Before & After: Fountain Square

September 8, 2008
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Fountain Square rehabA former used-appliance store in Fountain Square has a whole new look after a $300,000 renovation. The property at 1315 Shelby St. now has four apartments upstairs (all leased) and up to four commercial spaces totalling 8,000 square feet (available starting at $6.50 per square foot). It's the first commercial project for residential veterans Bill and Joanna Taft Fountain Square appliance storeof locally based T-Square Development. The Tafts had eyed the B.L. Appliances and Furniture store for several years before buying it last year and renovating it from top to bottom. The project was funded by a loan from Citizens Gas, part of the company's neighborhood reinvestment efforts. The Tafts are directing their leasing pitch to office users, retailers and not-for-profits and are touting the building's proximity to the Wheeler Arts Community and a planned Cultural Trail extension.
  • Love it! I've been watching this one progress and it's great to see it finally finished. I can't wait to see what kind of businesses go in the retail part.

    Also, if you want to see an outstanding rehab, check out what happened to the Fountain Inn just down the street. The Brass Ring is gorgeous!
  • This is a good project. Now let's get it leased. The price seems like a bargain.
  • Agree with Benjamin about this, and that the Brass Ring is neat. Shelby Street is becoming a new focal point for FS.
  • Look closely and you'll see that in between a lot of crap, a few really, really nice things are happening. It's just a matter of time before FS really becomes enlightened.
  • Fountain Square is definitely on the up-swing and I love the work they have done to this building. But I worry about what the sale of the Murphy Building and any changes that may bring will do to the area. Right now it's great going there on First Friday and enjoying the art and artist. If the new owner brings about wholesale changes, that could have very detrimental effects to the whole area.
  • That's a very tastefully done building.

    The apartments we done well too, with more modern interiors kitted out from IKEA and the like.
  • Inconsistent Comments
    I don't understand. Posters on this site berate the BW3 facade because
    it's yellow and inappropriate, yet this type of redesign, in a very
    historic are. . .with a very yellow facade. . . .gets no comment at all.
    If the yellow is inappropriate anywhere it would be in a historic area
    like FS, Don't get me wrong. . . .this is a big improvement, and I don't mind
    the yellow (nor did I mind it at BW3s). . .just interesting that there is a lack
    of consistency in posts.
  • Matthew, look at the origins of the building. They did not take yellow and junk and plaster it all over a historic building. They remade this out of a blighted furniture store structure. This building if it was razed would not have batted an eye, but it is nice to see a structure recycled in this way.

    The BW3 fiasco has a gaudy tacky facade on a historic building. Plus look at how well this building redesign connects to the pedestrian (big, transparent windows with storefronts!), unlike the BW3 restroom, fake window fiasco.

  • Matthew, it has nothing to do with the area and everything to do with the building. Look at what this facade replaced. Nothing significant or noteworthy. BW3 took an old Art Deco building and plastered on their corporate facade on the ground floor, in stark contrast to the rest of the building.
  • Yay for Matthew, you win as first commenter to go the Why is yellow OK here and not at BW3? route! I knew it was coming!

    This renovation is a textbook example of how to relate WELL and successfully to a street. The before pictures, on the other hand, are reminiscent of the new BW3 - look at the sixze of those windows relative to the blank facade space. paint it yellow, add some awnings, and the two could be twins.
  • My point: the renovation is (albeit an improvement to the original) still a
    modern-looking structure in a historic part of town. The color and style of
    architecture are out of place.
  • Matthew,

    The bright color works on this building because it harmonizes with the bold stylings of the rest of the facade.

    First, note the large white bands. They give the building a fresh, vibrant, and graphic quality that is complementary to the intense yellow. The large blocks of gray offer much-neede respite from the energy of the yellow. If, for example, the whole facade were yellow, it would be overwhelming and a failed design. The choice of light fixtures is also a positive decision. They're not great, but they are simple, clean-lined, and work well with the simple, modernist treatment of the facade. Imagine the visual discord if the designer had gone with some faux-19th-century, overly-ornamented lights. Reopening the large windows allow passers-by to actually peer into the building and see what's going on inside, which might entice them to wander in.

    It's not an extremely sophisticated design by any means, but it is well balanced and pleasing to the eye.

    The bright yellow of the BW3 facade is not its problem. The problem is the designer's aesthetically discordant use of elements. The stonework, awnings, color, and window treatment are a tasteless and crude combination. And that's just aesthetically. Functionally, its facade is an urban design 101 nightmare.
  • thank you matt for saying exactly what I was thinking. Seems like most people on here have an agenda. Embrace people wanting to open a business downtown. There are way too many vacant buildings downtown just waiting on their perfect design. Drive down Washington, Meridian St, and Maryland St. Vacant buildings with doorways that smell like urine. Its the broken windows theory. If it looks like crap, nobody must care so just go ahead and vandalize it, or in most cases urinate all over it. Most of you people need to get a life and dream about your perfect city. Something is better than nothing.

