Spring 2022 Decathlon Design Challenge

Education Building – Thomas Carr Howe High School
Project Summary 

Team ReConnect, from Ball State University, is proposing the renovation of the “permanently closed” Thomas Carr Howe High School. This, paired with an abundance of elementary schools and the lack of middle and high schools in the area, has led us to revive Howe High School to housing grades 7 – 12. Our school resides in the neighborhood of Christian Park, set directly between the Near East Side and Irvington neighborhoods.

We aim for this renovation to become a community asset and bridge these three communities by providing traditional opportunities to students during the typical school day, a health clinic that serves all three communities, a resiliency hub that provides shelter (the existing north gym and locker rooms with showers) in the case of a natural disaster, and finally, evening classes for those in these communities that don’t have the opportunity to partake in classes during the typical school day.

With a college education becoming a requirement instead of simply being an option in our society, we wanted to provide alternative opportunities to all three of these communities. We are redesigning Howe High School to be a vocational school offering both an alternative educational and professional path for students of any age. This vocational path will help develop more tradespeople for a dwindling workforce and provide a training facility for nontraditional students and community members. While utilizing the existing infrastructure, our goal is to reimagine the interior of the school to promote creativity, collaboration, and a healthy learning environment through formal and informal collaboration spaces, classrooms overlooking trade labs, and a large staired space leading to the media center.

Renovating, opposed to building new, will reduce the carbon footprint, the cost, and the material waste while also promoting sustainable practices in the community. Our research has shown that it is more than nine times more efficient for us to renovate the existing school than it is to design and build completely new. Our implemented strategies will continue the longevity of Howe High School not only
as a school, but a staple resource for the surrounding communities.


Design Strategies 

  • Energy Efficient HVAC Systems
    • Ground Source Heat Pump
    • Zone Shutdown
  • Airtight Building Envelope
    • High Quality Insulation
    • Insulated Door & Window Frames
  • Integration of Technology
  • Daylight & Occupancy Sensors
  • Healthy Learning Environment
  • Daylight in Classrooms
  • Acoustics • Collaborative Spaces • Accessible Green Roofs & Spaces
  • Community Engagement
  • Disaster Relief Hub
  • Health Clinic

Project Data 

  • Location: 4900 Julian Ave, Indianapolis, IN
  • Climate Zone: 4A
  • Building Size: 379,000 ft², 4 stories
  • Lot size: 27 acres • Site EUI Target: 31.02 kBtu/ft²/yr
  • Population: 1ooo students, 200 faculty + staff
  • Grades: 7-12


  • Jessica Murasaki
  • Nick Brauer
  • Zoe Rader
  • Zane Wicker
  • Nourhan Elboraei
  • Nathan Blei
  • Mary Martin