New JW design unveiled

December 19, 2007
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Plans for a 1,000-room JW Marriott convention hotel now envision a taller building, with a whole new look and a larger pricetag. The hotel would be 34 stories, up from 29, and the project would cost $425 million, up from $350 million. The city and developers have been negotiating over details for months and expect to have a final deal in place tomorrow. The Metropolitan Development Commission gave permission today for the deal to be signed. Full story is here. What do you think?

JW Marriott

JW Marriott

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  • I think it is an improvement, especially the view from West Street. The view from the back, well, I will wait to see a more detailed view.

    I like it!
  • A definite improvement!
  • Hard to really judge a design on such small images... Hopefully more details will come out shortly. But I guess it looks ok. Still not completely sure what was wrong with the last version, but I'm sure that many people here will be happy to tell me! This just looks like a multi-colored curved glass box?!?!
  • I like the multi colored panels. Reminds me of butterfly wings.
  • I don't see the design as an improvement....just different. Glad to see the extra height. Hotels are always a bit hard to design because of the needed rows of windows. But daring hotle architecture is still possible ...look at some of the high-end developments at Las Vegas.
  • I think it is a big improvement from the last rendition. I really hated the last design. It looked just like a box. But this one, since it's higher... although I wish it was higher, but whatever.. I think this one is much more something to gaze at. I like the curvature of the building as well. It also exemplifies the rest of the downtown buildings... it's cohesive. But my ultimate fondness for the Hotel Intercontinental still sticks. I still like that one better the JW Marriott, but can't have everything :)
  • While I like the curved design, I'm worried that those multi-colored panels are going to look dated 5 years from now (if they don't already). I really wish we could just have some nice contemporary design without trying to be daring by throwing up a bunch of colors on the side of the building.
  • The multi-colored panel, along with the curve definitely gives it a texture that was missing before. Jean Nouvel did this very successfully in Barcelona.
    The biggest challenge for this project is if it will help to create a crisp western edge for the downtown. With White River State Park next door, there will never be anything of height to butress it. So how this acts as a transition or gateway from downtown to park, in my mind, is the crucial play for the hotel.
  • I agree with you Euclid. Although it's nice to look at, but it does indeed it might be aged too quickly. Even buildings in Chicago, I don't know the name of it, but it's a striking red high rise building near the Millenium Park... That stands out very well. It doesn't seem aged to me. The Park Hyatt tower on Michigan Avenue.... Now that's a building... very impressive... But oh well... this is Indiana....
  • It's certainly an improved tower design, but what about ground-level? I want to see that before I make a final judgment. That was the biggest problem with the original design.

    Did they eliminate the second tower behind the JW Marriott?
  • I like it. Doesn't blow me away, but I like the fact that it will have more of an impact on the rest of the skyline and it's a bit less safe than the previous design. That new glass design reminds me in a way a little bit of the new library. Can't really say much about ground level, but if the glass matches the upper levels that will be neat.
  • cory, this design is great but the schedule is way off. are we going to lose the 2010 final four because all fo this is not done due to the numerous delays?
  • CorrND,

    Yes, they did eliminate the second mini tower behind the main structure. This, however, means the existing courtyard will now be visible coming from the west.

    Regardless, this re-design is an improvement. And anhe: let's hope the glass really is Nouvel-esque; it it is, I think we are going to have a real gem on our hands. Here's hoping!
  • I'm going to have to reserve judgement on the design until I see more detailed renderings and a site plan.

    The shape of the tower seems like an improvement. As for the colors, we'll have to see what they look like for real, in various lighting conditions, etc night, etc.

    The key is the street level engagement. That is what was really horrible in the old design. Not only where the buildings bland, but there was a huge blank wall on Maryland and Washington was awful as well.

    Indy is famous for generating buildings that look good if you photograph them from one specific angle. But a good building needs to have a 360 degree design, and work both a street level to a pedestrian and to the postcard photographer.

    Hopefully significant improvement in these other areas have been made as well.

    Also, I'd like to see improvements to widen in the narrow sidewalks in the area into broad promenades spanning the large distance from the core of downtown to WRSP.

