A lot is happening in Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities! The Building Contractors Association of Northeast Indiana and Irving Materials, Inc. teamed up to recognize outstanding commercial construction through the BCA IMI Excellence in Construction Awards. 2021 marks the 18th annual year for the awards program recognizing local construction projects completed in the previous year and located within a 75-mile radius of Fort Wayne. Awards were presented in four categories: Renovation Under and Over $2 million and New Construction Under and Over $6 million.
A panel of industry experts evaluated projects based on a weighted scale for uniqueness, significance/impact to the community where constructed, BCA member involvement and job safety record.
WHITKO CAREER ACADEMY
The Whitko Career Academy project nominated by Michael Kinder & Sons, Inc. (MKS) and MKM architecture + design took top honors in the Renovation Under $2 Million category. MKS was the construction manager and MKM was the architect for the project.
This incredible educational facility redefines what “school” is. Providing a hands-on, career-focused learning environment, the Whitko Career Academy offers a state-of-the-art space for high school students to learn about and build experience in more than 14 skilled professions. Students can prepare for their future careers in everything from engineering and welding to nursing and marketing.
The academy’s design truly focuses on the educational opportunities available, encouraging collaboration and eliminating barriers for student involvement.
By adapting an existing asset, an empty middle school building, and turning it into a career academy, Whitko Community Schools has invested in the future of the region’s economy and the livelihoods of its individual students.
WELLS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Renovation Over $2 Million award was given to MKM architecture + design and CME Corporation. CME Construction served as General Contractor for the project and MKM architecture + design was the architect.
Bluffton, Indiana, has been known as “The Parlor City” for over 100 years because of its early adoption of paved streets and clean public spaces. The parlor was the room in the home where guests were welcomed and entertained. The client’s mission for this project was just that: allowing the Wells County Public Library to function better as a third place where all guests feel welcome.
The project scope includes transforming the main lobby space, seating areas, meeting rooms, administration and genealogy departments, the Children’s and teen departments, and new circulation desks for all departments.
Locally inspired design elements are embraced throughout the library. The Wabash River and surrounding bluffs are represented in a new biophilic undulating wood ceiling that floats above the main lobby space. The ceiling follows the lobby around a corner to invite patrons into new tiered seating with bright rings of light above. A large-scale colorful bison mural brings a community icon indoors.
A winding river pattern in the carpet guides visitors through the children’s department, from the interactive treehouse wall to play areas and the story room with a twinkling star ceiling and a floor-to-ceiling mural done by a local artist.
The updated space allows the library to move away from a “warehouse of books” and towards an “opportunity incubator” for the patrons it serves.
NEW COVENANT CHURCH – THE IMPACT CENTER
The Impact Center won in the category of New Construction under $6 million. Weigand Construction served as the construction manager, and Design Collaborative was the architect for the project.
The project’s scope included an addition to the existing New Covenant Worship Center, located on the city’s southeast side, where community outreach and safe gathering spaces are rare. The new Impact Center is designed to be welcoming and a beacon of hope for an impoverished area in the greater Fort Wayne community. A transparent façade denotes the openness of the church and a ray of light shines from the exterior at night.
The space was constructed to allow for more adult learning classes, community outreach, social services and additional classrooms for church programs and a preschool. The Impact Center plans to offer mental health counseling, mentoring to previously incarcerated individuals, financial literacy and job placement training. It will also house a sports academy, English classes, parenting education and diversity training.
THE LANDING FORT WAYNE
Taking top honors in the category of New Construction Over $6 million is The Landing Fort Wayne. MKM architecture + design nominated the project and was the architect of record.
For almost a century, Columbia Street was the cultural hub of northern Indiana. Sadly, that vibrancy faded. While the streets and sidewalks were redeveloped in the ‘70s in hopes of breathing new life into the area, the national interest in suburban development left many urban neighborhoods like the Landing ignored and forgotten. The following decades saw Columbia Street slowly decay, never really understanding what it needed to reinvent itself. Until now.
To be successful, the Landing needed to provide an authentic place to work, live and play. This is what the Landing had historically offered, and it was something that needed to be prioritized in its revitalization.
With the removal of the existing Rose Marie building – the only non-contributing building within the historic district – the project supports 110,000 square feet of renovated space and 34,000 square feet of new construction with a cost of $32 million.
The newly constructed building at 111 W. Columbia Street complements its historic neighbors with first-floor retail and apartments on upper floors. Apartments offer spacious interiors and street-side balcony views, finding themselves less than two blocks away from Fort Wayne’s new riverfront development, the expanded arts campus and the heart of downtown.
Commercial office space houses entrepreneurs welcoming new clients and almost a dozen street-level retail establishments provide authentic dining experiences from local restaurateurs.
The design team worked diligently with the project’s developer to ensure every historical feature was either restored or repurposed throughout the project. For example, The Landing Beer Co. space uses existing features found through the course of demolition – including an original exterior advertisement for “New York Salt” – to compliment the new amenities such as the custom light fixture over the bar inspired by historic outdoor markets. Additionally, original terrazzo floors from 1914 were restored to their former glory after years under carpeting.
The Landing is more than a collection of buildings. It is a conduit for people of all ages and abilities — a funnel for opportunity and interaction. Just as it was over a century ago, the Landing is intended to become a bustling place for people to gather, meet, buy, sell, rest, laugh, dine and work.
BCA also recognizes this year’s honorable mentions: