Also known as Browning Day Pollak, Inc. (1969-1982), and Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, Inc. (1983-2019), the architecture firm founded by James E. Browning and Daniel Alan Day in 1967 has participated in the design of many landmark structures in Indianapolis.

A man is holding an architectural model of a building in each hand. There is another model in front of him.
James Browning, 1988 Credit: Patty Espich, IndyStar View Source

James E. Browning (Oct. 26, 1932-Mar. 24, 2008), an Indianapolis native who received a BA in landscape architecture from Michigan State University, began his career in landscape architecture in 1964, leaving behind his experience as a world-class figure skater. Daniel Alan Day was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and earned his BFA in landscape architecture at the University of Illinois. The pair started their practice concentrating on Zoning and development issues. In 1968, Browning and Day were the first to propose transforming the downtown portion of the Central Canal into “the spine of a new community.”

During its early years, the firm consulted on the design of Eagle Creek Park and undertook playground projects for the Indianapolis Department Of Parks And Recreation. Their work included areas of the city as diverse as Eagle Highlands and Castleton. Browning and Day hired Claire R. Bennett, a nationally recognized landscape architect, as their first employee. By the late 1960s, the practice grew to include four landscape architects.

Through their experience with landscape architecture projects, the firm gained early knowledge of many proposed architectural projects. This led to the decision to expand into the practice of architecture. Richard J. Pollak (Feb. 26, 1942-Apr. 23, 2005), who like Day attended the University of Illinois, joined the firm as a principal in 1969. Pollak came to Browning Day having served as assistant dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University (BSU).

With Pollak on board, the firm began its architecture practice with the renovation of an American Fletcher National Bank branch at 2829 North Meridian Street, and the firm became known as Browning Day Pollak. Significant hires of this era included Craig W. Mullins, who graduated from BSU in 1971 and taught for two years in its College of Architecture and Planning before joining the firm in 1973 or 1974, and John Dierdorf, who joined the firm in 1974.

A modern, two-story, white stone building has rounded corners and two unbroken, horizontal rows of windows wrapping all the way around the building. Projecting from the front is a glass extension ending in a round tower.
WTHR Channel 13 Building, ca. 1990s Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

While the firm was known as Browning Day Pollak, it designed the Indianapolis Sports Center (1979) and the Michael A. Carroll Track and Field Stadium and the Indiana University Natatorium (1982) on the Iupui Campus. These projects led to a national practice in sports architecture. The firm’s design projects also included landscape architecture for Obelisk Square at the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza (1975) and for Monument Circle (1977), as well as the Wthr Tv studios building (1982). In 1983, Pollak left the firm and joined Browning Investments, Inc. Mullins and Dierdorf became principals in the architecture firm, and it was renamed Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf (BDMD).

During the 1980s and 1990s, BDMD experienced considerable growth. In 1992, the Indianapolis Business Journal listed it as the largest architecture firm in Indianapolis, as determined by 1990 fee billings. The firm served as project architects on several downtown revitalization projects, including the Hoosier Dome (1984), Landmark Center (1984), and Pan American Plaza (1987). BDMD architect Jonathan Hess, designed one of Indianapolis’s most recognizable buildings, the southwestern style eiteljorg museum of american indians and western art (1989). The Eli Lilly And Company corporate headquarters (1994) and downtown Central Canal renovation (2006) also belong in the BDMD portfolio of Indianapolis work.

There are four white, stone, rectangular office buildings of descending height standing tallest to shortest, The first two floors of each building are made of glass between square columns.
Eli Lilly and Company Corporate Headquarters, ca. 1992 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The firm again became known as Browning Day in 2020, following the retirement of Mullins. Dierdorf announced his retirement in May 2022. Browning Day’s most recent Indianapolis area projects include Innovation Hall on the IUPUI campus, the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering at Marian University, the Greenwood Fieldhouse, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gate 1 and Pagoda, Infosys, Headquarters, First Internet Bank, and the new Iu Health Medical Campus. The firm remains among the top architecture firms in the city.

Revised December 2022

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