The historic Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Indianapolis houses the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. A distinguished example of Beaux-Arts Architecture, the facility was constructed from 1902 to 1905 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The courthouse was renamed in honor of Senator Birch Bayh in 2003. Accommodating 925 federal employees, the original U-shape construction occupied an entire block, rose four stories, and housed federal courts, offices, and the region’s main post office.
The modernization of Birch Bayh invisibly transformed the monumental landmark into a “machine for sustainability.” The structure now measurably mitigates the site’s urban heat island effect, decreases the building’s carbon footprint, and adds hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to the city’s supply every year.
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.
- 540,000 GSF
- LEED Gold certified
- National Register of Historic Places
Awards & Honors
Award of Excellence in Historic Resources
GSA committed not only to preserving Birch Bayh but also to making the historic landmark a highly desirable, sustainable workplace – one that was also safe, comfortable, and secure – that helps the city keep and attract jobs.Workplace Strategy Historic Preservation
We extend the useful life of buildings, enabling them to conform to current requirements for program, code, performance, and brand, while incorporating elements of enduring value. It's a sustainable, cost-effective opportunity for clients to realize a "new" facility.Modernization
Robert P. Theel, FAIA
The work achieved by this team for the American public is a stand-out example of thoughtful restraint combined with creative engineering and design ingenuity.
Building the Green Roof
Prior to renovation, only 15% of Birch Bayh’s 2.33-acre site supported vegetation. With the addition of a 30,000 GSF vegetative roof - one of the largest on a historic structure – 43% of the site now sustains vegetation, supporting the goal of creating a highly desirable, sustainable workplace. The vegetative roof reduces the urban heat island effect, improves air quality by absorbing CO2, reduces storm water runoff from the site, and provides visual inspiration through seasonal flowering plants.Resource Efficiency
A new stormwater recovery system provides non-potable water for select building functions, conserving potable municipal water and reducing stormwater runoff into the antiquated water collection system.
A 10,000-gallon capacity stormwater harvesting system provides non-potable water for public restrooms and the site irrigation system. The 30,000 GSF vegetative roof absorbs and utilizes rain to feed the plants. Together the two systems are capable of reducing the building's annual use of municipal water by an average of 270,000 gallons, a reduction of 70% compared to pre-renovation use of potable water for these same functions.
The water harvesting systems and vegetative roof also benefit Indianapolis by significantly decreasing stormwater runoff into the city's 19th-century combined municipal storm and sewer system .
Matthew Chalifoux, FAIA
The Birch Bayh project, to me, is the embodiment of the direction that preservation as a design discipline is moving: fully integrated with all the other design disciplines.
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