Art & Journalism Building Courtyard

Ball State University | Muncie, IN

A landmark gingko tree is the centerpiece of this student activity hub on Ball State University’s central campus.  This unique space offers patrons a choice of quiet or active gathering areas with ample seating and amenities.  REA’s design work on this site included shaping the building’s exterior lines to create the courtyard, which also serves to protect the celebrated tree.

In preparing the campus master plan, REA selected this site along the main north-south campus corridor to be the student activity hub for the central campus.   A key component of the design was REA’s proposal that the new building and courtyard space be developed around a 30″ caliper gingko tree, which, along with a new fountain, provides a focal point for the courtyard.  Plantings provide an appropriate setting for the tree and protect its root system from being trampled.

The fountain has three granite weirs over which water cascades, creating soft white noise and additional interest for the courtyard.  The building’s lines and forms extend into the space, creating a strong relationship between the building’s exterior and the courtyard. Limestone piers and a planting bed along the east edge of the courtyard provide a sense of enclosure without isolating the space from the street activity just beyond.

The courtyard design creates several opportunities for students to gather and is the only space of its kind on campus. Students can choose to sit in sun or shade, in quiet or active areas, at movable tables and chairs, at the fountain, or on seatwalls. People bring their food from the indoor food court to the tables outdoors. There are also quiet areas to read or relax. An interior/exterior audio system adds to the courtyard’s ambience day and night.