Constructed in 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse is a work of art. Adorned with ceramic tile mosaics, stained-glass windows, and 22 different marbles from around the world, the magnificence of the architecture is overshadowed only by the critical work taking place within its walls.
After more than a century of serving the people of Indiana, the courthouse required an extensive renovation to extend its useful life, support current needs, and meet contemporary standards for safety and accessibility. Page's phased modernization of the occupied landmark helped improve occupant comfort and security while respecting and preserving the building’s historic fabric.
As you pass under the barrel-vaulted limestone ceilings or ascend the monumental, curved marble staircases, the changes designed by Page are intentionally invisible. Preservation analysis informed a strategic roadmap to guide decisions about equipment locations and threading of new systems through the structure. The team balanced energy efficiency and building performance with architectural sensitivity, ease of operations, and long term maintenance. Construction was carefully choreographed to minimize disruptions to the courts.
The most visible changes start at the top. A new 30,000-square-foot vegetative roof — one of the largest on a historic structure — reduces the urban heat island effect, decreases the building’s carbon footprint, and provides visual inspiration through seasonal flowering plants. A rainwater harvesting system with a 10,000-gallon holding capacity reduces the amount of rainwater outflow from the site and serves as “grey water” to reduce water use in the building by hundreds of thousands of gallons every year.
The best public architecture visibly embodies the principles of our nation while evolving to meet the current and future needs of its citizens. The General Services Administration’s larger vision of the LEED Gold Birch Bayh Federal Building inspired the design team to maximize the building’s potential as a sustainable model citizen — one that gives back to its community.
Strobe alarm systems installed are positioned to meet regulations, but with minimal impact on building walls.
The team recreated 6-foot round plaster medallions to accommodate the increased flow of the new air handling systems.
Plumbing was installed between walls to circulate rainwater from the green roof to bathroom utilities.
Sprinkler systems are discreetly placed and in some cases painted to blend with the original building walls.