Eskenazi Health Celebrates Opening of World-Class Outdoor Plaza - Eskenazi Health

Eskenazi Health officials and civic leaders from across Central Indiana came together Tuesday to celebrate the opening of The Commonground at Eskenazi Health, a unique outdoor green space focused on community, serenity and wellness for patients, visitors and employees on the Eskenazi Health campus.

Some of the world’s most acclaimed design and architecture firms collaborated to create The Commonground. It offers a productive outdoor landscape featuring a dining center, a lively garden community space and an expansive overhead trellis covered year-round with native vine species and plant life. The participating design firms LAND COLLECTIVE, The OLIN Studio, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), are known for internationally recognized spaces throughout the U.S. and around the world. 

LAND COLLECTIVE’S founder, David Rubin, is the 2011 Rome Prize winner in landscape architecture and the designer of Canal Park in Washington, D.C. Among their renowned work, LAND COLLECTIVE’s portfolio includes the renovation of the Villa Ludovisi in Rome, Italy, and the design of the recently announced Grand Junction in Westfield, Indiana, the first phase of which is set for completion in 2017. The OLIN Studio’s work includes Bryant Park in New York City and the Olympic Village in Barcelona, Spain. DS+R’s critically-acclaimed work includes New York City’s groundbreaking High Line project and the redesign of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The firm’s founders, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, are the first architects to be awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

“Thinking of what this space will mean for all those from across our community and beyond who visit and enjoy this extraordinary place, we are both grateful and thrilled to be celebrating this moment,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “From the natural beauty, to the productive plant life, to the overall atmosphere of social connectedness, The Commonground represents our vision for a healthier, more vibrant future for our community.”

The grand opening festivities included the Taste of Eskenazi Health, an event featuring healthful food offerings from the various food retail outlets at Eskenazi Health; as well as yoga, hula hoop and jump rope demonstrations; live entertainment and the Eskenazi Health Farmers’ Market. Several community partners and local organizations were present to help celebrate the space, including the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick; Indiana Pacers Bikeshare; Fifth Third Bank; CITYOGA; Growing Places Indy; Back on My Feet; Know No Stranger; Ballet Mosaicos Indianapolis; Tuxedo Brothers; University of Indianapolis; #TheHealingProject; the Indianapolis Opera; Rene’s Bakery; HUSK, LLC; D&S Kettle Corn; Maya’s Barkery Holistic Dog Treats; Van Antwerp Farms; and more.

The Commonground creates an ideal environment for community connectedness and cultural activities such as the aforementioned programs, serving as a gathering place for patients, their families and the public. The Commonground aligns with the health system’s wellness-focused model of care and represents a new paradigm for outdoor green spaces as integral components of health care facilities.

Among the most notable features of The Commonground is a surface-level fountain, appropriately called Healing Waters, free of barriers and open to bare feet and wheelchairs. Inscribed within the fountain coping is an excerpt from a poem written by award-winning poet and professor of English Mitchell Douglas, the text of which is not fully revealed until the waters recede, which it does intermittently. Douglas gave a live recitation of the complete poem at the grand opening celebration. The landscape also features Indiana limestone throughout the grounds.

“We are proud of the extraordinary space this design team, construction partners and philanthropic supporters have made possible for our patients and our community,” said Matthew R. Gutwein, president and chief executive officer of Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County. “The Commonground is a special place. It incorporates design and sustainability into a vibrant landscape intended to bring our patients, staff, visitors and all of Central Indiana together.”

Construction of The Commonground was fully supported by philanthropy, including gifts from Frank and Katrina Basile, the Griffith Family Foundation, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, Myrta Pulliam, and the Kelcy M. Whitman Family Fund, a fund of Legacy Fund.

“In this moment of celebration, we are grateful to the individuals, foundations and all philanthropic supporters who made The Commonground and all of Eskenazi Health’s new campus possible,” said Ernest Vargo II, CFRE, president and chief executive officer of the Eskenazi Health Foundation. “This support inspires us every day to dream bigger, to do more, and to strive unyieldingly for the health of our patients and our community.”

