CSO Assoicate Principal Dan Brueggert Featured on Indiana’s Lakeshore Public Radio

On Monday, February 4th, Dan Brueggert, CSO Associate Principal and the President of IAF was featured on Indiana’s Lakeshore Public Radio to discuss the “Indiana Architecture Database”. Chris Nolte, host and producer of “Regionally Speaking”, spoke with Dan about The Indiana Architectural Foundation (IAF), a 501c3 non-profit organization, founded in 1973 with the core mission of supporting architectural education, enhancing public awareness of architecture, and preserving Indiana’s architectural legacy.

Read a transcription of the interview below, or click play to listen to an audio clip.


Chris Nolte: The Indiana Architectural Foundation has come up with a great idea, to not only show off all of the buildings and sights around the Hoosier state that celebrate design here in Indiana, but help to add to that list as well too. It’s a new database that’s been created, and to tell us more about it, we have the president of the Indiana Architectural Foundation, Indianapolis architect, Dan Brueggert with us. Thanks for joining us on Regionally Speaking, today.

Dan Brueggert: Thank you Chris, so much, for having me today.

Chris Nolte: Well, I’m glad that you’re with us. For folks that are not familiar with the Indiana Architectural Foundation, take a few moments and explain for us how the foundation got started, what you all do and then you can tell how this new database is going to expand the knowledge people can have about the great places to check out historical sites as well as architectural eye-sights.

Dan Brueggert: Sure, just a bit of history first, the Indiana Architectural Foundation, or the IAF as we call it for short, is a 501c3 non-profit organization. It was founded in 1973 with three main core goals; one, to support architectural education. We’ve been hosting a scholarship program for students for decades now and every year we round up some of the best students that are residents of the state of Indiana, studying architecture. We go out and try to find scholarship money for them and then we give them that money so they can enhance their education and ultimately their career. In fact, last week on Monday, we presented about twenty-two thousand dollars’ worth of scholarships to twelve deserving students. A second goal of our organization is to enhance the public awareness of architecture. And the third goal is to preserve Indiana’s architectural legacy. So this database that you spoke about, really serves the latter two goals; enhancing public awareness of architecture and preserving Indiana’s architectural legacy.

Chris Nolte: When you have the opportunity to seek out these local spots, you probably knew about a number of these locations anyways. I know that, probably, the Indiana Foundation that handles preservation here in the Hoosier state has probably put many of these on their lists, but you were able to add something more to it. How did the database that you have with these first fifty sights come about?

Dan Brueggert: Sure, so we have a project probably every ten years in our organization, which we call a milestone project. In times before, it’s been an actual physical book publication, and I like books as much as everybody, but I think we realized that a digital platform would perhaps be a little bit more timeless and also have a broader reach. So the first thing we did is we sat down with a group of researchers and we met with historic preservation specialists from Ball State University and graduate students of historic preservation from Ball State University. They helped us develop this list of these first fifty sites all over Indiana, and I think as you know, and your listeners are probably aware, there are some places in Indiana, like Columbus, that are recognized as a Mecca of architecture, deservedly so. They’ve got so many great buildings in just that city alone. What we tried to do though, is we tried to cast a really wide net and look all over the state to look at every single region of the state to find buildings to comprise this launch for the first fifty buildings. What we also tried to do, we tried to look for a variety of building types. A building wouldn’t have to be, let’s say, a cathedral or a skyscraper for it be great architecture. It could be fairly mundane functioning building, like a bridge or something like that, and still be notable. So we tried; a, to reach across the state; b, to find buildings that had a wide range of purposes and programs; lastly, we tried to find a wide range of time periods and eras. We didn’t want them all to be historic, we didn’t want them all to be modern, and we tried to get a pretty good grab bag of each one.

Chris Nolte: Now for Northwest Indiana, there are many sites that people are aware of and there are probably more that are well known, in particular for their architectural stand-point, I guess the ones you think of in particular are the ones that came about from Chicago, the ones from the Century Progress Presentation, that ended up going across Lake Michigan and across Northern Indiana.

