Indiana State University Newsroom

Meis Plaza inspires art, design, collaboration

October 5, 2012

The Indiana State University Foundation on Thursday dedicated Meis Plaza as the latest contribution to the redevelopment of downtown Terre Haute.

The combined elements of innovative art and sustainable design inspired Laney and Lu Meis to support the plaza, located in front of the ISU Foundation Office at 30 N. Fifth Street.

Students, donors and private business collaborated to develop the plaza and enhance the university and community outdoor art collection.

"It's been exciting to be a part of a project that is a total collaboration between the public and private sectors, along with Indiana State University students," said Laney Meis of Terre Haute. "This shows what terrific things can be accomplished with this kind of cooperation. Lu and I want to thank all of you who have made this plaza a reality."A gift from the couple, who are strong advocates and supporters of the arts in the Wabash Valley, funded Meis plaza, which will be a prominent downtown art feature. Laney Meis, who has served as past chair of the Indiana Arts Commission, is a founding member on the Wabash Valley Art Spaces board.

The plaza features "Renewal" by Tim Upham of Fort Collins, Colo. The sculpture is part of the Wabash Valley Public Art Collection that was made possible through the Meises' philanthropy and a partnership with Art Spaces, Inc.

"Renewal" is a 12-foot tall by 20-foot long sculpture that incorporates the university's iconic sycamore leaf into the design of the sculpture and is constructed of stainless steel, white painted metal and thousands of cobalt blue glass marbles.

"Approaching the plaza from any direction will reveal a visual representation of a wave as it releases a dynamic flow of energy toward the building's main entrance," Upham said. "It is only when the visitor is under the blue and white canopy that a sense of discovery will occur as you realize that the wave is also a cobalt blue sycamore leaf."Upham has more than 15 years of experience as an artist and has specific sculptures in several Colorado communities as well as Memphis, Tenn. and at the Booker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center near Tarpon Springs, Fla. He works in collaboration with his brother, Rick, owner and operator of Flash Welding in Fort Collins, to fabricate the pieces needed for each project.

The name of the sculpture was chosen from a contest open to the university and community. ISU sophomore Tyler Miller of Elkhart submitted the winning name, which was chosen from more than 100 entries submitted by Indiana State students and alumni, as well as Wabash Valley residents.

"It looks like a wave folding over. This symbolizes a generation of Sycamores graduating, and a new wave taking their place, 'renewing' Sycamore pride," Miller said in his submission statement.

Additional student involvement with the project came through the landscape design. A student team, CSW Design, created the design for the plaza through a campus wide competition. Team members are Andrea Cole of Greenfield and Sarah Stetter of St. Anthony, both 2012 graduates with degrees in interior design, and Julie Whitaker, senior human and environmental systems major from New Palestine. "It was great to work in a group and I really got to understand better how to work with a client, other trades, and a landscape architect," Cole said. "Winning this project was humbling and extremely exciting. I am so honored that our group's design will live on at ISU and I can take this experience with me into the professional world."

The competition served as an experiential learning opportunity for Indiana State students. It requires students to incorporate features of "Renewal" and donor-named "Smantha's Gardens" into the design and create functional public and event space.

A panel of judges who selected the winning design cited its use of creativity and flexibility within the space. The design concept, "Encompassing Points of Interest," uses curvilinear shapes, a variety of sustainable materials, and enhanced garden areas to compliment the foundation building and existing plaza features. It also draws on warm tones with splashes of Sycamore blue to "invigorate the mind and emphasize the focal points," the judge said.

"We based our design off of ‘Renewal,' Stetter said. "We tried to encompass points of interest while also tying the architectural elements of the building and the shape of the sculpture together."

The student team's community mentor for the competition, Andy Verdeyen, serves as the project coordinator. Verdeyen, a Terre Haute native, is the owner of Verdeyen Group LLC, a landscaping and architectural company based in Indianapolis.

Contact: Kim Bloch, communications director, Indiana State University Foundation,


Story Highlights

The Indiana State University Foundation on Thursday dedicated Meis Plaza as the latest contribution to the redevelopment of downtown Terre Haute. Laney and Lu Meis supported the plaza, located in front of the Indiana State University Foundation office.

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