a “blooper reel,” just for laughs.

“This is certainly a unique way to celebrate the beginning of new building construction, especially given the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann in her address on the video. “Of course, this type of creativity and problem solving is exactly what I have come to expect from the Ivy Tech — Columbus campus and the communities it serves. The Columbus area is well known and well respected for its innovative and collaborative spirit, and this campus consistently rises to connect and engage with its communities.”

Designing the future

Combs highlighted the new building’s features in the video.

“This structure will offer the same strong academic programs and career training, but in a state-of-the-art modern facility built for today’s students and learning in the 21st century,” he said.

There will be updated classrooms, study nooks and an “improved commons area.” He added that there will be simulation labs that help prepare students for real-world scenarios.

“The building will be bright, welcoming, and flexible, enabling us to offer courses in a variety of formats,” he said.

Craig Scott and Lisa Iwamoto from Iwamoto Schott Architecture also spoke in the video about the different features of the building and their vision for the structure.

The approximately $32 million, 80,000-square-foot structure will replace the aging Poling Hall on the Learning Center campus.

Serving local areas

As part of its community outreach, the college will invite the community to use its large meeting room for events, Combs said..

The new campus will “empower” the college as it continues to create “new and innovative educational initiatives” and provide more support for sites in Franklin, Greensburg, North Vernon, Seymour and Shelbyville.

Combs noted that the Columbus campus serves communities in Bartholomew, Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties at present, and will begin serving Johnson and Shelby counties this year.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, also featured in the video, likewise spoke of the benefits of the new campus to the community.

“This new campus will amplify the great services Ivy Tech provides to our region, and it will add to the architectural heritage of our community,” he said. “The modern design will present a stunning entrance to our Columbus Municipal Airpark, and the quality of Ivy Tech as a college will represent the caliber of higher education available here in Columbus at Ivy Tech and our other institutions.”

Project partners

The speakers also thanked the various entities involved in making the project a reality, including individuals and organizations who donated to the cause.

In February of 2020, Ivy Tech selected IwamotoScott Architecture of San Francisco to design its new main campus building. A grant from the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program is paying the architectural design fee for the building.

The architect of record for the project is CSO Architects, and the lead contractor is Pepper Construction, both based in Indianapolis.

“The partnerships that we, as a college, and this campus have in this community have made for a compelling process,” Ellspermann said. “The generosity of the Cummins Foundation to guide and fund the selection of design architects IwamotoScott has ensured this structure will stand tall with other notable buildings at this airpark campus, in this community, and within the Ivy Tech system.”

Many community members, including Ivy Tech faculty and staff, provided input and helped “drive this project to create an exceptional facility with academics, accessibility, and student success at its core,” she said.

Ellserpmann also thanked the state legislature for approving funding for the project.

“It is now incumbent on us to ensure this investment of Indiana taxpayer funding results in more Hoosiers successfully completing education, training, credentials and degrees which ensure their career success, prosperity, and social mobility, strengthen the regional economy and contribute to the improvement of their local communities,” she said.

The video highlighted collaboration with a montage of different individuals from Ivy Tech and the community breaking ground at the site.

What’s next

In the video, Travis Ballman with Pepper Construction said that the new facility will be complete in March of 2022, and the college will be able to move into it shortly after that time. The project will reach full completion in September of 2022.

Combs said that the college is excited to share the building with the community.

“Everyone will be welcome!” he said. “In fact, you will be able to get your own sneak peak through the miracle of augmented reality and virtual reality technology at an upcoming event.”

After showing a clip of Ellspermann using virtual reality and augmented reality headset to experience a first-person view of the new building, Combs said that the community will get to do the same at Grad Fest on May 15. During the event, Pepper Construction will have the same headsets for anyone who wants a virtual walkthrough of the building. Combs added that the community should check the college’s Facebook page for more updates.

Lienhoop said that he’s looking forward to the project’s completion.

“As a community, we wholeheartedly support Ivy Tech, and I personally cannot wait to walk through the doors of this new facility next year,” he said. “I celebrate with you today, and I am looking forward to continuing our community’s strong partnership with Ivy Tech.”

Ellspermann also expressed her anticipation of the building’s future opening.

“I look forward to seeing this structure rise and the continued development of the Columbus Airpark campus,” she said. “And I am excited for the moment next year when our students, employees, and community members can move into this building and take pride in what they have helped create.”

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Ivy Tech selected IwamotoScott Architecture of San Francisco in February 2020 to design its new main campus building in Columbus.

A grant from Cummins Foundation Architecture Program will pay the architectural design fee for Ivy Tech’s new building. The approximately $32 million, 80,000-square-foot structure will replace the aging Poling Hall.

Chancellor Steven Combs has said in the past that the project isn’t just a new main campus building, but actually a completely new campus for Ivy Tech-Columbus, with the new building becoming the entryway to the Columbus AirPark and to the entire Learning Center campus.

The architect of record for the project is CSO Architects, and the lead contractor is Pepper Construction. Both are based in Indianapolis.

More information and a live view of building construction is available at Combs said that the community can also stay updated on the building’s progress by checking the college’s Facebook page.

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If you missed the virtual ceremony’s premiere, the video is available on the Ivy Tech Community College Columbus YouTube channel. The college also premiered a blooper reel shortly after the ceremony’s conclusion.

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During the virtual ceremony, Travis Ballman with Pepper Construction outlined the following timeline for the project:

  • Present: Pepper Construction has begun prepping the site and is working on site utilities and preparing the building pad for new foundations.
  • May: The structural steel for the building will be installed.
  • Rest of 2021: Then they’ll focus on the building’s exterior and completing the building shell and building composure. This will allow them to work through fall and winter on the building’s interior.
  • March of 2022: The new facility is complete. Shortly after this, the college will be able to move from Poling Hall into the new facility.
  • Summer of 2022: After the move is complete, work begins on the demolition of Poling Hall. After that, the final phase of the project is work on site utilities and site improvements around where the current building is.
  • September of 2022: The final phase ends, and the project is complete.