    More thoughts later.
  • I think it is a better improvement then the limestone rectangle we had. I'm glad they added height. Will there still be condos? The old building had condos and they had incorporated balconies on to it. It doesn't look like this had those anymore.
  • fred -- I believe Indy has a contract with the NCAA to host the Final Four once every five years, so this should have no bearing on that. Besides, Indy just hosted the 2006 Final Four without this hotel, so it's clearly unnecessary. Using the Final Four as a reason to pick this hotel was completely ridiculous from the beginning.
  • THANKFULLY!!! This is a marked improvement, though I do share the concern for its impact at street level! Hopefully the developers have been paying attention to all of the gripeing! At 34 stories, up from 29, this should push it closer to 360' tall, making it taller than 300 N Meridian and the CCB? I really want to see the design of the other 3 towers to see how they match up. Hopefully there is distinction between each, instead of a campus that looks the same.

    Fred- The city is in no danger of losing teh 2010 Final Four, that's a done deal. Further, this project had no bearting on that bid anyway. It just would have been nice for the City to have it completed. NOW, for the SuperBowl, this will most definitely have to be completed.
  • My posts keep disappearing!
  • If you look closely at the top picture you'll detect the 'faint' outline of a huge male figure--. I wonder if that's a tip-off to some kind of digital signage that is incorporated into the building's construction? If nothing else if the UN in NY loses its lease--they could move into this building.
  • If they are going all glass, then would this building look better if it was faceted? I only ask because faceted buildings seem to be a trend right now: The Hearst building New York, the Spertus Institute in Chicago, and the Bank of America Tower in New York, etc. The downside is the faceted buildings will look dated in 5 years. This drawing is an improvement from where they were before, but still falls short of what it could be.
  • The condos are no longer in the plans: http://www.ibj.com/html/detail_page.asp?content=09021
  • well, i think 3rd time may be the charm as far as design goes...we'll have to see some site plans as well to get a full consensus.

    373 feet=height
    much more of an impact to the skyline than the previous 317. that makes me much happier.
  • I really like this building, I think the city finally did something right. Even though it will not be done in time for the Final Four, who cares, this building is something we have to live with the next 25 years and rushing it is not appropriate! Very nice design can not wait to see site plans...
  • The 2010 is not in jeopardy. There will be sufficient hotel inventory to satisfy demand.
  • Correction: The 2010 Final Four is not in jeopardy.
  • MUCH BETTER
  • I can't believe I'm saying this. I agree with Dustin. I too was more fond of the Intercontinental. But it is an improvement nonetheless. I like it.
  • I love it
  • I beleive the 2010 date was all because of the new Convention Center opening and the Super bid. In any case Michael Browning could have had more time to get the InterC...Hotel up based on this new schedule, and the covenant deletions at PanAm. What else is new!
  • The curve is nice. But this missed matched checker board grandma’s quilt pieced together glass “look?” is just BAD BAD BAD. It will look dated a year after it opens. KIGET DOSE THE HIGH RISE. Circ 1960. Why do architects always pull this check design? out of there *** when they can't think of anything new or at lest good. And the view in front of Victory field. Can we say ICE HOUSE? COLD COLD COLD. It’s like McCormick place. With out the over hangs and BAD. BLACK! Really…Put a JCPennys or Macy sign on this side and BAM big box store.....

    Why did the price go up? It has less detailing then the older design. Guess there’s an up charge for NON matching glass….. And what 75 million more and they can’t do something with the old hotel. Please. Just demo it and start with a clean site…..
  • Well I think some people are always going to be crying and saying a design sucks no matter how many times they redo this damn thing. I think that this is a much better design than before. I think the curve design in the building shows a modern tower. I am concerned that possibly the diffent colors in glass will be outdated in the future, however if it is done right, then this may not be an issue. I love it!
  • The design is more inspired than the two previous versions.

    Would like to see more detail of how this connects to the convention center and White River State Park.

    Wonder how the revised incentive package is structured.
  • Could you release the rendings of the other three hotels - a 250-room Courtyard by Marriott, a 168-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and 150-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott ?

    How will they be incorporated into this design and fit onto this odd shaped plot of land?

    Will they be the standard prefab boxes?
  • The overall design is much improved and is a welcome change from the conservative nature of architecture in Indianapolis.

    In addition, Indy can be proud of the the design review process for this project. It was not so long ago that architecture and design was a non-factor when getting approval by the City. This process is indicative of the changing culture in Indy, where architecture is appreciated and held to a higher standard.

    On another note - i still think a green rooftop garden overlooking Victory Field would have been impressive. Also, we still need to see renderings for street level.
  • A GREAT improvement. I like it very much. Am anxious to see more detailed renderings, but this looks great. Glad to see it.
  • the redesign is much nicer than the other two. I like how it curves and uses colored glass(though it could quickly become an eyesore). I want to see how it goes with the street level. If it comes to a point were its an eyesore they can just refacade it. ;)
  • wow, bob, you shouldnt be so pessimistic. i don't really understand what you mean when you say they always pull the check design. havent really seen too many buildings go up with that design in the midwest, that's for sure, and i went through chicago and milwaukee back in october (though there's one proposed in brewercity).

