Union Station to Undergo Repairs

Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects (BDMD) recently completed a study of Union Station that identified nearly $7 million in needed repairs and improvements. The building is structurally sound and emergency repairs have already been completed.

Greg Jacoby, BDMD Principal, and Adam Thies, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, led members of the media on a tour of the building on August 20, 2014.

Watch Jacoby and Thies discuss the results of the study and the City’s plan to repair and upgrade Union Station.


Every Energy Model Is Wrong – And Here Is Why They Are Indispensable

LEED has taken some heat for buildings that do not perform as they were modeled, yet energy modeling is an essential tool for any high-performance building project.

Originally published in the August 2014 issue of Environmental Design + Construction (EDC) magazine.

Recently, LEED has come under fire for accounts of certified buildings not performing as well as their energy models predicted. Frequently mentioned amongst the antagonistic “gotcha” coverage is an out-of-context 2007 quote by the USGBC Research Committee acknowledging: “Buildings have a poor track record of performing as predicted during design.”

Within context, the research committee clarifies the reasons for the frequency of underperforming energy models, citing “inaccurate or improperly used analysis tools, lack of integration of complex interconnected systems, value engineering after design, poor construction practices, no building commissioning, and incomplete or improper understanding of operations and maintenance practices.” Not nearly an exhaustive list, but all legitimate considerations.

Read more…

CityWay YMCA Groundbreaking

Groundbreaking of CityWay YMCA

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has broken ground on its newest center in the CityWay complex!

YMCA officials were joined by representatives from Eli Lilly and Company, the City of Indianapolis and Buckingham Companies at the groundbreaking ceremony, held on the site of the new 87,000 square feet full-service center that is also one of the largest in the country. Browning Day designed the $22 million facility that will be an exciting addition to this vibrant neighborhood in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Browning Day Announces Promotions

Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf recently recognized several employees with promotions in the firm. Browning Day is committed to the recognition and empowerment of their talented and dedicated staff and is proud to welcome these team members into new positions.

The following employees have been promoted to Senior Associate:

Steve Hoersten, Senior Project Manager
Tim Ritchotte RA, Senior Project Manager
Jon Hutslar PLA, Senior Project Manager

The following employees have been promoted to Associate:

Drew Braley PLA ASLA, Project Manager
Ryan Cambridge PLA ASLA, Director of Open Space Planning
Todd Oakley, Project Manager
Daniel Overbey AIA, LEED AP, Director of Sustainability
Mike Walker, Project Manager
Nick Worden LEED AP, Project Manager
Jonathan Young AIA, LEED AP, Project Manager

Congratulations to the 2014 Class of Senior Associates and Associates. Way to go!


Community Connection

Photograph property of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects

Case Study: Lincoln Heritage Public Library Chrisney Branch

Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of High Performance Buildings (HPB) magazine, a publication of ASHRAE.

By Daniel J. Overbey, AIA; and William M. Brown, AIA

For the people of Chrisney, Ind., opportunity for social and economic investment has not been knocking. This community of fewer than 500 has been in a gradual economic decline over the past several decades. Having already lost its high school in the 1970s due to a push for school consolidation, the town took another blow in 2011 when an expansion of U.S. 231 rerouted the four-lane corridor around the town, which was once a thriving rural community in southern Indiana.

Located 15 miles from the nearest public library, the community saw its children slipping on reading scores because they lacked access to the library district’s summer reading programs. Gradually, families were moving away from Chrisney, their children never to return. The town realized it needed a library — a new source of pride and a center for community. What it ended up with was a net zero energy library.

Read more…

INASLA Celebrates National Landscape Architecture Month

April is National Landscape Architecture Month and for the  occasion, the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (INASLA) commissioned Outside the Box, a local non-profit that assists people with developmental disabilities, to create an art piece that shows all components of landscape architecture. This art piece is currently on display in the Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. BDMD’s landscape architecture studio took a stroll to the library to support this initiative and admire the piece. In photo from left to right: Ryan Cambridge, Brett Schlachter, Drew Braley, Jonathan Hutslar and Mark Beer. #NLAM #landarch


Visualizing “Seasonal Lag” Effect


I recently completed teaching a unit on the topic of solar geometry. Among the various facets of the subject matter, I talked to the class at length about the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (which, evidently, is a revelation to 1/4 of American population), the northern hemisphere’s 23.5° tilt toward and away from the Sun during the summer and winter, respectively, and how the distribution of radiant flux is affected by the relative tilt of the Earth’s surface at a given location (i.e., the “cosine effect”).

As we discuss the Sun’s journey across the sky in northern latitudes, it becomes clear that solar income should theoretically be most available at the summer solstice (i.e., June 21) – when the Sun has its longest course, its highest altitude, and is shining most normal (e.g., closest to perpendicular) to the Earth’s surface at a given location north of the equator.

