Patrick Ward was off campus working at an internship and searching for an elective when a class called CAP:Indy Sign caught his attention. Mainly because he had no idea what the title meant.

Patrick Ward

Nick Kiefer

Had he been in the building, he couldn’t have missed the 17-foot sign being built in the CAP atrium.

As it was, he did a little investigating, roped in his friend Nick Kiefer, and became part of history, documenting a stunning immersive learning experience that defines Ball State’s Indianapolis presence.

Twenty students took part in the three-semester process to envision, build, and install the two-sided lighted steel sign which fronts on Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis where it marks the university’s presence in the Elevator Hill area (formerly the Angie’s List campus). Professor Timothy Gray and Christopher Battaglia, then a design innovation fellow and assistant teaching professor, guided the project. Along the way students worked with university administration to ensure the Ball State brand was featured prominently, managed the project budget, and even initiated the permitting process with the city of Indianapolis.

“It was important that our students and faculty play a role in helping to brand this effort,” says CAP Dean Dave Ferguson. “Prof. Gray and his students epitomized excellence in design and construction throughout the process of creating a sign installation that sets a perfect tone for our new identity.”

Partner firms AZZ Galvanizing and Mid-west Metal Products assisted with the work and gave tours of their facilities to the student teams.

The student team designed, budgeted, prepared permit documents and did all fabrication and installation on the project. State-of-the-art digital fabrication equipment along with technical expertise and assistance was made available to the students through project partner Muncie-based Midwest Metals.

View the booklet here CAP Indy Sign Booklet

Members of the fabricating team designed and milled 30 individual panels at the Midwest Metals facility, creating a distinctive custom pattern in the field of panels which “dances” as motorists and pedestrians pass on the street, creating a distinctive and artistic effect, says Gray.

For Ward, the problem-solving skills he picked up as he helped to install the signage were invaluable. Kiefer discovered a knack for curating the hundreds of photos taken across the span of the project, selecting the best for the 74-page book the two created to document the process.

Both members of the documentation team are fifth-year architecture students. Ward will finish classes this summer and is working remotely for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kiefer, who graduates in May, has a full-time job lined up at Halstead Architects in Indianapolis after graduation in May.

Watch the video about the instillation.