Case Studies

The Scott College of Business – Shiel Sexton Company Inc.

A Great Community Investment in Downtown Terre Haute

When Indiana State University (Indiana State) dedicated the new home of Scott College of Business in September 2012, it was a project of firsts: The first time an Indiana State college building ventured so close to the commercial heart of Terre Haute, Ind.; the first time Indiana State commissioned such an extensive remodel of a historic building; and the first time project management firm Shiel Sexton Company Inc. (Shiel Sexton) self-performed the installation of six miles of wood trim on an education project.

The remodel created quite the buzz about town. The school selected a neglected Terre Haute landmark known as the Federal Building, a 1930s federal courthouse and post office, as the new home for its business school. The goal was to preserve as much of the original building as possible – the beautiful Art Deco finishes and features, judges chambers and mailboxes – while subtlety updating the building for modern university use.

The building, now known as Federal Hall, sits right at the edge of the city’s business district, at the corner of Seventh and Cherry streets, to allow Scott College students to easily access real-world business experience. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Indiana State’s prestigious MBA program as one of the best in the nation, and approximately 1,200 undergraduates and 100 graduate students pursue higher education through the college.

Classroom Ambitions

The university selected Shiel Sexton as a result of a competitive bid process to manage a large majority of the ambitious $14.6 million project and work with Schmidt Associates Architects to complete the remodel effectively to meet the needs of the university and its business students.

Founded in 1962 in Indianapolis by Dick Shiel and Tim Sexton, Shiel Sexton is one of the country’s premier education construction firms. Operating from Indianapolis and an additional Charlotte, N.C., office, the company’s more than 300 employees expertly cover project management, general contracting, design-build projects and real estate services throughout the country.

Dedicated teams devoted to specific building niches ensure Shiel Sexton delivers projects that work for its clients. The company’s track record in education builds – and, perhaps, being a fellow Hoosier – made the company top choice for Indiana State.

Brian McCormick served as project manager for Shiel Sexton’s Indiana State project and kept the $12 million dollar, three-story, 13 month-long historic remodel on track and at budget. He’s been with the company for 11 years, and he celebrates the way the company operates, the people he works with and the upper management style. Although Shiel Sexton is a larger company, McCormick explains, “We strive to keep a family-like atmosphere.”

McCormick, along with Jim Wenzler and Joel Scheele, successfully supervised demolition, salvage and construction of all four floors of this large historically significant building, which was originally constructed as a federal public works project. By all accounts, the project is a success and provides a seamless mix of old and new. Original wood paneling, copper trims, white bronze doors, plus marble floors and walls were salvaged where possible. But a lot came down, as well, to make way for classrooms and common areas.

History Lessons

A number of building challenges are inherent in bringing an old building up to speed with modern classroom needs. Working on a historic building requires dealing not only with unknowns inside old walls, but also known parameters placed by outside interests. Federal Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places; therefore, any changes to the building – from wood finish to trim choice – had to be approved by the Indiana Historical Society. In addition, Indiana State wanted an environmentally friendly building, so the building was constructed to LEED Silver standards (still under review for official certification). It was a lot to keep up with, but no problem for the Shiel Sexton team.

“The building was built in the early 1930s and without any as-built drawings, so there were a lot of challenges that the team worked through well,” reminisces McCormick. The remodel also required heavy demolition, with the only entrances and exits through corridors and historic areas that had to stay intact and be turned over as-is at project completion. “At the end of the day we hauled over 1,800 tons of demolition debris through marble and terrazzo hallways without damage, which wasn’t an easy task,” explains McCormick.

There were also challenges unique to the building’s use as a federal courthouse. “Once we began core drilling and cutting slabs we quickly found how the building was originally constructed; the brick tile slab system was approximately 22 inches in depth, there was Kevlar in the walls for judges chambers, and there were a lot of other unique construction that you might not run into on a typical project,” expounds McCormick. To put this into perspective, typical slab on metal deck is four to six to inches.

Shiel Sexton handled the concrete and architectural woodwork in-house. All woodwork was self-performed by the firm. “And there was a heavy amount of wood on this one,” assures McCormick. “There was approximately six miles worth of trim and door casing alone.” In addition, the Shiel Sexton team kept a flurry of subcontractors on task to allow for maximum flexibility and to cover all specialty trades.

The bottom line is that Federal Hall smoothly merges old building charm with new school technology. The renovation, wrapped up in June 2012, proudly brings the Scott College of Business to downtown Terre Haute and another showcase project to the always-impressive portfolio of Shiel Sexton Company Inc.

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Spring 2018



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