Rundell Ernstberger Associates, LLC

Disciplines: land planning, urban design, landscape architecture | City: Indianapolis, IN | Trend for Scope of Work: larger, public works
Date Visited: 10.04.12

Location: 618 E. Market Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
Firm Size: 16
Founded: 1983

Cofounded in 1983 by partners Deane Rundell and Eric Ernstberger, Rundell Ernstberger Associates, LLC found its origins in Muncie, IN, the home city to Ball State University. Branding themselves as one of the most creative and talented firms in the midwest, the award-winning firm has since laid root in two more offices in Indiana and Kentucky. Most recently, they’ve been taking to the spotlight for redesigning the face of downtown Indianapolis towards a less car-dependent and more sustainable future.

I visited REA at their new office location–they had just moved there in March 2012–down on Market Street in 618 Studio, a rehabbed industrial warehouse. The office is pretty neat, especially since they share the building with Axis Architects–the two offices are linked by a common space with kitchen and dining–with whom they’ve collaborated on design projects before, such as The Nature Conservancy’s LEED Platinum Efroymson Conservation Center located just a few blocks away.

I sat down with Carl Kincaid (Principal) and Brian McNerney (Design Associate) at their Indianapolis office, where half their staff is located. Primarily a midwestern firm, REA’s focus often covers larger, public projects in states spanning Kentucky to South Dakota. Most of their employees are Ball State University graduates, unsurprising given that REA’s been the campus planners for Ball State for the past thirty-some years.

We also talked about their key work in Indianapolis that drew my attention to their firm: the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. This massive project that is set to revolutionize Indianapolis as a more pedestrian and cycling-friendly city was one of the few transportation projects that was given a coveted portion of the federal grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. It was great to talk to REA about the project because much of the project’s design and funding actually went towards underground infrastructure–important components that aren’t readily evident by the naked eye. Over half of the funds are estimated to have gone towards underground infrastructure, such as the rerouting of electrical lines and soil remediation. Because of the Cultural Trail’s unique layout–sections of the trail incorporate two lanes of cycling traffic into 16-foot wide trails–traffic lanes and signals had to be reworked and rerouted as well. So although the Cultural Trail is still incredibly impressive above ground, it’s really a shame how much design and construction work isn’t seen by the general public.

Other projects in Indianapolis that I visited include the aforementioned Efroymson Conservation Center and the Glick Peace Walk.

When asked to describe their firm’s philosophy, Carl Kincaid, one of the REA Principals, replied: “making well-rounded landscape architects.” One of the aspects of their firm that they pride themselves the most on is their dedication to carrying a project through from the concept phases to the ribbon cutting at the grand opening. Along with a fastidious attention to detail, REA tries to be involved in a project every step of the way, from visiting the nursery and personally selecting the plants for a project to overseeing construction work.

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