Writer / Janet Striebel
Photographers / Dale Pickett & Eric Meyer
If you ever meet Rick Renschen, a local architect, then you won’t forget his down-to-earth demeanor and warm approachable character. The photos of his projects like Four Day Ray Brewery and Bangs Laboratories reflect topnotch designs with exquisite flair. Yet, his presence in conversation reveal a humble, hardworking and caring professional who’s passionate about meeting the needs of his clients with every mission.
Renschen was born in Nebraska, lived in Colorado and Minnesota before moving to Greencastle, Indiana when he was a junior in high school. After taking some art and drafting classes he decided that a career in Architecture would fit his innate abilities of being creative and understanding spatial relationships. He attended Ball State University, earning his Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science, Environmental Design degrees.
He started his own company called MD Architects (MDA), a commercial design studio, consisting of 10 talented and dedicated architects and interior designers. This team excels in the collaborative environment that Renschen has fostered, with the capability to handle a wide variety of project types and sizes.
“Every project is a collaborative process in our office,” says Renschen, who started the company 17 years ago. “Even when designers are not directly involved on a job, we deliberately schedule office-wide critiques to allow everyone to shape the design process.”
After having visited many cities, Renschen brings his worldly knowledge to his craft. Although his clients span across the country (including Hawaii), he’s built a reputation for his sophisticated quality of work and loyal devotion to clients here in the local area.
Some of his notable projects:
• Four Day Ray Brewery and Restaurant
• The Well Coffeehouse
• Community Hospital Physicians Network Offices (in the Edge Bldg.)
• VCA Animal Hospitals and Antech Laboratories
• Heartland Church (96th and Hague Rd.)
• Fishers Medical Office Plaza
• Flirt! Salon & Spa
• Khara Spa (Carmel)
• Bangs Laboratories
• Copper Moon Coffee (Indianapolis Airport)
Designing Unique Solutions
“We excel in tailoring our creative problem-solving skills to benefit each client’s individual needs,” Renschen says. “We do our best to reach beyond simple drawings to deliver the most aesthetic and functional plan.”
Every project introduces unique challenges. For example, since the phrase “Four Day Ray” refers to a railway laborer who would habitually work only four days, receive his pay, and disappear to the bar on the fifth day, MD Architects was asked to design a restaurant and brewery inspired by the Prohibition era American railroad but one that avoided blatant or clichéd imagery.
“Our primary efforts centered on creating the look of a gritty, old, industrial warehouse, and the impression of almost stepping into an old sepia-toned, black and white photograph,” Renschen says. “This was then intentionally mixed with contemporary amenities, an open and airy feel, and the use of textures and warm colors to draw attention to focal points like the bar, accent wall, timber lights and front stairs.”
The designs for the main bar, accent wall and timber lights all originated from a desire to reference the wood and steel materials of the old railroads, and the way customers need to enter the restaurant under the stairs was an intentional reference to sneaking into a speakeasy. To scale down the two-story restaurant, which has a 21-foot ceiling, MDA interior designers created a soothing mood with the seemingly random timber lights and suspended Edison bulbs creating the ambience of dining under the stars.
To maximize space, a mezzanine area was established on the second floor for private parties as well as an exterior passageway that allows you to look out to the brewing area. A third floor hosts office space for SteadyServ Technologies, a company that measures keg beer inventory promoting less waste and more profitability.
“Rick and the team at MD Architects were true partners in the planning, design and construction process,” says owner Chris Welch. “The MD team embraced the many challenges of designing an attractive and highly functional mixed-use building on a small site in the Nickel Plate District of Fishers. When the inevitable setbacks occurred in the design and construction process, Rick’s team responded with creative, timely and cost efficient ideas to keep the project moving forward. We are thrilled with how the project turned out and grateful to have had the support of MD Architects throughout the process.”
Another recent MDA design is The Well Coffeehouse located at the corner of 116th and Lantern Rd. (below the Escape Room). This non-profit coffeehouse roasts and serves specialty coffee while using the proceeds to provide clean drinking water to those in need. Every time you purchase a cup of coffee you’re helping to fill the well of hope and love both locally and globally.
“Rick was such a help getting The Well designed to have the feel we wanted,” says Debbie Zancanaro, owner of The Well. “He understood my vision for an industrial and rustic look, and led me through the selection of products I wasn’t familiar with. He was even gracious enough to give advice several months after the project was completed when I had additional design questions.”
MD Architects is enthusiastic about two upcoming projects, both of which involve designing therapy facilities for people with special needs.
“Every project brings its own excitement, but the opportunity for our efforts to help improve the lives of people living with autism, cerebral palsy, or down syndrome promises to be especially rewarding,” Renschen says.
One design focuses on an existing facility in Carmel, called Children’s TherAplay, that provides physical and occupation therapy on horseback. They are currently operating out of an old barn that has been retrofitted with office and therapy space, but the configuration serves them poorly and is limiting their potential. MDA has been working with the staff to develop a plan for an addition and substantial renovation to effectively double their therapy and office space, to clarify entries, and update the building appearance to be more inviting.
MDA has also been working with an organization called Giving Hope Foundation. They plan to construct a new facility in Lapel, with the hope of improving the quality of life of any person of special needs or disability, at any age, and for those that support them. Specifically, they want to provide full-life care options, where most cater only to young children and teens. They have a clear focus on helping families deal with the challenges of raising children with these special needs by offering a wide range of state-of-the-art therapies, recreational activities, training and educational opportunities and over-night and short-term respite options.
Renschen and his wife, Renee, live in Bridgewater on Geist. Their daughter, Haley, is a freshman at IU and their son, Tyler, is a junior at HSE.
When asked if Renschen renovates his own home he answers with a chuckle, “My wife won’t let me!”
Go to www.mdarchitects.com to see more photos or to learn more.