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Better Know an LF Project: Prindle Institute of Ethics

Posted by on 7/17/13 at 12:38pm

Located within walking distance of the DePauw Campus, the Prindle Institute of Ethics lies within the 500-acre DePauw University Nature Park, situated above an abandoned limestone quarry.  The Institute’s facilities, positioned around a central courtyard, include conference rooms, an auditorium, a library, dining rooms, and guest suites capable of hosting visiting scholars.  The central courtyard not only serves as a visual connection for the building’s users, but also provides views to the natural environment  for public spaces within the building.


Answers by Todd Wascher and Andrew Herdeg

Location: DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana
Client:  DePauw University
Year Completed:  2007
LF Scope:  Programming, SD, DD
LEED Certification: Gold
Project Team:  David Lake, Andrew Herdeg, Todd Wascher, Betsy Johnson, Jonathan Smith
Architect of Record: CSO Schenkel Shultz

The Story:  The project was an invited competition against Miller Hull, Bill McDonough, and a third firm from New York.   In the end, I believe we did a better job than the competition of conveying the idea that creating a strong relationship between the inhabitants of the conference center and the nature park would be key to the success of the facility and its mission.



Most Valuable Consultant: Structural Engineer:  Lynch, Harrison & Brumleve, Inc.

Program:  The Prindle Institute for Ethics, located on the 520-acre DePauw University Nature Park, includes conference facilities, auditorium, library, dining rooms, offices, and a kitchen.

The Crux:  We wanted to leverage the site with the experience of being located in a public nature preserve.  At the same time, the public thought of the nature park as belonging to the community, not DePauw. With this in mind we strived to minimize the structures’ impact on the park as much as possible.




Favorite Detail:

Todd Wascher’s: Truss Details with glu-lam chords.

Betsy Johnson’s: Custom trusses were super cool. I also loved the Indiana limestone blocks, layered ‘trellis-like’ ceilings and the main auditorium with a view to the woods.

Interesting Material:  Limestone Blocks

If I Could Change One Thing:

AH:  The biggest challenge was the landscape. Unfortunately, we found out at the end of SD that our site was a pile of spoils from the abandoned stone quarry and that we would essentially have to remove the top 5′ of the hill along with all of its landscape in order to build a safe foundation. Consequently, there was not a stitch of landscape left when the building was complete. Every tree or shrub had to be imported, and our landscape budget could not afford this. It seemed quite bare when it opened.