IU School of Medicine reconstructs building renovation strategies

April 14, 2016

In 1912, construction began on Robert W. Long Hospital--the first building on what would become the Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis campus. Over the course of several decades a cornfield, a dump, and a swamp were transformed into an up-to-date scientific setting.

Throwback: The men's ward of Long Hospital, circa 1940. | Photo By IU School of Medicine

A new facility renaissance is under way at the IU School of Medicine Indianapolis campus--this one targeted at recruiting and retaining the nation’s best researchers, faculty members, and students.

“We are thinking strategically with our projects, big and small,” says Jim Stewart, director of Space Planning and Utilization for the IU School of Medicine. “We want to create sizeable, modern laboratory spaces to attract top researchers and programs, while also offering up spaces that serve students and faculty, and support the new medical education curriculum.”

Those are some lofty goals for a group of 16 buildings on the Indianapolis campus--some more than a century old. The big updates call for careful planning, which started in 2014 with a facilities assessment culminating in 2015 with a master space utilization plan.

The assessment and plan pointed out a critical issue resulting from decades of small-scale renovations: a large number of small vacancies spread across the campus. These small, unused --and in some cases outdated--spaces need to be addressed thematically and strategically in order to support major recruitment efforts for new centers or chairs.

“Gone are the days of renovating a few offices and designing specific lab areas,” says Stewart. “Now thematic renovations of entire floors and wings will be done in such a way that they shouldn’t have to be touched again for 20 years. This will allow us to rotate renovations and budget more methodically with a timeline in place.”

You can see the seeds of this new strategy being planted in the IU Neuroscience Research Building, the Glick Building, on the fourth and fifth floors of the Van Nuys Medical Science Building, and in the entire west tower of the Medical Research and Library Building.

The Medical Research and Library Building was built in the late 1980s. Stewart and his planning staff are rethinking the functionality of the west wing space, which will be gutted and remodeled with recruitment and the new medical education curriculum at top of mind.

“The facility assessment and master space utilization plans allowed us to realize that we had a unique opportunity to renovate the entire west wing of the Medical Research and Library building, especially the laboratory floors, sequentially.  While discussions on phasing and timing with University Architects are ongoing, we hope to renovate all five floors of the west wing in the next two to three years to bring the entire west wing of the facility up to contemporary laboratory and administrative standards.”  

But don’t think Stewart and his crew are doing all the heavy lifting in terms of space planning and functionality decisions. They know the best ideas come from those who use the space most. They are working with students to determine improvements to facilities that will benefit their educational experience. Medical students are driving many of the design ideas for the renovation of the Daly Student Center; over the next year crews will renovate the Daly Center student fitness center, the student lounge and study areas.

“We’ve held several meetings with students and their feedback has helped shape our direction,” says Stewart, who notes they will continue to gather further input when the center’s basement lounge area gets a refresh later this year.