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IUSM community invited to partake of The Commonground

Aug. 28, 2014

A new addition to the landscape is available to faculty, staff and students at the IU School of Medicine on the northwest edge of the IUPUI campus, across from the front entrance of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and near the Ball Gardens project and newly renovated Rotary Building.

kids in fountain

Children play in the fountain whose coping contains an excerpt from a poem written by award-winning poet and professor of English Mitchell Douglas.

The Commonground at Eskenazi Health is a unique outdoor green space focused on community, serenity and wellness for patients, visitors and employees on the Eskenazi Health campus. The space celebrated completion with dedication ceremony July 29 that included Eskenazi Health officials and civic leaders from across Central Indiana. 

"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 Lisa Harris, M.D., associate dean for Eskenazi Health Affairs at the IU School of Medicine and CEO 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 Commonground features a productive outdoor landscape with a dining center, a garden community space and an expansive overhead trellis covered year-round with native vine species and plant life. The space aims to create 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. 

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. Notable features are a surface-level fountain, 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.

kids doing the hula

IUSM and community leaders participated in an opening ceremony for The Commonground at Eskenazi Health in August.

Some of the world’s most acclaimed design and architecture firms collaborated to create The Commonground, including design firms Land Collective, The Olin Studio, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Community leaders who joined representatives of these firms at the opening ceremony were U.S. Sen. Dan Coats; U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly; U.S. Congressman André Carson; U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks; Brian Payne, president and CEO of Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Indianapolis Foundation; Maggie Lewis, City-County Council president; and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Community partners and local organizations present to help celebrate the space included 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.

Grand opening festivities last month 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.

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