Ideas and inspiration for professionals

A lot has changed in a very short amount of time for all of us. Businesses around the country have had to do some major maneuvering to keep the health of the employees and clients as the very top priority.

At Cripe, that’s no different. After over a year of extensive research, testing and implementation, we can say that our employees have the ability to work from anywhere. With all the COVID-19 guidelines going into place, that remote capability has never been more important.

Outside of the technology, another thing that Cripe is continuing to utilize is our proven project management skills. Being physically away from our teams and unable to meet with our clients in person has provided new challenges, but it is definitely a challenge we are up for.

We have the methodology – the Cripe Way –  in place to get us through this current challenge and many others, but it is not just a methodology we use when there are extenuating circumstances. This is a way of doing things that we use every single day and have since 1937 when our founder, Paul I. Cripe, created his core principles.

The Cripe Way stems from Mr. Cripe’s deep belief in Accountability. Over the years, especially with recent staff, it has been turned into an entire project management code of conduct and promise to our clients that we will get any job done with communication and efficiency.

Mr. Cripe may not have expected for his core principle of Accountability to be utilized during a time like the one we are living in now, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The beauty of the Cripe Way is that it works all the time, no matter what is going on in the office or the world at large, as we are learning now.

Above all else, the Cripe Way stresses the importance of planning, communication and meetings with clients so that we know exactly what our clients need , schedules to keep everyone and budgets on track, quality control along the way to ensure efficiency and understanding not only our client’s businesses, but their perspectives as well. The only thing that has changed are our meeting spaces and perhaps managing how to work with partners, children and pets, but those things are no match for the Cripe Way and the project management skills Cripe employees have been sharpening for the last 83 years.

We don’t only use these skills externally, but internally as well. We’ve been keeping connected with our colleagues through virtual meetings and sharing tips and tricks for the unique challenges that working from home can pose. From technology tips to potty training to setting up effective workspaces we’ve shared it all!

The Cripe Way allows room for us to feel like a family. These aren’t cold rules that are only intended for projects, they allow our team to act as a family to one another and to those outside our team who are also working through a wide range of unique situations during this uncertain time.

While many things have changed, some have not. You can still find our field survey team out and about in Indianapolis and surrounding areas putting the Cripe Way to good use as they continue to tend to essential business outside while all is quiet.

This time has been challenging for most people, but Cripe is using foundations that were put in place over 80 years ago to continue to serve our clients, partners and colleagues to continue to not only get the job done, but to get it done with the same excellent project management skills that our clients and partners have come to know and rely on over the years.

Our two first clients in 1937 are still our clients today.

Yes. You read that right. We have had our first clients remain loyal clients for 83 years. Here at Cripe, we think that means we’re doing something right.

There are so many things that go into making these lasting partnerships happen. Paul I. Cripe built an outstanding foundation all those years ago and we’re proud to say that we continue to build on these foundations, update them to serve the needs of existing and new clients and utilize new technologies to meet the ever-evolving and modern demands of the various industries we serve.

To maintain such long-lasting client relationships though, Mr. Cripe understood that there was a bigger, more holistic picture than just delivering innovative design solutions. He created core values which included, Accountability, Integrity and Community Service.

He turned those values into a blueprint comprising of The Cripe Way, Cripe Leadership Model and Cripe Charitable Foundation. These all still stand today in order to best serve all our clients across our internal departments and external market sectors and industries.

The Cripe Way is many things, but overall it embodies the quote Mr. Cripe liked best: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This simple saying is known by every single employee at Cripe and they live it every day with every client and their colleagues. The Cripe Way is a project management tool that we live by at Cripe so that we can serve our clients without having details fall through the cracks. Above all else, it stresses the importance of communications and meetings with clients so that we know exactly what they’re looking for, schedules to keep everyone on track, quality control along the way to ensure efficiency and understanding not only our client’s businesses, but their perspectives as well.

The Cripe Leadership Model is more of an internal structure that we use to measure how well our employees are doing across several markers that we find highly important at Cripe. These values range from professionalism to living Cripe values. Checking in like this and having important conversations about internal performance ensures that we are giving our absolute best to our clients. Our employees are always willing to learn and grow to continue to best serve not only the clients, but their colleagues as well.