“Enhancing connectivity and providing our community with inspiring and beautiful places are at the heart of our mission,” said Brian Payne, president and CEO of Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Indianapolis Foundation. “And The Commonground does just that. It brings people together and it adds a sense of community to a healing environment. It is an honor to be part of such an extraordinary project.”

“We gave to support the vision behind what this space is truly meant to be – a space surrounded by nature, a space meant to provide comfort and serenity,” said Michelle Griffith of the Griffith Family Foundation. “And when you step into this space, surrounded by water features and more than 5,000 perennial plants, you understand why it exists and why so many are passionate about its impact.” 

At the nexus of Eskenazi Health and the IUPUI campus, The Commonground’s pathways weave visitors together through alternately intimate and social spaces, performance and lounging areas, work and dining spaces. Honored guest speakers and civic leaders from across Central Indiana voiced support for The Commonground and Eskenazi Health’s innovative approach to health care.

“The Commonground is the latest in a long and meaningful progression of innovative developments from Eskenazi Health in its mission to improve the health of our community,” said U.S. Congressman André Carson. “Eskenazi Health is a tremendous resource for the health of Central Indiana and an example of all that we can achieve when we work together toward a common goal.”

“Congratulations on The Commonground’s Grand Opening,” said U.S. Senator Dan Coats. “What this community has achieved for the health of its population, for the wellness of everyone, is a testament to the compassion and care of our community’s leaders, who have come together to make this possible.”

“Eskenazi Health has a long history of providing Central Indiana residents with high-quality health care, and The Commonground is just another example of their dedication to offering a comforting and serene experience for patients and their families. This is a welcome addition to the Indianapolis community,” said U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly.

“Eskenazi Health helps Hoosiers of all backgrounds receive the quality health care they need, and I’m proud to celebrate this new addition to what is already an extraordinary hospital and health campus,” said U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks. “I am excited to be a part of today’s celebration and encouraged by this contribution to a healthier Indiana for decades to come.”

“I am proud to celebrate the opening of this new space at Eskenazi Health,” said Mayor Gregory A. Ballard. “The Commonground will not only have a positive impact on the health of our community, it brings together nature, art, architecture and wellness to create a truly unique place in Indianapolis.”

“Eskenazi Health brings together the most diverse cross-section of our city for the common purpose of living healthier lives. The Commonground is a perfect addition — in its symbolism and its usefulness — to support that cause,” said Maggie Lewis, City-County Council president. “I’m proud and pleased to celebrate this moment as Eskenazi Health continues to improve, expand and grow.”

The Commonground forms the primary entryway to the east and southeast sides of the Eskenazi Health campus and welcomes visitors and patients to the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, Fifth Third Bank Building at Eskenazi Health and Eskenazi Health Outpatient Care Center.

“I’m immensely pleased to celebrate the opening of The Commonground,” said Rubin, whose work on The Commonground extends across both LAND COLLECTIVE and The OLIN Studio. “It represents a truly unique development in health care and community design fostering a productive landscape in the public realm. The Commonground models a philosophy that landscape is a democratic environment in which everyone has an opportunity to participate. It is designed to support the ethos of Eskenazi Health and the diverse population of the city it serves in a physically and philosophically meaningful way.”

“The incredible effect this hospital and health system will have on Central Indiana was something we absolutely leapt at,” said Diller of DS+R. “The project offers an opportunity to create a unique place of profound impact for the community. It is accessible to all, not just for the most advantaged and those with the means to visit spaces like Lincoln Center. It is a place for people from all walks of life and those for whom the experience of art and beauty may be rare.”

Replete with native species vegetation, The Commonground and wider Eskenazi Health campus continue to be on pace to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This distinction would make it the first such health campus in the United States registered publicly in the national LEED® database.


CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972
Email: todd.harper@eskenazihealth.edu