Indiana University Research & Creative Activity

Visual Arts

Volume XXVII Number 2
Spring 2005

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architect's drawing
Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hall

Building the Arts

by Lauren J. Bryant

Even on an overcast, gray, and drizzly day, the light filtering through the ceiling-high windows of the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis is plentiful, illuminating large canvases of student painters at work. But the light also reveals the school’s age.

In use since the early 1900s, the Herron buildings at 16th and Pennsylvania streets in Indianapolis have grown outmoded, and they’ve been bursting at the seams for some time. Herron’s enrollment has doubled over the past 10 years to more than 850 degree-seeking students. The crunch has led the school to lease other sites, scattering studios, classrooms, and offices across seven buildings. But all that is about to change, as the school moves this spring into a new 170,000-square-foot home that is itself a work of art.

Herron Dean Valerie Eickmeier talks enthusiastically about the new building: “It is a beautifully designed building and an exceptional facility for an art and design school. Everything about it is first-rate. It’s wonderful—bigger, better, and updated in the way art schools need to be today. It will be noted as one of the best in the country.”

The building features more than 70 art and design studios, graduate studios, four galleries, sculpture gardens, a comprehensive art library, a grand hall, a student lounge, conference rooms, a gallery gift shop, up-to-date technologies, and other amenities that will enhance the school’s academic programs and give it plenty of room to expand.

To realize the $26.5 million project, Herron had to raise two-thirds of the building budget privately. As of early 2005, the school was seeking the last $2.5 million to conclude the campaign. Eickmeier sees the fundraising success as “a very good indicator that Herron is respected and valued. People are willing to invest in our future.” She points out that several of the major donors are key Indianapolis businesses and foundations, such as Eli Lilly and Co., who see a clear connection between the arts and economic development. “They understand that a city that promotes vibrant arts and culture in the community will also attract new businesses and highly skilled professionals.”

Herron School of Art and Design is “not just a professionally accredited art and design school,” Eickmeier notes, “but also a cultural institution serving the broader community” by offering gallery exhibitions, public art opportunities, film series, children’s programming, adult continuing education, summer programs, and more.

Named after Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, the new Herron building is located along the western edge of Military Park on the IUPUI campus. Integrating Herron into the campus was always part of the plan, says Eickmeier, although it’s taken decades to achieve. Now, IUPUI students, the Indianapolis community, and Herron’s students will benefit from close proximity and the new facility. “It will foster more partnerships, collaborations, and art and design experiences for all,” says Eickmeier.

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