Art for the Future

Art for the Future

Meyer Najem’s Investment in Public Art

If you’ve driven through downtown Fishers lately, you have probably noticed lots of changes in the scenery, including the new Meyer Najem building just off of Lantern Road and Commercial Drive. This new office space will be the home of several businesses that have graduated from Launch Fishers in addition to Meyer Najem, a construction management company that had previously been located off of 131st Street.

The structure adds a new architectural highlight to the Nickel Plate District. Meyer Najem describes the building as:

“A study in pattern, planes and daylight. The major driver of the design was the desire to permit a large amount of daylight into the building, especially the open office space. The angled orientation is to create a terminus at the end of Commercial Drive, to create a more urban street front, and to maximize the usable site area.

“Where possible, we’ve left the structure and functional elements of the building exposed to highlight the individual parts of the building and celebrate Meyer Najem’s role as a construction company.”

But the sleek design of the building will not be its only notable artistic feature. CEO Anthony Najem, who joined the Nickel Plate Arts board in February of this year, has a clear vision for how the arts can help his company connect to the larger community. In an October 28 Current in Fishers article about this project, Najem said, “Art supplies a positive statement for a community. It adds a vital creative depth and dimension to what otherwise might be a generic, task-oriented, dayto- day business existence.”

Najem has spearheaded efforts to integrate great design, beautiful materials and local art into his new headquarters. As the interior of the building is finished over the next few months, look for local art to be on display in the lobby and around the first floor.

Local metal artist commissioned

Meyer najem Kevin Huff headshotPerhaps more important, keep your eyes open for Meyer Najem’s biggest investment in local arts development so far: The company has commissioned a large outdoor sculpture to sit in front of its eastern picture window and hopes to have the piece installed by late September. As the company described it in its RFP to sculptors, “The sculpture is intended to be an eyecatching statement piece that fits the theme of ‘Past meets Present,’ and reflects Meyer Najem’s dedication to the local community.”

The construction firm requested proposals from artists for a $25,000 sculpture last fall and, after careful consideration and review, has begun working with local sculptor Kevin Huff to develop a final design. Huff is a current resident of Westfield, a former resident of Noblesville, and a graduate of Herron School of Art.

Travelers on State Road 32 might recognize Kevin’s work. His large, red metal sculpture of a man carrying a load of cylinders sits on the south side of the road in Westfield. Huff is also the owner of the Log Home Center in Noblesville. All of us involved with this project have been excited to engage a local artist with such deep ties to Hamilton County.

Huff has a clear vision for the important role that public art such as this sculpture can play in community development. Huff noted that during his lifetime, he has watched phenomenal growth take place in the Fishers area. And, while this growth brings with it many wonderful things, “sometimes, with progress, there can be a disconnection from one’s past. I believe looking backward can improve your vision forward. Being a metal artist, it has been exciting to see large public sculptures start to dot the landscape of Hamilton County,” Huff says.

“This investment in the arts has created great opportunity to a wide range of local artists in the Hamilton County area. Regardless of how public art is sometimes received, it provokes a conversation amongst residents.”

Huff’s standpoint on the role of public art meshes remarkably well with both Meyer Najem’s and the City of Fishers’ visions for the future.

Nickel Plate District design

The construction of Meyer Najem’s new headquarters and the company’s investment in public art are both prominent and important early steps in achieving the city’s goals for the Nickel Plate District. The District has its own building codes designed, as it says on the City of Fishers website, “to create a vibrant, walkable city center that the entire community can enjoy.”

The code regulates the appearance of new construction in the District in order to develop a consistent feel to downtown life, while encouraging a diversity of businesses and land uses in the area. The new Meyer Najem building was the result of a public-private partnership, in which the city contributed $1.4 million to build a parking lot and infrastructure on the site.

City staff members have also been closely involved with the selection process for the Meyer Najem sculpture. The city’s investment of time and money reflects their intent to ensure that the new downtown Fishers will have a cohesive yet lively and organic feel for current residents, visitors, and future generations.

Why we care so much

This emphasis on envisioning the future is what makes this project so exciting for us at Nickel Plate Arts. This year, Fishers will roll out a comprehensive plan that covers the next 20 years and places a high emphasis on creating vibrancy through revitalization and building a greater sense of community. We at Nickel Plate Arts and our friends on the Fishers Arts Council know that the arts can be the perfect tool to activate and revitalize public spaces, as well the catalyst for bringing the community closer together.

As Anthony Najem said in the Current in Fishers article on October 28, “Fishers has the opportunity to become one of the top arts communities in central Indiana.” And by engaging local artist Kevin Huff to create the piece, Meyer Najem is bringing Fishers one step closer to that vision.

“The goal of my [sculpture] is to keep Fishers advancing into the future,” Huff said in his proposal, and we at Nickel Plate Arts look forward to watching that vibrant future become a reality.

We plan to check in on this project as it develops and will share designs, updates, as well as a report on the final installation in future issues of Arts Guide. Be sure to stay tuned! 18

Casey Kenley
casey@caseykenley.com