The Pyramids - Atlas Obscura

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The Pyramids

Inspired by a piece of concrete, these three pyramid-shaped buildings have been beloved Indianapolis landmarks for over 50 years. 


The design of the former College Life Insurance Company headquarters, or the Pyramids as they are commonly known, was the brainchild of the famed architect Kevin Roche. For Roche (who trained under Eero Saarinen and designed such celebrated buildings as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Ford Foundation Headquarters), the inspiration for the buildings was a piece of concrete he saw on the side of the road, which resembled a pyramid.

At the time, Roche was working on a design for the College Life Insurance Company in Indianapolis. He thought the pyramidal concrete was an appropriately functional shape for the then-thriving business, which wanted to incrementally add building capacity as the size of its personnel grew. Roche’s initial vision was to add additional pyramids as more office space was needed, for a total of nine buildings. However, only three were built during the initial construction period in 1971.

The three buildings, collectively known as the Pyramids, are the most impressive structures on the 200-acre College Park development. Built in a slick brutalist style, each building is constructed of two gleaming blue exterior walls supported by reinforced concrete, which comprise the other two walls. Each pyramid is 11 stories tall, contains over 120,000 square footage, and is connected via a network of underground and aboveground passages. All three overlook a 25-acre lake.

Today, the Pyramids are owned by Indiana-based real estate development firm KennMarr and are currently undergoing renovation. Sightseers need not worry, though: the exterior aesthetics that make the Pyramids so iconic will remain intact.

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