Friday, October 28, 2011

Blueprints Assist in Creating Virtual World

Our patrons and partners are constantly coming up with innovative ways to utilize architectural drawings in our collections. We recently provided Ball Brothers' factory and office blueprints from the Kibele and Garrard Architectural Records Collection to Ball State University's Center for Middletown Studies and Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA), who used them to map a virtual world in Blue Mars.

According to James Connolly, director of the Center for Middletown Studies and professor of history, "the key that unlocked the whole reconstruction came from Cuno Kibele's original drawings for the main offices of the Ball Brothers plant, which are held in BSU's Drawings and Documents Archive. While we had an array of source materials, including plant maps and photographs, only the Kibele blueprints had precise scale measurements. The designers used them, along with photos, to reconstruct that building. From there, they used the digital model of the office building as the point of comparison to determine the height, length, and width of Factory No. 1 and its constituent parts, along with the scale of the other structures that are part of the virtual plant."

More information about the project from IDIA:

The Virtual Middletown Living Museum Project, which brings to life aspects of the 1929 and 1937 Lynd Study of Middletown America, is now live in the virtual world of Blue Mars. The project, which simulates the Ball Glass factory, incorporates various modes of learning and interaction while maintaining an immersive experience. Life and conditions in the factory were one of the key elements of the Middletown Studies by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd in their landmark studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937). These in-depth accounts of life in Muncie, Indiana, became classic sociological studies and established the community as a barometer of social trends in the United States. In the years since, scholars in a variety of fields have returned to Muncie to follow up on the Lynds’ work, making this small
city among the most studied communities in the nation.

This simulation of industrial life, built as a prototype for a much larger project dealing with all aspects of the Lynd Study, has aimed to create a virtual living museum experience expanding the opportunities for both learning and interpretation. The approach to interactive design embeds learning and navigation experiences subtly into the project to maintain the sense of immersion. IDIA has prototyped several techniques to accomplish this - including interactive objects that allow for close up inspection, objects that when clicked bring up web-based content, and annotated plans or photographs used in the interpretation.

Also, non-player character factory workers, a live interactive avatar of Frank C. Ball who greets visitors and introduces them to the factory, video and audio files of factory experts, and archival films - all assist in bringing the project to life. IDIA designed an in-world interactive Heads-Up-Display (HUD) that provides deeper investigation and navigation throughout the factory as well as a supporting webpage with complete documentation on all resources used in this interpretation. Project partners include the Center for Middletown Studies and University Libraries. This project was funded by the Emerging Media Initiative at Ball State University.

Video walkthrough here: download the Blue Mars client, create an account and tour Virtual Middletown, please visit:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Losing Edward Pierre

As many of you know, our collection of Pierre and Wright Architectural Records is one of our most important collections at the Drawings + Documents Archive. It gets that distinction not just from the quality of materials in the collection itself, but what it represents of the architecture in Indianapolis from the early 1920s to the 1960s. From art deco to the birth of the cool; that's when the architectural fabric of Indianapolis was largely built. And Edward Pierre and George Wright were committed to doing it well.

They were also committed to civic engagement. We can thank them for having the idea of decorating the circle at Christmas, for designing gracious estates as well as small houses that were affordable to all, and for trying to make Indianapolis a greater city. Another one of their gifts to generations of Indiana residents is the elegant Indiana State Library.

AIA Indiana's website describes Edward Pierre as "a crusader for the welfare of children, decent housing for all, peace and progressive urban planning. He was honored repeatedly for his outstanding service to the architectural profession and the public." The yearly AIA Edward D. Pierre Award is meant to honor contemporary architects who display the same commitment to public service.

The recent photograph and historic architectural rendering above show an example of the architecture from Edward Pierre's later years: a graceful solution to the modest problem of needing to change into tennis attire in Tarkington Park, at 40th and Meridian. Pierre didn't cling to outdated styles during his career, but embraced the best of every era. Built in 1957, the tennis shelter's lowslung modernist design offers both privacy and openness while mirroring the architectural character of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we just heard the news that this building was torn down yesterday. 1957-2011.

Images: Tarkington Tennis Shelter, 2011, photograph courtesy of Vess von Ruhtenberg
Tarkington Tennis Shelter architectural rendering, 1957, photostat, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photos from the CAP Images Collection

Images: College of Architecture & Planning students, 1960s-1980s, CAP Images Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.