Barnes & Thornburg Vault Room Renovation

CSO’s Interior Design Studio partnered with Barnes & Thornburg, LLP to renovate an under-utilized asset at their national headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. Originally built in 1903 as a bank, their office at 11 S. Meridian Street still houses the original vault room in the lower level.

As is often the case, the client had ongoing relationships with other designers. However, they sought out CSO’s expertise when the other firms’ ideas for the space did not align with the client’s vision. CSO worked closely with the client to design the space, utilizing hand-drawn sketches and 3D renderings to align the client’s vision with designers’ interpretation.

The original space was comprised of multiple vaults, of varying sizes, within a larger secure area. Measuring at just 3,249 square feet, the space was going to need to maximize flexibility and style if it was going to satisfy the program. To accommodate the client’s goals for utilizing the space, the team also devised two furniture setups: lounge seating to support cocktail events or more casual gatherings, and a conference layout to support board meetings and other formal meetings. Each setup needed to look and function as if it was permanent so great care was taken to select pieces that looked substantial but could be easily moved.

Designers drew inspiration for detailing such as the scalloped frieze and oculus featured at the top of the walls from existing architecture in the client’s office and on the historic building. The primary, elaborate vault door was fully restored to become a focal point. When it was determined that one of the other vault doors needed to be removed it was deconstructed, with a portion of it becoming a feature inset into the floor. At either end of the newly created primary gathering space, bookcases are anchored with green safe deposit boxes which were intentionally preserved in their unrestored state, adding character to the design and embracing the vault’s storied journey.

As a subtle reference to height markers often seen in mugshots, the design team added a quirky tick mark detail set into the trim that frames each set of doors. Above each of the tick-mark details is a quatrefoil with a key-hole detail, personalizing the classic detailing to this unique project.

The result of the collaboration with the client is a uniquely branded space that is highly flexible. In a space that could easily have felt confined, designers achieved a warm elegance worthy of admiration by the client and visitors alike.