Dan Brueggert: Yeah, we’ve got that list on the site. The Century of Progress Architectural District, these were homes that were built, almost as prototypes of what people in that era, in about the early 1930’s, what they envisioned the future of architecture, residential architecture to be. So if you look at the website and you look at the Century of Progress homes, or if you visit this site in person, you’re going to see what’s left of that exhibition, which includes about five houses, each one in a very different style, each one with a very different outlook on what the architecture of the house could be. Some of them are historic visions of futurism that did not come to pass, others of them, really were quite forward thinking and did come to fruition on how those are built today, which is a fascinating example in itself and it is right up there in Northwestern Indiana.

Chris Nolte: Are there any others up here in this quadrant of the state that are on this initial list of fifty that are on the database?

Dan Brueggert: There is the Michigan City Lighthouse for example, right on the shore of Lake Michigan. It’s a beautiful structure built in 1858. The database gives some information about the structure itself. What we try to do on each listing is to provide a lot of boiler plate background information, for example, who the architect was, what style the building is, when it was constructed, what it’s constructed out of, but we also include some special information that would tell people if it’s on a historic national register or database of some kind, and also let people know if any of these structures are open to the public for tours. Many of them on the list of fifty are open to the public for tours. The other part we try to include on the database is what we call a significant statement, this explains why any particular entry on the list is deserving; it could be a good example of an architectural style, it could be the last left remaining example of that style. It could have been a forerunner in some other innovative way.

Chris Nolte: With your colleagues there with the IAF, who put together this initial database and you search around the state, you find these organizations that offered up how these buildings, old and new, and how Indiana’s economy and culture seems to be really tied, very closely, to design?

Dan Brueggert: We found that in particular, I think I mentioned Columbus earlier in our conversation, Columbus has done a really good example of marketing itself, from an architecture and design standpoint, to get people to visit that city, specifically, to see architecture or to visit buildings, but you don’t have to stop there. I think Madison, Indiana, down on the Ohio River, is another great example. If you walk down the main street of Madison, you’re probably going to walk with your neck craned up and your mouth agape just looking at the level of detail and beauty of the buildings that line that main street. And there are countless examples of them in Madison itself. New Harmony, Indiana, down in the Southwest region of the state, for being such a tiny town, it’s currently got about three buildings on the database. One that’s really interesting, in particular, is a roofless church, that the famous architect, Phillip Johnson, designed. It’s a little non-denominational church and chapel in kind-of an interesting organic form. Even though it was built in1960, it’s much more akin to the kind of form and shape you’d see in modern architecture today. But you’re right, we’ve had a lot of great success in reaching out to small communities and large communities. People really get excited about being able to share that unique structure that’s in their backyard; that thing that might draw people from far away to see what they’ve got to offer.

Chris Nolte: Now Dan, if anyone is interested in seeing the list as you have it right now of the fifty significant buildings and sites in the database, how you can find it and if you have an idea how can you add to the list as well.

Dan Brueggert: Yeah, absolutely. The list itself can be seen on our website, which is www.architectureindiana.com. Again, we know that it’s woefully incomplete as it is today. We just had to pick fifty to get an initial launch, but our goal is to add to that list. The additions to that list will of course include, not only historic buildings, but we’d like to add modern buildings to that list. We don’t yet have a link or a way on that website for people to make suggestions about proposing future buildings to add to that list, but if you look at our IAF website, which is www.indianaarchitecturalfoundation.org, and you go to the tab that says “Board Members”, you’ll find myself listed and there’s a link to my work e-mail. Anyone is more than welcome to send me an e-mail personally. Again, go to www.indianaarchitecturefoundation.org, look for Dan Brueggert, and you will see a link to my e-mail. We’d love to hear from you, we’d love to get suggestions on great old buildings and great new buildings around the state that we could potentially add to this database.

Chris Nolte: Well Dan, fifty may not seem to be very many in a database, but as you say, you have to start from someplace. And being just a beginning, it’s a great way to get off to a good start and we hope that you do get many more suggestions of buildings all across the Hoosier state that will be qualified for this database to come soon. Thanks for spending some time to talk about it today.

Dan Brueggert: Thank you so much for having me.

Chris Nolte: You’re welcome. Again, Dan Brueggert is the president of the Indiana Architectural Foundation.