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Cummins to bring sustainable building design to former Market Square Arena site

DSC_2221-reduced-webOn a very soggy April 9, Cummins  Inc. officials joined Mayor Greg Ballard, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, Congressman Andre Carson and Indianapolis city council members to break ground for its new global distribution headquarters in downtown Indianapolis at the former Market Square Arena site.

With the help of F.A. Wilhelm Construction, Cummins will soon transform part of the historic site – former home of the Indiana Pacers and where musical giants Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson once performed – into a building and campus that embodies the engine manufacturer’s commitment to sustainability and future growth.

According to Sally Leyes, Indiana Corporate Services Director for Cummins, the new facility in Indianapolis will help Cummins meet new environmental sustainability goals for more efficient operational logistics. According to the company’s Sustainability Progress Report for 2014-2015, environmental sustainability, along with corporate responsibility, safety, diversity, and employee development are all important factors in the company’s continued success.  The new facility in downtown Indianapolis is being designed with all of these factors in mind.

The entire campus will cover about four acres. Part of that will provide space for an employee parking garage to ensure the Cummins facility doesn’t place an additional burden on the existing public parking available in the area. The current plans also devote an acre to green space with grass and trees and landscaping intermingled with public gathering spaces.

Cummins_Recap-Street---9-stories-reduced-webThe building itself will be a modern design, with nine floors surrounded by windows and full of light, and about 155,000 square feet of office space. Leyes said the floor plans are still being finalized but they will be based on ideas that have contributed to Cummins’ success. “We’re very intentional about our space and creating the right environment for our employees. We think about our space from a diversity perspective. We want to create a diverse set of work environments so that all employees can find the right kind of space that meets their needs to be productive,” she said.

Leyes described a floor plan that includes both focus areas to provide individual spaces for quiet concentration and places for “group huddles” where a number of people can actively collaborate. There will also be small group areas to facilitate private conversations. Social places are important too. Leyes said, “We know that often, just as much work gets done in chance meetings as in offices.” She added that the conference center will address a critical need for large meeting spaces and training facilities. The first floor will house retailers, which Leyes said will benefit not only Cummins employees but also the surrounding community.

“Thinking in new ways about what makes employees productive is just one part of Cummins’ success,” said Leyes. Environmental sustainability is also a key factor. “We have such a long history that Cummins seems like a very traditional company. We started from humble beginnings in a small town.  But our changing technology has helped us embrace the other kinds of changes needed to be successful.”

“You can see in our sustainability report we have a strong focus on sustainable initiatives like recycling and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Leyes. “We also use a lot of LEED principles in terms of environmentally responsible design.”

Cummins’ focus on sustainable design is one of the reasons Wilhelm Construction was selected for this project. “We interviewed a number of construction companies,” Leyes said. Noting the versatility of services Wilhelm can provide, she added, “We really like to partner with other companies whenever possible. Wilhelm was able to do the preconstruction work, participate in the design process and do the actual construction.”

Bill Spitler, Wilhelm’s project manager, said the site has presented some logistical challenges, but Wilhelm is prepared to handle them. He said the biggest challenge has been working in such close proximity to the three other large construction projects currently underway on the north, south, and east sides of the Cummins site. “We’re reasonably well contained right now,” Spitler said. “But, on any given day, we might have 200-250 workers onsite. And, with three other projects having workers onsite, getting equipment and materials onto the site can be challenging.”

The building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. Having worked with Wilhelm on other projects, Leyes said that she’s confident Wilhelm will be able to meet the costs and quality requirements of the project as well as the schedule.  “We’re really just getting started,” she said. “And the project is going very well.” Leyes said she’s excited for both Cummins and the city. “This campus is an opportunity for Cummins to have more of a front door in Indianapolis.  It’s going to be great for our employees, our customers, and our guests.”

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