Case Study

The Farm at Crossroad Commons A Modern Agri-Destination Aspires to Revitalize a Community

Merrillville, Indiana, USA

The Challenge

With its ideal climate and soil conditions, Lake County enjoys a long and productive agricultural tradition. However, development patterns in recent decades have converted this vital resource into buildings, pavement and soil depleting monoculture crops. HKS’ design intends to unlock the site’s potential and return it to its roots, evoking Northwest Indiana’s rich agricultural heritage.

Through sophisticated integration of ecology and history, innovative performance-based design and advanced environmental systems, HKS proposed an ambitious masterplan development that reconnects the community to one of its most valued resources: the land.

The Design Solution

The Farm at Crossroad Commons is Merrillville lost and re-found.  HKS’ vision for the masterplan is grounded in deep appreciation and understanding of the community’s land, culture, history, and ecology.

This is manifest in HKS, OJB and Sherwood’s response to the regional drivers of the area’s food desert, degraded hydrology, and need for community connectivity. The agricultural history, quality of soils, and the educational value of community farming based in polycultures are the framework for the plan and program.

The site creates a raw interface between the architecture that equally supports the people and the agriculture of the region that has historically provided for them. 

Abundant amenities provide health, wellness, and education through diversified agricultural production and livestock. Farm-to-table restaurants tap produce grown on the farm, and the microbrewery and distillery use hops and wheat grown just a stone’s throw away. The visitor’s center and greenhouse, equestrian arena, farmer’s market and more offer a variety hands-on activities and engagement.

The meeting and event conference center situated at the project’s heart knits the project into one cohesive development featuring uniquely Indiana, one-of-a-kind offerings that celebrate the community and bring the region together as visitors experience a holistic style of living.

The arts and cultural programming provide community engagement and educational opportunities as well, with an art gallery and a traveling art exhibit, environmental urban art, and a living artist studio as an integral feature of the development.

The Design Impact

The Farm provides economic opportunities for a new generation of farmers and access to local and healthy foods that decrease the region’s reliance on imported and processed foods – a major contributor to health problems like obesity and diabetes.

The estimated $350 million private-public investment project is expected to create 600 construction jobs, 1,000 permanent jobs and nearly $100 million in new local, regional and state tax revenues over 10 years.

Project Features

  • Working, education-based 27 acre farm
  • 83,500-square-foot (7,260-square-meters) meeting, conference and event center
  • 108,000-square-foot (10,030-square-meters) office building
  • Four hotels totaling 520 guest rooms
  • 18 townhomes and 32 condominiums
  • Visitors center and year-round greenhouse
  • Art gallery and working art/music studios; Artist-In-Residence Program
  • Two farm-to-table restaurants, microbrewery and distillery
  • 1,300 spaces of underground parking
  • Equestrian center, horse riding and bicycle trails
  • Town Green: 24,000 square feet (2,230 square meters) of outdoor event space
  • Children’s park
  • Wellness center


  • 2019 Texas Society of Architects Studio Award
  • 2019 AIA Dallas Unbuilt Juror Citation Award