    PS Why was the Old BW3's closed last night? Many of the bars were even having tent parties, but when I drove by the place about 10PM it was closed.
  • Not only urban design 101 disaster, ablerock, but an interior design 101 disaster as well: Welcome to our restaurant, here are the toilets!.

    Matthew, a vital city always has modern/contemporary buildings adjacent to historic ones. Change is a necessary component of vitality.

    The BW3 facade resists vitality by closing out the street. It also uses cheap materials in a part of town that deserves higher quality - the rents downtown are higher than in the average suburban strip, right? And uses those materials in a faux-historic way: the fake stone base mimics a water table, which is a historic element that served a function: a thicker base at the bottom of a load-bearing masonry wall. Used as it is at BW3, which is an actual historic structure built with historic means, the fake stone base is clearly non-functional and thus looks tacked on and cheap.

    The project above shows a humble building using humble materials. ALL of the materials are humble (painted wood, storefront) and are used in a fun, zing-ey way, not trying to look like anything they are not.

    I'm serious, I can teach people to understand design, I know I can!! At least I'm not gonna stop trying.
  • I don't see how the yellow ties in to the building in FS. I do think it's wonderful that this building has been renovated, but I too am once again taken aback by the hypocrisy and arbitrariness of the likes and dislikes of the architecturally educated posters on this website. And please note a large functional difference between this structure in FS and Bw3s downtown - FS will be a store front for drawing people in to shop so it largely benefits (as does, arguably, the design) from the large windows as people walking by can see the inventory and are invited to enter the store. However, Bw3s is relying on its branding and franchise value to draw customers in and thus, doesn't rely on the large windows. In fact, it's quite obnoxious to sit in a dark bar and have the sun glaring in your eyes. Why would a business owner voluntarily invest in the expense of windows when he will just have to cover them up to appease is patrons and the windows don't attract business?
  • I am convinced that Natlie and downtowner are either the same person or both work for the company which owns BW3.....

    The building in FS is attractive, the BW3 is not....... And what makes everything worse is that the moron building the BW3 never even got the design approved in the first place! Geez.... who does the guy think he is?!?!?
  • Yeah Natalie, I suppose it would have been an astronomical expense to keep the large windows and simply install some nice wooden blinds or shutters which could be drawn during the day (thus, appeasing those light fearing customers of whom you speak) and opened in the evening (adding to the curb appeal of that block and allowing people a glimpse of the activity inside - possibly drawing in NEW customers).
  • Natalie,

    Our opinions are certainly not arbitrary. I explained as succinctly as possible in this arena why one design is a success and the other is a failure.

    Regarding your window comment, have you ever been to Broad Ripple? People love watching-people outdoors as they drink. They also love to be seen as they drink, especially in urban areas with heavier foot traffic. Nightllife and Drinking does not always equal sulking in a dark corner listening to country music and watching football. Bars with window seats or outdoor seating areas are typically packed. (ie The Slippery Noodle, Bourbon Street Distillery, Champps, The Chatterbox, MacNivens, BARcelona, Coaches, etc.)

    I can understand blocking out the surroundings when an establishment is in a characterless strip mall fronting a parking lot. They want to create a false escape, another world to drink in. But when you're on one the best corners in the city you have a unique opportunity to feed off and add to the of the energy of the city. People downtown want that. Not taking advantage of the location and incorporating the pulse of the city into your business is baffling. BW3 has a special opportunity that they are completely ignoring.

    It's tantamount to building a house on the ocean with no back porch or rear windows

    Most bars would kill to have that address and visibility.
  • I love what they did with the building on Shelby. Anything but Square is the motto for FS and I think the color is hip & cool, very urban. Bravo!
  • wonder what you'd do
    with a budget and a clue
    which item have you?

    It's a successful, context-sensitive, budget rehab. Get over your design cruft.
  • The folks I know who are in the restaurant and bar business seem to thrive on the perception of activity. They always seat their tables at the front of the store first with their most desirable and interesting patrons. They put the patrons with obnoxious kids in back by the restrooms so as not to detract from the appeal of entering (I have four kids. I know this from experience). Take a look around at some of the more successful eating and drinking establishments around Indy, and you will see a lot of open windows and street level activity. Perhaps a good example is McNiven's. Know your business, hire professionals when you need to, and play by the rules. Then paint everything yellow and no one will care. I don't know this whole thing seems silly. Let's move on.
  • Sorry ablerock I was composing while you posted that last one. My last post may sound repetitive now.
  • Donna, your taste does not equal perfection.
    Everybody has different taste in architecture. Urban development is one thing but stating you have superior knowledge in what architecture should be is like telling someone who likes oranges they are dumb because cherries are so much better.
    Anyway, I like what they have done with it. It has the sort of 1870's look on that corner structure with a few contemporary 1-story shops.
    I like that.
    There are multiple buildings in Indianapolis that are longing for this sort of work.
  • I always get seated by the window. :D
  • I heard BW 3 bought the Murphy Bldg
  • I heard BW 3 bought the Murphy Bldg.
  • BW3 should be relieved to learn that you get very little direct sunlight in a north facing window.
  • Sure, Socrates, everyone has different taste in architecture. And my two professional degrees, registration in two states as an architect, and 25 years in the profession don't make my taste perfection, just based on a lot of study and experience. Trying to explain, from an analytical standpoint, why some things are good and others aren't is obviously futile in many cases, but some people will get it.