If you’ve been following us or reading our blogs, you know how important community service is. With the establishment of the Cripe Charitable Foundation, we’ve donated over a million education focused dollars, our employees volunteer over 65 hours per year on average and our employees support over 132 community organizations of their choosing. We are invested in our clients of course, but that goes so much further that providing design solutions. We’re invested in improving the communities in which we live, work and play and those communities include our clients, their businesses and even their families.

83 years after Mr. Cripe laid the foundations, employees are still living by those values and that’s why we can proudly say that we’ve had a few of the same clients since our founding in 1937.

1937 seems like a long time ago and it really was. Cripe had a simple beginning as a survey firm. It was not the firm of 2020 that it is now, providing architecture and civil engineering in addition to the original survey services. And those services just skim the surface. We’ve expanded into medical equipment planning, real estate services, interior design work and so much more.

83 years may seem like a long time, but we haven’t stopped moving and growing and expanding into new services and market sectors. Over those 83 years we’ve done projects from airports to college campuses to parks to hospitals. We’re not stopping there either. In the last few years, we’ve increased our focus on re-purposing previously standing spaces and sustainability.

 

Don’t be alarmed when you see that Cripe has been in business since 1937. It doesn’t mean our business practices are stagnant. Our employees and leadership are constantly learning and bettering themselves as architects, engineers and surveyors. Continuing to educate ourselves is so important and continuing to enhance our practices with new technology has made us the firm we are today and the firm we are continuing to grow into.

The foundation of our company laid out by Paul I. Cripe is still strong underneath the new practices we’ve utilized. To this day, our company culture revolves around the principles laid down by our founder.

Mr. Cripe understood that to holistically serve our clients, delivering innovative design solutions was not the whole picture. He believed a firm must embody the core values of Accountability, Integrity and Community Service. This valued blueprint brought into being The Cripe Way (Accountability), Cripe Leadership Model (Integrity) and Cripe Charitable Foundation (Community Service).

Every team member knows the story of the watch. In the early years, Mr. Cripe pawned his prized pocket watch to meet payroll. The watch – a living reminder of true servant leadership and accountability– sits in our CEO’s office today. When Mr. Cripe said, “If It is to be; it’s up to me” – he meant it – and so do we.

What does this mean for you? Whether you are a client, a partner firm, a community partner or anyone else know that our celebrated project management skills that were set down from the beginning and sharpened over time will get the results you want. Our staff, comprised of lifelong learners, will get the job done no matter what obstacles, known or unknown, come their way.

We understand that we are part of a community bigger than ourselves. We give our very best to each project, knowing that it will enhance the community whether it is a college campus, skate park or medical office building. We also know how important it is to give back to those communities in which we work, live and play. As a company we participate in many philanthropic events a year, going so far as to dedicate one whole day a year as our Day of Service. In addition, we do a Giving Tree holiday drive that benefits a family in our community and our interns choose a philanthropic organization and organize events and fundraisers to benefit that organization over the summer they spend at Cripe.

It doesn’t stop there. Cripe employees are so active in the community on their own that we host an award ceremony to recognize the change these employees are enacting in their communities and it’s always hard for the committee to choose just one winner each year.

83 years is a very long time. But we’re not frozen in time at Cripe. Each and every one of those years has brought us to new heights in the design services we offer and our community impact. We couldn’t get to those heights if it weren’t for the very solid foundation laid down in 1937 by Paul I. Cripe. Here’s to the next 83!

The end of a year is often a time to look forward to the coming year and all the changes that could come with that new year. It is also a time to look back on the past year and the traditions that have stood for a long time.

At Cripe, we have many traditions, but we seem to really pack them in at the end of the year. From community service to spending time with our colleagues and celebrating their achievements there is a lot going on from November to Christmas.

This year, we merged a couple of traditions. In mid-November, we combined our annual Day of Service with our Founder’s Day Celebration.

