The Stone Age Institute
Facility Architecture and Construction


Stone Age Institute front view

The Stone Age Institute is located in Bloomington, Indiana, approximately 5 miles north of the Indiana University campus, and situated in a 30-acre tract of scenic parkland nestled in the rolling, wooded hills of southern Indiana. To our knowledge, this is the first research facility in the world dedicated to Stone Age Research.

The building comprises four major elements: a circular tower as the entrance (with a museum gallery on the first floor and a reading room on the second floor), a two-story vaulted library/great room, an administrative wing, and a research wing with offices and laboratories. Outside architectural features include a circular stone wall in front of the entrance, a stone retaining wall behind the building, and a nearby circular stone ‘ruin’ that serves as an outdoor area for flintknapping and other experimental archaeological work.

Conceived and designed specifically for Stone Age and human origins research, the 11,400 square foot Institute was completed in December of 2003. The architects were Mary Krupinski and Dawn Gray of the Bloomington firm, Kirkwood Design Studio. The building design was the result of a close collaboration between the architects, Stone Age Institute Co-Directors Kathy Schick and Nicholas Toth, and Stone Age Institute Board member, Henry Corning. The contractor was the Indianapolis firm, Meyer Najem, Inc.

As Palaeolithic archaeologists, we wanted to make a strong architectural statement in stone in this facility. Over one million pounds of stone were used in the construction of the building, consisting of sandstone from Indiana and Kentucky, Indiana limestone from the Bloomington area, quartzite from the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and selected nodules of knapped English flint as accents over entrances and fireplaces. The master stone masons carefully shaped the massive stones, some weighing hundreds or even thousands of pounds, and used the ancient dry-stone technique as a common theme in the tower, wainscoting, fireplaces, freestanding stone wall at the entrance, exterior retaining wall, and outdoor flintknapping circle.

A selection of photos of the interior and exterior of the facility can be found here, and photos taken during construction of the facility can be found here.