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The Convention Center

In 1972, the Indiana Convention Center, in downtown Indianapolis, was built with less that 200,000 square feet.

Roughly every decade since then there has been an expansion.  Keeping a convention center up to date is essential for a city’s economic drive.

Today, however, Indianapolis wanted to be in direct competition with other “Tier I” convention cities.   Thus, more national conventions will come bringing with them more tourism for Indianapolis, boosting that economic drive.  That would mean almost doubling in size.  Therefore, the latest expansion was a huge undertaking and made the Convention Center jump from being the 32nd largest to the 16th largest convention center in the US with 749,000 square feet.

The phase V expansion would consist of adding 295,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, 27 new truck docks, the complete renovation of a 2-block section of Capitol Avenue, and an enclosed walkway from the convention center to Lucas Oil Stadium.  So, this phase had to be done strategically it had to be done right the first time.  

The phase V expansion of the Indiana Convention Center followed closely behind the completion of Lucas Oil Stadium, one block away.  The new stadium had to be in place before the razing of the old RCA Dome so the Indianapolis Colts could host their home games.  The removal of the RCA Dome would allow for the largest expansion of the Convention Center facility to date.

Some of the challenges of the project were the urban location which required detailed phasing of construction to allow for storage of materials and equipment, the demolition of the RCA Dome facility while maintaining the use of the connected convention center, a new truck access drive that would end up only 15’ away from a series of elevated rail lines 20’ above grade and working around (and over and under) numerous existing utility lines that cross through the site.

The project started with The Schneider Corporation preparing a boundary and topographic survey of the entire Convention Center/RCA Dome site.  The design team, which was made up of over 25 different consultants, including Schneider as the lead civil engineer, began working toward a construction start date that would coincide with the completion of Lucas Oil Stadium.

As the project progressed, Schneider’s scope grew to include the oversight of a special structural consultant brought in to design a retaining wall that varied in height from about 12’ to over 20’ and held up several rail beds.  The partial demolition and reconstruction of a railroad bridge was also added to the project scope.  Later in the project, the design of a new ramp to access the railroad property was added.  As a part of Schneider’s scope, a section of Capitol Avenue that connects the Indiana Convention Center with Lucas Oil Stadium was designed to reconfigure and convert one of the traffic lanes into a pedestrian/bike trail that winds through the city.

The expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and the pedestrian access improvements along Capitol Avenue were key components of the City’s “Super Bowl Village” concept that proved to be very successful in hosting the Super Bowl in February of 2012.  Besides hosting the Super Bowl, the improvements have made it possible for the City to host a number of large conventions that would not have been possible otherwise.