The day started with the intention of packing 10,000 meals at Million Meal Movement. It quickly became apparent that we were going to accomplish that goal early. By the end of our allotted time we had packed nearly 13,000 meals, blowing way past our original goal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following our morning of community service, we went to TopGolf to enjoy good food and the company of our colleagues. Before the friendly competition could begin, we celebrated those of our coworkers who give so much back to their communities. It was a hard decision for the judges to choose between so many people who do so much. The prize for one dedicated winner is the Isla M. Badger Community Service Award, an award that was established in 1987 by the Cripe Charitable Foundation and which awards $1,000 to the 501(3)c of the winner’s choice.

This year there were nominees who serve their churches, their local pet rescues, tutor homeless students, volunteer with the young community of aspiring architects, and so much more. It was truly inspiring to see how much impact the Cripe family has on their communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, the golfing began!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the celebrations were over, we set out on the important annual work of our Giving Tree initiative.

Each year we pick a deserving family who is experiencing some extenuating circumstances around the holidays and we provide them with gifts and necessities to lighten their load.

This year, we worked with Andrew J. Brown Academy to select a family and find out what they most wanted and needed this holiday season. We had a kick-off discussion at our monthly Cripe Huddle and then it was off to shopping. Within a few days, there was no room left under our office Christmas tree as everyone made contributions to the family.

When it was time to deliver the items to the family’s house the week before Christmas, it took several cars to do so. The family was beyond grateful and hearts were warmed at Cripe when the exchange was retold by the few that attended.

Our traditions are what make us unique, what bind us together as more than just coworkers. After a year of working hard and achieving goals within the office, we understand the importance of stepping back and focusing on serving others as well as spending time outside of the office with the people we spend our time with in the office.

Tomorrow we’ll look forward to the New Year, but today we’re going to think about the past year and the impact it had on us all.

Happy New Year from the Cripe family to you and yours!

By Christopher Reinhart, Director | Sustainability + Research

Complexity and Order. A rich field of sensory information that contains hierarchy and thematic organization. The plaza outside Bloomington City hall opens up for a delightful moment of urban prospect. Having moments to view our surroundings over a bit of distance, especially within urban environments, is wonderfully calming. Here, the experience is coupled with the richness of natural and built forms that play off of one another through a landscape that riffs on the local heritage of connection to stone (quarrying) and wood (furniture-making).

On a crisp and sunny morning early this month, a small group started our day sipping toasty coffee and nibbling on tasty lemon poppyseed muffins from the local co-op, Bloomingfoods. We sat on the sunny outdoor plaza on the south side of The Mill, “Bloomington’s center of gravity for innovators, remote workers, entrepreneurs, and creators,” where Cripe’s Bloomington office is located. This lovely outdoor space is at the heart of the Trades District, a focal point of recent and continuing development in the city. We gathered here not just to enjoy some camaraderie, our morning treats, and a beautiful Bloomington day, but also to discuss biophilia and biophilic design, and how we find it around us in the spaces we inhabit each day.

This event was hosted by the Bloomington Living Future Collaborative, a local advocacy group which I co-facilitate, dedicated to the restorative work of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), whose mission is to “lead the transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative.” There are many local collaboratives around the country and the world, like ours, that provide education and engagement opportunities in our local communities to encourage positive transformation of our built environment.

And on this delightful fall morning, we weren’t the only ones gathered to discuss the human-nature connection and how it can be expressed through design to enrich our daily lives. In Columbus, Ohio, another Living Future Collaborative was gathered around the same concept. The idea to have these gatherings in various cities throughout the Ohio Valley was the brainchild of Andy McIntyre, Regional Sales Manager for Kingspan Insulated Panels. At the Living Future “unConference” several years ago, Andy heard that the collaborative in Australia had a done a “walking beauty tour,” and the idea stuck with him.

As Andy thought about doing a similar event here stateside, he realized that it would be a great opportunity to build regional connections. “The Ohio Valley region has all these things in common… when you look at the climate and the building archetypes, the people doing business in the region, the people designing in these areas… we all have a lot in common in terms of our challenges and similarities,” he told me. Based on a suggestion from ILFI’s Sunni Wissmer, Andy decided to call the event #ResilientBeauty—the hashtag being a way that participants from around the region could tag the photos that we took on our walks so that we could all see what others were up to. Searching the hashtag would yield a tapestry of photographs highlighting the beauty and human-nature connection expressed throughout the Ohio Valley region. The title also references the upcoming Building Resilience conference, in Cleveland, Ohio on November 7 and 8.

