Inside Butler’s Facilities Department at 52nd Street and Boulevard Place, it’s as if Hinkle Fieldhouse had a baby. A 5-foot-wide-by-5-foot-high-by-10-foot-long plywood and red paint baby, complete with a hoop, a replica of the basketball court and miniature banners hanging above.
This mini fieldhouse, the work of Campus Engineer Rich Michal and members of the facilities staff, is one of 25 children’s playhouses built by various organizations as part of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis’ benefit project called Play It Forward. The playhouses will be on display at various locations around Indianapolis from June 1 through Aug. 31. People will have a chance to bid on them or, for the right price, buy them immediately. (Hinkle Playhouse also will be on display at the real fieldhouse May 10-14. More information about Play It Forward will be available on June 1 at PlayItForward.IndyHabitat.org.)“The playhouse is not intended to be an exact replica, but we wanted to capture its essence,” Michal said. “If it goes for as much as we hope, to the right buyer, hopefully it will be inside someplace and last a long time while helping Habitat for Humanity further its mission in Indianapolis.”Butler’s portion of this benefit project has been on the drawing board since February, when Michal met with Jim Morris, the CEO for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis. Michal was looking for some outreach opportunities for Butler staff, and Morris shared his vision for Play it Forward. (Habitat’s original specifications called for structures no bigger than 5x5x6, but Butler got a waiver to be able to replicate the rectangular fieldhouse.)Soon, Michal was meeting with RATIO Architects, the company working on the fieldhouse renovations. RATIO provided a plan. Architecture intern Colin Moore took the conceptual design and drew up a set of plans. Southeastern Supply Co. donated lumber and materials. Connor Fine Painting supplied the paint. Fastsigns provided the signs and images that line the inside of the playhouse.In mid-April, construction began. Vice President of Finance Bruce Arick allowed several of Butler’s craftsmen to devote work time to the project, including John Kunkle, Mike Goldsmith, Chris Renollet, Napoleon Watkins and Paul Thornton. Director of Maintenance Services Gerald Carlson, Charlie Truax, a supervisor in the Structures Department, Karen Quattrocchi, executive assistant for operations, Michal and Moore all donated time to work on the project after hours.“It’s been a tight timeline,” Michal said, “but the guys have done a great job stepping up.”Michal doesn’t know how much Hinkle Playhouse cost to build – a couple of thousand dollars in time and materials, at least – or for how much it will sell. But “it’s a chance to work on the representation of a structure we all feel strongly about and to have that pride and Butler spirit further displayed in the community.”“We’re excited about it and really proud of what’s taken shape,” Michal said. “Hopefully, it will be the beginning of a long partnership with Habitat. We all feel strongly about their mission and what they do, and it’s an opportunity for us as staff to take a step toward what our faculty and students do so well – outreach to the community.”