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Dinos admire digs

Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The father and son Brachiosaurus peeking under the roof of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ addition know a good thing when they see it. They are spying on the welcome center, the centerpiece of a multi-dimensional project helped by Wilhelm Construction.

Wilhelm’s Dennis Burke, construction superintendent on the job, had the challenge of overseeing more than 20 subcontractors as they transformed RATIO Architects’ design into an eagerly awaited addition to a beloved attraction.

Wilhelm was able to meet an aggressive construction schedule to coincide with the opening of the traveling exhibit, King Tut. A new permanent exhibit entitled “Take Me There: Egypt,” opened at the same time.

The welcome center is a three-story expanded entrance reaching out to Illinois Street on the building’s west side. Several other aspects of the project took shape at the same time; the pedestrian bridge over Illinois Street was lengthened to connect a parking garage with the museum; a new passenger drop-off in front of the museum was created with cooperation from the Department of Public Works; the museum’s popular public library branch was moved and expanded; and the museum’s freight entrance was moved away from visitor traffic.

Two outdoor attractions were also part of the project: the “7 Wonders of the World” limestone sculptures and a rain garden to capture water before it flows into the city sewers.

Work proceeded on all these projects while the museum – home for everything from model trains and glass sculptures to a working carousel and planetarium – remained open for hundreds of daily visitors.

“We realized our vision for this project,” said Museum Vice President Craig Emsweller. “It was more than a building: we improved our safety and accessibility, and greened the campus.”

Emsweller was managing his first construction project for the museum. He said Wilhelm explained everything. “This company is incredibly well thought-of here. Their people had our best interests at heart.”

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