    I'm glad they made the effort to redesign it again. i was disappointed with the second design and i'm thankful they listened to opinion.

    some people say it may be an eyesore in the future...at least it steps out on a limb somewhat. i like it and i like the height.
  • I'm from the school of thought that says a good design clearly of an era is still a good design. I work in an area where there might be a mid-century modern building near buildings from opposite ends of its century, and it all contributes positively to the urban fabric when the designs are generally good.

    From what I've seen so far, this seems like a generally good design.

    In the sunset rendering there appears to be a consistent look right down to the ground, with windows, on the West St. side. The Maryland St. side still looks like a shoebox (see rendering published in The Star for a view from inside The Vic), but that seems to be a consequence of the building's function as a convention center hotel with ballroom and assembly spaces on the first couple of levels. An exterior smoking balcony overlooking The Vic might be a nice touch though.

    One thing that needs to be considered is the morning glare/reflection focused toward downtown (state government complex, Westin, and Simon building) by that arc if the glass has a high level of reflectance.
  • I would like to reiterate what Kevin posted. We should be pleased that there was an additional redesign. Evidently our voices as well as those of other citizens were heard.
  • It's okay, better that it's taller. Even taller, like 40 stories, would be a big improvement. And a nice crown that lights, like on Chase tower, would make a huge difference.
  • Appears the tower will be overlooking the enormous roof of the ballroom/convention space.

    Considering the potentially spectacular views, it would be nice to have this space utilized as a green roof or outdoor patio restaurant.

    It could boost revenue by having a popular rooftop cafe during the summer baseball season and salvage the demand for rooms facing a potential bland view of ugly roofs.
  • Anyone who currently has a highrise view of downtown can tell you that the daytime image is not wonderful considering all the blacktop roofs.

    I would pay extra for a hotel room with a nice view of Victory field and a nice garden top cafe.
  • I think it's outrageous that this new hotel will not be done in time for the NCAA Final Four in 2010. That's the ONLY reason given for rejecting the Browning proposal - which was 44 stories at Pan Am plaza!!! It's location is further from downtown!!!
  • I completely agree with you Cityfan1. I'm bored with the concept of new high rise buildings only built up to the lower 30's stories. I really wished this building would have risen to 40 or 50. Oh well... Chase Tower might be the tallest in Indy for the next 200 years.
  • Let's put this to rest. The Browning proposal at Pan Am was rejected because there were unanswered questions about the ability to redevelop the plaza given the ownership and control over part of the site that is necessary to that development. It was the likelihood that those questions could not be resolved in time to get the hotel open for the 2010 Final Four that was the primary reason publicly cited for rejecting that proposal. Those questions still remain today, although ironically, a large part of those questions were resolved the same day that the Marriott's changes were announced.

    And as far as the redesign of the JWM goes, the Star has the old and new pictures together in a slide show on their website today. Take a fresh look at the new design, followed by the old design, and tell me that this isn't a MASSIVE improvement. There are certainly still aspects to the new design that some people won't like. But no one can convince me that this isn't way better than before.
  • Fred,

    The 2010 NCAA Final Four was not the ONLY reason the JW was selected over the IC.

    Reason #1) JW is one of the biggest players, domestically and internationally, in the convention business. They have exclusive and/or preferred vendor agreements with thousands of organizations, large and small. Indy wants to tap into that reliable base of convention business; IC comes nowhere close to JW when it comes to having a lock on a sizable portion of the convention income silo.

    Reason #2) The JW developers already control the land and existing structures and could, in theory, have started construction immediately. The IC developers could not offer firm pricing because of the recalcitrant owner of the underground parking at Pan Am Plaza who was asking a ridiculous amount to sell. Add to that the City's development restriction covenant on the plaza and this was another easy point in favor of the JW.

    Reason #3)

    JW was, for better or for worse (for aesthetic reasons, I say worse), was able to offer a variety of different hotels rooms across a huge range of price points. Economically, this makes more sense than constructing one giant luxury tower that would not turn a profit anywhere near as quickly.

    Reason #4)

    White Lodging's financing plan is cut and dry; Browning was dependent on too many partners and this made the City, which could not afford another debacle like MSA, uneasy.