Strangely, the air temperatures at the Earth’s surface typically lag behind June 21 by several weeks. For instance, in Indianapolis, Indiana, peak temperatures typically occur in July and August. Both months’ average temperature is higher than that of June.

Read more…

Schrott Center for the Arts

Butler Arts Venue Embraces Bold Design

Schrott Theatre Stage

Opened in spring 2013, The LEED Gold certified Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing and Visual Arts is the newest performance hall at Butler University. The 450-seat venue for music and theater is located near Clowes Memorial Hall, and responds to the theater and music departments’ need for a mid-sized performance facility. The design meets the particular requirements of choral, orchestral, and theatrical productions, and includes a lobby, green room, dressing rooms, and other support spaces. The exterior design employs a mix of buff-colored architectural precast concrete and ashlar-pattern Indiana limestone veneer. The choice of the precast panels was driven by their ability to enclose the tall volume, and provide the mass necessary to isolate the audience chamber and the stage house from unwanted noise. Retractable acoustic banners and curtains are used in the hall to allow the tuning of the room between the needs for a wet music environment and a drier theatrical performance space. The hard proscenium opening is adjustable in width from 40-50 feet to meet a variety of performance needs. The performance hall’s efficiency and warmth provide an intimate atmosphere which allows the audience to feel completely engaged with the performers.

Warm tones and bold colors are used throughout the facility to offset the cooler nature of the exposed precast concrete surfaces.  The corridor connecting the front to the back-of-house spaces doubles as a gallery that features works of art by students from the Jordan College of the Arts’. The enlarged landing on the second floor provides additional artwork exhibit space. Monumental windows in the lobby and gallery provide a generous amount of natural light and a direct connection to the surrounding campus, letting the outside in, and minimizing the effect of the massive precast panels.  The flame red carpet, wall accents and pendant lights accentuate the inside-out effect.

The facility uses 55 percent less water and 22 percent less energy than similar size facilities thanks to a heat reflective white roof, energy-efficient light fixtures, motion and occupancy sensors, and low-flow restroom. Most of the stormwater runoff is drained into and filtered by a rain garden/bio swale feature.

Efficiency: Toward Net-Zero Energy (VoiceThread Presentation)


Four years ago, I co-authored a white paper with my colleague Nick Worden at Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf (BDMD) Architects and William Brown, currently the Director of Sustainability at Indiana University. The white paper was published at 2010 International High Performance Buildings Conference at Purdue University and it presented a full-year of energy consumption and on-site renewable energy production data for the Chrisney Library (a branch of the Lincoln Heritage Public Library), verifying the project as the first non-residential net-zero (site) energy facility in Indiana (we intend to publish more recent performance data this summer).

On the heels of this verified accomplishment, we began an internal dialog at BDMD that resulted in a honed design philosophy that focuses on metrics and the value proposition of a wide range of energy efficient strategies and technologies.

En route to this synthesis of ideas, we developed an earlier version of the presentation offered below. In fact, over the next couple of years, we would develop a few versions of this presentation, which we now entitle Efficiency: Toward Net-Zero Energy.

A version of this presentation has been given at several venues, including the following conferences:

  • 2011 Spring Conference & Trade Show for Indiana Association of Homes & Services for the Aging (IAHSA), Indiana Assisted Living Association (INALA), Indiana Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (IHPCO) and Hoosier Owners and Providers for the Elderly (HOPE)
  • 2011 Midwest Healthcare Engineering Conference & Trade Show
  • 2012 Indiana Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) State Conference


On behalf of BDMD Architects, we are happy to finally offer the presentation in an online publicly available format.


Data demonstrating that from April 2009 through March 2010, the Chrisney Library produced 1,826 more kilowatt-hours than it consumed.Image courtesy of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects



Efficiency: Toward Net-Zero Energy will introduce you to the basic principles of net-zero energy design. Specifically, the presentation will detail how proper design decisions based on climate and available resources can yield considerable energy savings and serve as a sound investment for both new and existing facilities.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for this presentation are as follows:

  • Explore the four basic concepts and types of Net Zero energy
  • Determine the best Net Zero concept / approach as it relates to a facility
  • See examples or real applications that can make a difference in reducing the consumption of energy

VoiceThread Presentation

The presentation is publicly available via VoiceThread at:



A complete collection of presentation slides. including a few that did not make into the final VoiceThread edit, can be accessed via the link below:

Efficiency: Toward Net-Zero Energy – Full-Presentation Slides (PDF, 29.9 MB)

via Google Docs


Internation Orangutan Center: Beacon of Hope

International Orangutan Center Gets National Coverage


The International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo is getting national attention, with coverage in the Chicago Tribune and on CNN. The center’s unique design and remarkable interactive features provide the Orangutans an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible.  The highly anticipated exhibit will allow the public an unprecedented level of interaction with the primates.  Both media outlets list the exhibit as a destination place in Indianapolis. It will open to the public during Memorial Day weekend.

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