As published on April 13th by Inside Indiana Business' Perspectives column

By Steven Bestard, Vice President and Indianapolis Region Leader, Messer Construction Co.

Downtown Indianapolis has never been a better place to work, visit or live. In the past decade, we've seen downtown blossom as a vital, energizing place, precisely because of the capital investments made in both the public and private sectors. A new stadium and arena, new education facilities, new lab and research facilities and new office space... the current residential building boom is a direct result of those investments.

Where do we go now? Many of the healthcare facilities across Indianapolis have expanded. We a have modern, efficient airport that has been named the Best in North America for four straight years. Science-based industry and labs are drawing STEM careers – and the good paychecks that go with them – to Indianapolis. All of the pieces are in place. We should feel good about that. But we cannot be complacent. 

The pace of change is only going to quicken. And that requires us to be forward thinking not only about WHAT we invest in, but HOW we transform ideas into realities.

The economy of the nation and Indianapolis is data-driven and science-based. The buildings we are constructing today will be the schools, laboratories, offices and health-care facilities of generations not yet born. Our buildings must be ready for the next economy. 

At Messer, we see more and more projects that require innovative ways of thinking. We see a greater number of clients seeking partners for an “integrated project delivery” (known as IPD). Based on lean thinking, IPD encourages early involvement, collaboration and problem solving by every team member on the project. A greater emphasis on efficiency is also changing the way we build. We’re not talking just about energy efficiency, which remains important, but also design and construction efficiency.

When a team of people come together early in the process, using the best data and input from all users, we can build facilities that meet critical needs in the best way. For example, a hospital or medical office designed to get people care in a faster, more efficient way can be built with less space for waiting rooms and more for patient care. In cases like this, we see both improved care and a better stewardship of resources.

The innovations going on right now will affect the way we live for years to come. Consider “Building Information Modeling” (known as BIM). What started out ten years ago as a way to view buildings in three dimensions for construction coordination purposes is now being used for asset management by facilities engineers throughout the life of the building. That is how quickly innovation can improve the way buildings work for people.

Buildings being constructed now should incorporate these kinds of innovative, data-driven approaches to building management. Owners will need to figure out ways to adapt some of these principles to already existing structures. In the next ten years, much of the key construction work will not involve a changing skyline, but rather an emerging approach to how space, money, and energy are used within buildings we already know and love. This type of renovation work may be less interesting to watch from the street, but it is a key part of building an Indianapolis that works in the future.

I’ve lived and worked in Indianapolis for over a decade and I’ve never felt more confident about where we stand and where we are going. The decisions we make in the next 10 years are even more critical to our long-term future. We’ve poured a great foundation, now it’s time to build on it.

Steven Bestard is the vice president and Indianapolis region leader of Messer Construction Co.