What lies beyond? Mystery. One of the evolved human-nature connections of biophilia. Hints that beckon us through sight, sound, or smell. The B-Line Trail in Bloomington offers moments of mystery and anticipation along its curving path.

As we round the bend on the B-Line at the Showers plaza, the trail spills into a space of biomorphic forms and patterns, material connections with nature, and complexity and order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In both Columbus and here in Bloomington, the event began with a discussion and overview of biophilia and biophilic design. The scientist E.O. Wilson has described biophilia as the innate connection between humans and nature. Biophilic design is an approach that centers around this connection, seeks to understand the physiological and psychological effects it has on people, and develops patterns for practically implementing these ideas into designs. At the forefront of this practice is Terrapin Bright Green, a firm that has published many wonderful resources on the web related to biophilic design. In Bloomington, we used their report “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design: Improving Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment” as the basis for our conversation.

As we talked through the various patterns of biophilic design, participants shared ways that they have experienced these patterns in their homes, workplaces and cities. This conversational approach allowed everyone, even those not previously familiar with biophilic design, to get a feel for the concepts and patterns that we would be looking for as we explored the B-Line Trail, a rails-to-trails project that forms a curving spine—the backbone of our pedestrian and bicycle network—that runs through our city and adjacent to The Mill. Attendees were given a handout with the patterns listed to refer back to during our walk on the B-Line, as we sought to find these patterns expressed around us.

This sculpture at Bloomington’s City Hall has material connections to nature (a local material, limestone, and check out the detailed biomorphic sculptural textures in the upper left), and also provides a place of refuge for Farmer’s Market goers that are looking for a quiet moment away from the bustle.

Refuge. A space where individuals can feel protected from behind and overhead and out of the flow of activity. Another of the evolved human-nature connections of biophilia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our group began as a small core of four people, but as we walked, talked, and photographed our way along the B-Line and through the Farmer’s Market, we engaged many more friends that we encountered in our adventure. I was delighted to see some of our participants eagerly sharing their new knowledge with others. Biophilic design is easy-to-understand, and once you begin seeing the patterns at work, you can start to see them expressed in big and small ways all around us. Everyone left the event in great spirits and with a much better understanding of biophilic design.

The Columbus, Ohio, event was also a big success, drawing fourteen people. Johnna Keller, co-facilitator of the Columbus Living Future Collaborative and event organizer told me, “I was pleasantly surprised that the event drew people from all walks of life—not just from the building profession but also from the community at large. I thought a beautiful outcome of the event was that people were connecting with this idea of biophilia and biophilic design on a new level, not necessarily on a design level but more on a human, instinctual level.”

Johnna, like myself, is a design professional with a focus on sustainability, and we were both delighted to find a meaningful way to engage non-designers with a topic that may be new and unfamiliar, but that has a profound impact on the ways we feel in our built environments. Oftentimes, design can seem inscrutable because it is cloaked in technical language. Experiences like this, that help people connect through their senses with design principles, help overcome the barriers of technical jargon and generate an understanding that anyone can carry forward to positively impact their environments.

Peril. A controlled amount of risk in our environment creates delight. The presence of water is a strong biophlic design element, enhancing our experience of space through the senses of sight, sound, and touch, and also introducing a small amount of peril that children (and adults) can’t resist engaging with.

Because of the success of the events, and the positive feedback we received from all those that attended, Andy, Johnna, and I have already begun brainstorming for a similar event for next year, with a fun new twist—a photographic scavenger hunt for biophilic design principles! If you are interested in this event or similar events, feel free to email me and join the Bloomington Living Future Collaborative mailing list. In the meantime, you can learn more about biophilic design through the ILFI’s Biophilic Design Initiative. Look around you in your home and workspace and discover ways that biophilic design is already a part of your life. What new ways can you find to strengthen the human-nature connection in the spaces you inhabit?

Giving back to the communities we live, work and play in is very important at Cripe.

This month, we’ve kicked off our season of giving by hosting a representative from United Way of Central Indiana at this month’s Cripe Huddle. This organization embodies so much of what we stand for at Cripe and also donates funds to many of the organizations we are involved with.

