Skip to main content

Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records Collection

Identifier: DADA-059

Scope and Contents

This collection contains drawings, preservation plans, project files, and an extensive digital-born collection relating to the work of Walter S. Blackburn and his firm Blackburn Architects between the years of 1975 and 2009. Large drawings, either from design development phases or construction bid packets, can be found for a few of Blackburn’s more prominent works which include the Grace Apostolic Church, the RCA Dome and Convention Center Renovation, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Some booklets on preservation planning projects involving the city of Indianapolis, specifically for the Lower Center Canal, Lockerbie Square, the North Meridian Corridor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, give insight to Walter’s involvement in urban planning.

The digital collection includes over 80 CDs with various file formats. A wide variety of projects can be found in this collection, ranging from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to the Lilly Research Laboratory. The type of content available depends on the project, but common documents include AutoCAD drawings and letters of correspondence between parties involved. This collection is still being processed but can be accessed at the Drawings and Documents Archive until completion.


  • Creation: 1975 - 2009


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Drawings and Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Drawings and Documents Archive.

Biographical Note

Born on February 21, 1938, to Dr. Cleo W. Blackburn and Fannie Scott Blackburn, Walter Scott Blackburn was known for his architectural work in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. He lived in his native state of Indiana for the majority of his life. After studying engineering at Purdue University for a time, Walter transferred to Howard University School of Architecture where he graduated in 1963. It was here that he met his future wife and business partner, Alpha Coles. They would go on to have three children: sons Chi and Anthony and daughter Sydney. After graduating, the couple moved back to Indianapolis, where Walter wanted to open his own firm. In 1967, he became a registered architect and finally started Blackburn Architects with Alpha in 1981.

Walter and Alpha both won national awards for their work and were recognized for their accomplishments. Walter would go on to receive numerous awards and positions including the title of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1990, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University along with Alpha, the 1998 Edward Pierre Award from the Indiana chapter of the AIA, visiting professor at Ball State University, and member of the Board of the National Institute of Building Sciences in 1992. As an African-American architect, he chaired the AIA’s Diversity Taskforce in 1992 and was soon promoted to vice president. Some of his most respected works are the Grace Apostolic Church, the Artsgarden at Circle Center, and the RCA Dome, all of which are (or were) in Indianapolis. One of the final projects Walter completed was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, a commission he and Alpha won. In addition to his work as an architect, Walter was an active member of the Indiana Arts Commission. He passed away on August 9, 2000.

Blackburn Architects’ work encompassed a wide range of design services including architecture, planning, interior design, and public art planning. Their clients included universities such as Butler and Purdue, public schools, churches, hospitals, and transportation organizations. The firm as a whole has been awarded several honors for their designs. Alpha took over as president of Blackburn Architects once Walter passed away, but the firm has now closed.


5.5 Cubic Feet (1 MSS box, 1 OVB box, 1 flat file drawer)


The Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

The Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records were received by Drawings and Documents Archive as a donation from Alpha Blackburn on 2016/08/12.


No additions are expected.


“A Celebration of the Life of Walter Scott Blackburn.” Obituary. 14 August 2000. Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records, Drawings and Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.

Blackburn Architects. “Snapshot.” Firm Informational Booklet. Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records, Drawings and Documents Archive, Ball State University Libraries.

“Walter S. Blackburn Award.” AIA Indiana. Accessed 6 December 16.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed. Finding aid created 2016/12/06 by Ashley Danielson.

Walter S. Blackburn and Blackburn Architects Architectural Records
Created by Ashley Danielson
Created 2016/12/06
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Andrew Seager Archives of the Built Environment Repository

Architecture Building, Room 120
Muncie IN 47306 USA
765-285-3726 (Fax)