    Reason #5)

    The City has long considered the current JW site to be an eyesore and saw this as a great opportunity to build a landmark near White River State Park. The thinking is that as the gateway from the west, that stretch should be beautified first; the core of the city will build up overtime on its own.

    Reason #6)

    Add to all the above a tiny smidgen of politics. I will say no more on this point.


    To make a long story short, the decision boiled down to JW being far less riskier than the IC. Sure, the IC was a better design and is a more prestigious brand but economics ruled the day. I can live with this.

    What I cannot live with is the City's baffling failure to mandate, not suggest, some form of LEED certification. Totally mind-blowing. At the very least there should, as many bloggers have noted, a green roof on the low rise section and at least a rudimentary water capture and purification system throughout the complex. When the City drops $48.5 million on a project primarily targeted at convention visitors, we should be making the statement that despite our horrible environmental image, Indianapolis understands the challenges, is modern and is committed to improving the quality of our built environment. What a missed opportunity.

    While it is almost certainly too late to add a water capture system, a green roof can still easily be incorporated into the design
  • Hey Reality B, you certainly have the info there!...and the original consultant request did have a desire for tentative green roof design, not sure if they are going with it now, or of any more green initiatives, but the architects are all LEED certified and they may surprise us later!
  • Bart Peterson made green roofs one of his signatures, so had he been re-elected I think we'd see it for sure. With Ballard coming into office, we'll have to see.
  • It will be interesting to see how the sustainability of the hotel plays out. HOK literally wrote the book on sustainable architecture, so they certainly have the knowledge in house. That being said, HOK is also doing the new airport and I'm pretty certain that will not go after LEED certification. While building to sustainable standards is pretty easy and shouldn't impact the cost much, the certification cost is an additional amount of money that would not ordinarily be spent. So we'll see.
    In general though, a building can be very sustainable without a green roof, especially one with such a high square footage to roof area ratio. The biggest impact would be if they can significantly reduce the energy and water usage from the baseline. Ironically, this and the previous design hurt that cause by turning the tower 90 degress and exposing an extremely large expanse of glass to the west. The potential solar heat gain can be mitigated but, they are still working from a deficit.
  • Folks, green roofs are a small part of sustainable design. The site's already paved and everything already runs off.

    Water and power use are the real keys to green, as the additional enclosed space will represent new demands on the water system, sewage treatment plants, and electric grid. The solar gain is the big deal as anhe pointed out. Not just from the west...the east face will be in sunlight all morning too.
  • Like it better and better the more I look at it. But i really think some light scheme at the top and a nice crown would have made a tremendous difference. Just think of how that would look on those nice night-time downtown shots from the goodyear blimp on nights of nationally televised games...
  • Cityfan1... I think you make sense. Since that portion of downtown is less dense, and the building itself is going to be something like the Burj Dubai... all alone away from the core. It should have some kind of noticable aesthetic about it at night time to cohere the feeling of a downtown on the west side. This sort of reminds me of downtown Phoenix. Technically, downtown Phoenix has its own core, but there is separate dense cluster of buildings/high rises down 2nd Street.
  • Dustin, do you do anything else all day besides post on here???
  • Dear Jared the Galleria of Jewelry,

    I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for your infatuated curiosity about my daily agenda.

    To each his/her own, Happy Holidays!
  • Dear Columbia Club Snot/Dustin/Whatever other aliases you use on here,

    The IndyStar boards are calling your name.
  • I'm pleased. I give it a B+, especially for Indianapolis. ha ha...yeah don't even TRY to compare hotel development in Indy to Vegas. That's a WHOLE different market over there. Yeah I'd like to see more than 34 stories too, but this'll be as tall as the City County Building, which for Indy will still have a nice impact, especially since it's some distance away from the little cluster that now comprises our 'skyline'...
  • A HUGE improvement. I love the new design!!! Hopefully, the base is not all grey like that.
  • As many have done, I continue to follow the development of this important project fo the city. As the details become refined, it has been interesting to see that the detail has become more attractive.

    By the way, Cory, having just read recent posts, in particular from Dusting/Columbia Club Snot, he seems to have crossed the line.

    Perhaps he deserves a permanent boot?

    Hope you have a Happy New Year!
  • Thanks, berwickguy. I removed the recent comment from Dustin and will be moderating his future comments.
  • Indianapolis FINALLY gets a quality building!!!! I would love to see the other proposed designs that Mr White had to choose from.
  • While i do like this design MUCH more i feel it would be nice if they gave some extra treatment to the top of the building!

    Great job with the concave, multi-color glass tho... :)

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