“United Way of Central Indiana fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in our Central Indiana Community.” That quote comes from information on the United Way’s Basic Needs Fund, which provides the essentials of food, shelter, health and transportation to the most vulnerable living our community.

Our employees have served as volunteers and board members and others have received valuable training through United Way programs. In short, we are so thankful for the relationship we have with this incredible organization.

Our season of giving begins with participating in the United Way workplace campaign, where Cripe team members are able to give financially. That money will go the United Way’s three new Impact Funds:

  • Basic needs – Helping the most vulnerable in our community
  • Family Opportunity – Supporting the whole family on a path to self-sufficiency
  • Social Innovation – Sparking new ideas to break the cycle of poverty

These Impact Funds have been created in order to help ALICE, which stands for:

Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed

These are people who hold jobs that are critical to the success of the community, but they are barely surviving paycheck-to-paycheck.

While our giving is part of a workplace campaign, anyone can donate to United Way at any point  and your money truly goes a long way to impact our community.

If a monetary donation isn’t right for you, your time is just as valuable as money. The United Way has so many volunteer opportunities that speak to the interests of almost everyone. Some programs include ReadUP Tutoring, Moment to Movement, Tax Prep Volunteering, and Disaster Response Reception Center Volunteering. There is truly something for everyone, so please consider donating in whatever capacity you can. Every little bit makes a difference for our vulnerable neighbors.

United Way of Central Indiana kicks off our season of giving, but stayed tuned to our social media channels and website in the coming months as we participate in Cripe’s Annual Day of Giving, this year at Million Meal Movement and Giving Tree, a 36 year tradition or sharing the holiday spirit with others.

2018 Cripe Day of Giving at Flanner House

2018 Giving Tree

For more information on all the ways we give back throughout the year, visit our “About” page and scroll down to the Com

munity Service section.

In 2015, Cripe began working with Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) in partnership with TWG studying the redevelopment of Minnie Hartmann/School 78.

The existing buildings were completely rehabbed including masonry repair, extensive site redevelopment with storm water capture, new interior finishes, new windows, plumbing systems, electrical infrastructure and lighting.  A charming rain forest mural at the western end of the 1929 building’s main corridor was preserved in homage to the school.  There were opportunities to salvage and reuse existing finishes, particularly the classroom maple floors in the 1929 building.  The completed project provides 64 units of affordable senior adult housing and is completely accessible to the disabled on all levels.  This is no mean feat given that the only floor in the structure that is continuous is the main level proper.

An 11,000 square foot day care will be built in 2020 creating an early learning center for approximately 120 children.  The result will be an intergenerational facility with programs engaging children and seniors under one roof, the first of its kind in Indiana.  The Institute for Family Studies notes: “Should seniors and toddlers go to day care together? It’s a strange sounding question, but a growing number of day care  facilities around the country say yes. And an emerging body of research suggests that doing so is good for both the young and old.” 

Historic Sensitivity

The existing building consists of the 1929 school and two additions, an addition on the east in the 1950s and on the west in the 1960s.  New construction was added on the north creating a “U” shaped plan.  The new building includes brick veneer and cast stone accents at the first story in response to the original building’s brick and stone.  The second and third floors of the new building use durable fiber cement siding in warm tones to complement the existing masonry.

Environmental Responsibility

It has been said that the greenest building is the one that already exists—a comment that is especially true when the design of the renovations prioritizes energy efficiency and green features.

Minnie Hartmann Center has received a National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Emerald rating with several features deserving mention.  First, a sunken courtyard contains seating, a walking path and a central planted area using native plants, shrubs and flowers.  This courtyard collects all site storm water, which is routed into a dry well beneath the plantings.  The building is energy efficient with high performance windows and continuous spray foam at interior walls.  The roof was replaced with supplemental insulation on the 1929 and 1950s building and repaired on the 1960s building.  In addition, in the 1929 building, all existing hardwood floors were left in place, repaired and reused.  Water efficient fixtures are used throughout along with LED lighting.

The transformation of Minnie Hartmann School into the Minnie Hartmann Center is the first significant new construction in this part of the city in decades.  The Owner hopes the result will be a catalyst for revitalization of a blighted neighborhood.