In 1999, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, better known as the NCAA, relocated from Overland Park, Kansas, to downtown Indianapolis, consolidating the city’s status as the amateur sports capital of the world. However, the architect was anything but amateur. NCAA welcomed Michael Graves back to his hometown to design the facility. Graves’ firm worked in partnership with Indianapolis-based Schmidt Associates.
Graves grew up in Indianapolis before becoming one of the world’s most famous architects and designers. His work is located around the globe, and he continues to create new products for Target’s Michael Graves Design collection. He is the recipient of such prestigious awards as the National Medal of Arts and the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal. While he continued to gain national fame, and opened an office on the East Coast, Graves always maintained strong personal and professional connections to Indianapolis. His other hometown works include the Indianapolis Art Center and the Thomson Consumer Electronics corporate headquarters along North Meridian Street in Carmel.
The NCAA complex is home to the organization’s headquarters and the Hall of Champions museum located on the southern edge of the White River Canal. With its double-barrel-vaulted ceiling, the office building’s profile captures the signature Graves combination of fun and function, giving the roofline playful curves while flooding the interior with natural light. For the Hall of Champions, located in front of the office, Graves drew upon the aesthetic of a football stadium, suggesting tradition and nostalgia with three stories of brick and glass. The museum opened during the 2000 NCAA Men’s Final Four, held in Indianapolis.
The historic brick building adjacent to the NCAA headquarters houses the National Federation of State High School Associations, which followed the NCAA from Kansas to Indianapolis. The collection of three buildings were situated to give this a collegiate-like campus within White River State Park.
The NCAA has a major impact on the city’s economy by bringing college sporting events to town every year. The organization has an agreement with the city to host a major NCAA event here at least once a year through 2039, and Indy has hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four six times—more than any other city. The headquarters is undergoing a a $35 million expansion designed by Indianapolis’ RATIO Architects, which will double its size and incorporate sustainable design elements.