Ideas and inspiration for professionals
There is a story in our office that every employee knows.
It’s the story of the pocket watch. Our founder, Paul I. Cripe, was a man of integrity and placed that value as the backbone of his company. He knew that he couldn’t expect his employees to do things he wasn’t willing to do and he couldn’t expect them to produce their best work if he wasn’t willing to do the same.
Cripe was founded in 1937 and even if you’re not a history buff, you know those were hard times for our nation economically. Our founder wasn’t exempt from these hard times.
There were several instances where the money just wasn’t there to handle payroll and so Mr. Cripe would take his beloved pocket watch and pawn it so that he could pay his employees. He would later go buy it back when money came into the company, but it wasn’t a onetime occurrence. He repeated that cycle several times to ensure that not only his company, but his employees were able to survive through economic hardship.
83 years ago, Paul I. Cripe taught us what it meant to be a true servant leader and to be accountable to an enterprise he started and the people he had hired. we carry that with us today.
In our office, we talk often about the pocket watch. It now sits in our CEO’s office as a reminder to all who see it that they work for a company that, from the executives all the way down to our newest entry level hires, walks the walk.
For our clients and our partners, it means that we carry the quote “If it’s to be; it’s up to me” into every project and meeting. Cripe employees aren’t going to wait for someone else to take charge or to do the work. They are going to take responsibility on a personal level to do the very best job they can do for every project on which they work. They know that they must be accountable to their clients, partners and colleagues and that it starts with them.
Nearly every one of our values has stemmed from this mentality of accountability. We pride ourselves on a project management system, the Cripe Way, that prioritizes taking charge and being in communication with clients and partners. Communication is a great way to remain accountable. Our employees know that it is crucial to remain on top of ever changing client wants and needs as well as external requirements. They’re not going to sit back and let information come to them. If they did that, they might miss something crucial. No. They’re going to be proactive and get the information and answers they need to ensure that our clients and partners have as seamless an experience as possible with Cripe.
Many things have changed over the 83 years since Cripe was founded, but many have not. Our company’s dedication to integrity and accountability have remained steadfast throughout the decades. Those values paired with our dedication to being on the cutting edge is what has allowed us to continue on in much the same way over the past few months, despite our uncertain times. Our workspaces and officemates have changed since we’re been remote, but our way of doing things, the very values that were set forth so many years ago, have not.
Accountability is a mindset, not a skillset and we thank Mr. Cripe for instilling that mentality into his company so many years ago.
- Advocate – noun – a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
synonyms: champion · upholder · supporter · backer · promoter · proponent
At Cripe, we take the above definition very seriously. First and foremost, we are client advocates. With new and returning clients, we learn their unique stories, histories and needs for each and every project. We do this whether we’ve worked with that client on multiple projects or if it’s the very first one. We don’t have cookie cutter responses that fit every client.
Through our project management model, the Cripe Way, we schedule meetings throughout the entire process because we know that needs can change. Communication channels are always open between Cripe and the client.
We are advocates for our clients by maintaining positive working relationships with our elected officials and community agencies. Cripe not only believes in relationships with our clients, but also with other entities that can make the processes smoother for our clients and ourselves.
Recently, we were contacted by a past client to assist with solving a civil engineering project problem. For context, this past client already had an architect, civil engineer, and surveyor. In other words, there was no immediate motivation to help solve their problem. However, because of our belief in advocating for our clients past, present, and future, we used our network and positive relationship with the local utility department to assist this past client and were able to reach a solution that assisted them and ultimately advanced their project.
We are advocates for our clients in that we maintain positive relationships with our subcontractors, allied professionals and even our competitors.
Another recent example would be being contacted by a client to submit a proposal for a project that we could not assist them with at the time. We referred the client to a competing firm who was able to submit a proposal and complete the work. In the broader view of things, this was a win. Similarly, we have been contacted on more than one occasion to quietly support strategic partners with survey, civil and architectural services while being sensitive to their client relationship.
We are advocates for our community and clients in the causes we support. We like to support those groups that support our community. A few examples include the Cripe Hob Nob Policy Intern Scholarship we give in partnership with the Indy Chamber and our CEO’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Not only have we done work for the latter organization, but our CEO and other members of our staff have participated in the program as mentors.
At Cripe, as Employee Owners, our advocacy extends to our teammates, which is illustrated from our culture and a firm belief that in taking care of our people we provide the best service to our clients.
Our vision statement says it all, Cripe is an award-winning Indiana MBE multidisciplinary design firm. We are problem solvers, servant leaders and client advocates. We listen to understand in order to consistently deliver high quality design solutions.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.