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Barnes & Thornburg Lobby Renovation

Schmidt Associates


11 South Meridian Street


Barnes & Thornburg, LLP


  • General Contractor: Hokanson Companies

Project Status


Year Completed


Construction Cost

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Project Description


As the former Merchants National Bank flagship location, the historic fabric was flush with architectural elements and detailing. Despite years of being carved up to serve several retail ventures, the building’s original glory needed to be restored. The Team worked carefully to repair and enhance the historical elements, such as ornamental plaster brackets and egg-and-dart trim, incorporating them into the new space as highlighted features.
The project restored the existing 1” thick white marble floors and the green marble column bases, which had been severely altered during demolition of many of the original bank teller’s cages. A main stair – not original to the space – received new finishes and a new railing design which drew its inspiration from the jack-and-cross design of the second floor balustrade.

Original paint colors in the lobby space were researched to recreate the space in a historically correct manner and to inform the complementary colors to be used on new elements. Original materials such as plaster and marble were maintained throughout. New elements, such as the security and reception desks, were developed as simple, modern furniture so as not to compete with existing historical elements, but to connect to them through the use of wood tone and the jack-and-cross design. The new desks feature quartz countertops to maintain a consistency in the quality of materials with more neutral surface patterning.

Windows were replaced with large insulated glazing panels with a low-e coating for greater energy efficiency. The “new” doors in the lobby were salvaged from storage and refinished to work with the palette of the new space. An existing metal grille pattern was recreated in wood to serve as larger return air grilles.

The new reception desk, from its central location in the lobby, has an understated presence and a commanding view of the entry area and the surrounding sidewalks. The corporate signage behind it and the nearby historical teller’s cages utilize translucent glazing to allow some of the lobby’s light to pass through to the spaces beyond.
A new VAV mechanical system is discretely hidden above new ceiling “clouds.” Cut outs allow historical elements to be featured through the use of color and light as they are highlighted against the neutral palette of the surrounding walls, ceilings, and bulkheads. Original light fixtures on the ceiling beams and decorative sconces on the columns were refurbished to utilize LED lamps. All new light fixtures throughout the spaces utilize LED lamps.

The project did not pursue LEED certification, but it may be pursued in the future as more work in the building is completed in planned future phases. Barnes & Thornburg was dedicated to properly restoring the space with attention to detail and respect for the historically significant fabric to provide a finished product of which they could be proud.
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