Monthly Archives: May 2016



May 12

New Look Planned for Downtown Fort Wayne Arts Campus

Arts United is leading the effort to create a new look for the Arts Campus which could add additional space at the Arts United Center and create a more pedestrian-centric zone downtown. After a call for proposals earlier this year, the search for an architectural team to lead the project has been narrowed down to four semifinalists:

Design Collaborative (Fort Wayne, IN) and Ennead Architects (New York, NY)

Martin Riley (Fort Wayne, IN) and Quinn Evans Architects (Washington, DC and other locations)

Mills + Schnoering Architects (Princeton, NJ) and Bona Vita Architecture (Fort Wayne, IN)

Westlake Reed Leskosky (Cleveland, OH and other locations) and MKM architecture + design (Fort Wayne, IN)

The project will focus on renovation and preservation efforts for the Arts United Center, a 660-seat performance venue located at 303 E Main St. Completed in 1972, the iconic Arts United Center was designed by world-renowned architect Louis Kahn as part of a multi-building complex for the arts. It is the only Kahn building in the Midwest.

Kahn’s internationally recognized design legacy attracted interest from more than 36 firms in the United States and Europe. Fifteen proposals were submitted in response to a request for proposals distributed in January 2016. The master planning process will result in a variety of design options intended to improve the patron experience, increase community gathering space, enhance ADA-approved accessibility and integrate preservation upgrades for the building.

The project will also result in greater cohesion and continuity for the entire downtown Arts Campus by improving pedestrian connectivity to the nearby Landing, Riverfront Development, Freimann Square, and other downtown amenities.

“The international prestige of the architectural firms who submitted proposals speaks to the lasting power of Kahn’s original vision to co-locate arts institutions in a cluster of discipline-specific facilities,” said Madelane Elston, chair of the master planning committee. “The Arts Campus has evolved over the last 50 years to help arts organizations better engage the community, share resources, and pursue more creative collaborations.”

“As we position Fort Wayne as a national destination for arts, culture and quality of life, this project hits the target,” said Chuck Surack, founder of Sweetwater Sound and member of Arts United’s master planning committee.

Surack co-chaired a seminal cultural planning effort in 2015 with Arts United Board Chair Andrew Boxberger through which more than 2,000 community members provided input.  During that process, Arts United validated the need for continued investment in Fort Wayne’s strong foundation of arts and culture to help achieve regional goals to attract and retain talent outlined in the Road to One Million initiative.

“Arts United is committed to supporting a vibrant local arts scene, and that starts with world-class community space,” explained Boxberger. “Continued investment in the downtown Arts Campus sets our community apart from others who are also seeking to attract and retain a smarter, more creative and more global workforce.”

Arts United President Susan Mendenhall said, “Since its founding in 1955, Arts United has existed to bring focus and long-term planning for the arts. We envision a highly inclusive planning process that puts our stakeholders first by bringing them to the conceptual and design table with the architects.”

“Ultimately, Arts United will select a best-in-class architectural team that has the right combination of international vision and local representation needed to achieve the goals and aspirations expressed by our community leaders and diverse patrons,” said Doug Wood, Arts United board chair-elect and PNC Bank regional president for northern Indiana. “Together, we are ready to move the needle to create a more attractive downtown district.”

Arts Campus Map

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