    It's like music: enjoy whatever kind you like, but don't go around saying Britney Sear's voice is as good as Aretha Franklin's. There ARE quantitative judgements one can place on architecture, just like on music. Doesn't mean we can't have all kinds. But who would you rather have sing at your daughter's wedding?
  • Sorry, Britney SPEARS - not that anyone defending BW3 wouldn't know who she is.
  • Silence Donna, get back to the kitchen and make me some hotwings!! Oh yeah, make sure you are barefoot when you do it.
  • I'm amazed by how quickly some people lash how with ignorant, bigoted and or sexist comments when they don't agree. Grow up.
  • For those arguing that BW3s would benefit from large windows, I disagree. There is a HUGE difference between the layout and management of a restaurant (like MacNiven's) and a sports bar.

    One of the biggest problems with the old BW3s was that the windows let in too much light. (Those windows were north facing). The front room was basically useless for watching a game during the day because of the light.
  • Levi, OPT in Broad Ripple and Hooters downtown: Two sports bars with big north-facing windows.
  • Architecture is designed from the outside in, not from the inside out. There are hundreds of properties in and around Marion County where you CAN design schlock like the new BW3 -- just don't expect to do it in protected areas like the Regional Center.

    The Fountain Square building looks great except for the color scheme, in my opinion. But paint is cheap and easy to change; bad architecture is not.
  • I don't disagree, a sports bar can work with large windows, but I just think that you're not making a very persuasive case if you say that BW3s would benefit from large windows the same way that MacNiven's benefits from it's garage door windows.
  • Although BW3 locations are pretty well distributed throughout the country, it's not as if they are a nationwide brand known to all the conventioneers, business travelers, and other downtown visitors. Thus, I would think that the ability to see through a window would help attract those customers not familiar w/ the BW3 experience. Regardless, the layout is not befitting of its location.
  • Yes Donna, but you being an architect for 25 years and having 2 degrees still does not qualify you to state WHAT IS better. Now, when your talking about long lasting designs(which rarely include modern.), good materials, layouts, and density than YES, someone with your experience probably does have the knowledge and advice many people would like but that doesn't mean you can state what STYLES Are better or go around with a semi-boasting attitude.
  • Just a little insight into the selection of this color scheme…
    This façade composition was discovered after the corrugated materials were removed during demolition. The Tafts have always looked for ways to repurpose and conserve throughout this project and although AXIS had proposed a fine new façade for the exterior, when this was unveiled Bill opted to re-use rather than gut. It was in good condition, but needed some elbow grease and patience. (Something I wish more developers possessed.)
    If you take a big step back and look at this stretch of Shelby, there isn’t really a complete lack of color per say… it is more like a lack of crispness and tailoring. Everything has worn edges and is a little unkempt. I felt the best way to make this project pop would be high contrasting colors: thus the white against the grays. Gray was selected to be subservient to tenant signage (like a suit to its wearer). Not knowing who or what kind of business would inhabit below, we opted to keep the color, styling and details minimal but strongly tailored to look new and fresh. Restaurant, retail, office or art gallery, the new tenants will further define the character of that building with signage and (hopefully) smart use of the storefront.
    However, this structure is now serving dual functions; it is pedestrian level storefront and an apartment building. I told Bill, let’s create a color palette that respects the potential branding identity of the tenants that will inhabit the storefronts, but we can’t pass up the opportunity (responsibility) to insert a jolt of energy and make aware the building‘s presence to Shelby commuters. The yellow is an anchor to the apartment / living area and reflects how color is used in the units. (Strong, modern and bold.) It also draws the eye to the storefront with the least amount of transparency to Shelby Street. If you look at the original photo, the canopy over the door darkened the entrance. The inclusion of more storefront as well as the yellow color fight this effect.
    This project is a great example of how to stretch development dollars and still create something that is interesting while being modest. Seeing the potential in what is already there and building on that existing character is the essence of what I feel should continue to be the design approach in Fountain Square. It is not a district of new, or of a mentality that bigger is better or that uniform is easiest and therefore best. There is an energy and enthusiasm unlike any other part of Indianapolis. I am so happy that Scott brought his vision of the Brass Ring to the neighborhood. It will be cherished for the jewel it is in this district.
    *That being said, the BW3 design isn’t fixing anything… for anyone. Spend your money making the inside nicer, then open up the windows and show how nice it is. Let pedestrians see how much fun everyone inside is having. That seems like good branding to me!
  • So, n, you're saying fresh paint and an opened-up front is a cheap and effective way to dress up a building in a neighborhood that needs help.

    I agree.
  • In many, many more words, yes.
  • Well the BW3 in Bloomington is in a strip mall, but it has huge windows on all 3 sides and is very open. They also have patio seating!

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