Penn Centre, in color

October 4, 2007
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Penn Centre

What do you think of the latest rendering of Penn Centre? The plans, designed by Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, call for a 240-room Le Meridien hotel, 150-room aloft hotel, 64 condos and up to six restaurants. Construction is slated to begin in January.

  • Uhm... Are you freaking serious? It looks like they spent more time focusing on the Conseco Fieldhouse roof than the actually rendering itself! And what a sterile white color! Ew. :(
  • i've said all along - jw mariott, anyone? once again, a missed opportunity. maddening and for me :)
  • i am glad to see some in-fill though. just wish it had a better design. real-city design...
  • how about that twisty building there hotel instead of condos?
  • While not as bad as the JW Mariott (honestly, what is?), I wish we could get some inspiring, world-class architecture in this city for once.
  • Oh yeah, thanks for the rendering Cory. Your blog is great!
  • This rendering is only a little better than the original and really doesn't do justice to the ground floor detail. This will be wonderful at ground level in a way that the JW Marriott designers are seemingly clueless about. The tower portion isn't great but it's passable and more interesting than the JW-M. Towers are great and all, but you also have to live in a city and this will do more for the livability of the area -- with the condos and all the restaurants -- than some huge tower ever could have done.
  • i certainly agree with you, corrnd...looking forward to more detailed renderings.
  • I am pretty sure this is just a color rendering showing the different sections of the tower in more detail and not the actual color of the towers. This rendering just seems too fake if ya know what I mean?
  • Put some balconies on it and this is straight out of the Fountainhead.
    Right before Gary Cooper blew it up.
  • Excellent point CorrND. Although perhaps the design of the tower isn't that striking, it will do a great job of incorporating itself into the urban fabric and street envinronment--something JW doesn't do at all!
  • Also, does that green represent a green roof? If so, that's great!
  • I think this was Indy's last chance for great architecture for the foreseeable future. With this hotel boom, there won't be any hotels built in downtown for a long time. With high vacancy rates, there won't be any office towers built for a while. Theres very little demand for high rise condos. Just makes me sad...
  • I still just wish that they would have bought the corner lot as well then they could have done a truly remarkable design since this is going to look really odd once its build to have that surface parking lot right there next to all this new construction.

    Also the design could be alittle more inspired with some more angles, and more metal, especially on the aloft hotel part as thats what there branding is about, I just hope in this design that they included enough parking as parking is definatly an issue downtown for hotels during events.

    I'm still surprised that the city is not going to have any parking constructed for the convention center as part of that expansion as that is where alot of cars come from especially for some of the more local type conventions that people drive in for.
  • Matt - I believe the JW Marriot will have a 1000 car parking garage.
  • I really like this new rendering. It's not stunning by any means but this sort of architecture is welcome in Indianapolis: what I mean is it isn't a clone of any other building downtown and the sloping features on it keep it from being another rectangular block.

    Having been to west coast cities such as Seattle and Vancouver, I really think this building would fit in with the general class of Condos/Hotels there, and that's what I like most about it being built in Indianapolis.
  • CorrND and cityfan: Good points. In the presentation to Historic Preservation, there were some impressive street-level renderings. I'll try to get some of those in the next few weeks.
  • I too believe these are only partial color renderings. The actual design of the building does not look too bad to me. It's a little more than just a rectangular box. A lot of the design wants that people keep pitching are great, but are extremely cost prohibitive.

    Let's just get some projects off the ground for once. I'm tired of reading follow up blogs talking about what could have been.
  • I actually kind of like the building's overall look and design. Is it cutting-edge architecture? No. (And I certainly wouldn't mind some of that now and then!) But it's got a lot of interesting aspects to it. Also, don't nick-pick this rendering too much. It's obviously a SketchUp rendering and I'm guessing BDMD is still in SketchUp schematic design mode as they are still playing with the details and the overall look of the complex...which is what SketchUp is great for. Once the design is locked, and they move on to photorealistic rendering software (like 3ds max), I think we'll have a much better idea of materials, shading and lighting...which can seriously make or break a project.
  • I'm not sure what people here want.

    I keep hearing world-class architecture thrown about, but I'm not sure those using the phrase could define it.

    This is a very competent building. The architects did a right-proper job of finding a good balance between the historic demands of the Wholesale District and creating a contemporary structure.

    Persons bold enough to compare this to the JW need to take an architecture appreciation course.
  • I like it.
  • I really hope that's a green roof. If so, it's world class enough for me. Sustainability in an urban settiing is cutting edge no matter where you are in the world.
  • They should also add a 2nd green roof to the 2nd terrace! That would be pretty sweet too...
  • I like it. I would like it better if it was a green roof, and I would be ecstatic if there was an observation deck on top!
  • I think that this looks great! I am pleased with it.
  • Cory-

    What's the official height of these two towers?
  • I agree with ablerock. I think people have gotten so used to critiquing proposed projects in Indy that we have forgotten how to simply appreciate a good project. This structure is of appropriate density and offers a good urban design for a downtown that has seen its fair share of suburban-esque structures. Let's appreciate this one.
  • Is there ever a fear that Indianapolis is doing the same thing with the
    downtown hotel market that they've let happen with the housing market?
    Over develop. Over develop. Over develop. Do we really need this? Is this
    benefiting our city in any way other than having a new structure on the
    landscape. I'm not convinced. Downtown green space may not be a revenue
    cash cow, but it certainly would be welcome. Can anyone give me a tree
    that's more than 5 years old and over 15 feet tall?
  • This building really isn't THAT bad guys. No it's nothing particularly interesting, but it's not another JW. I think the problem with the JW is that it will be in a VERY prominent location. I can handle having something that's just okay on this lot.

    I'd also be interested to see all y'all's taste in architecture. Personally, I think the Washington Mutual Tower in Seattle is one of the prettiest buildings ever built:

    The best we could do at that time was Chase Tower. I wish Indy could come up with something that's not only innovative, but will be aesthetically pleasing to a large number of people. The WashMu Tower did just that....
  • Angled glass walls, grass on a roof. It takes so little to get some people excited.

    It’s not great architecture. After a year or two it will fit right in.

    LOVE the Fountainhead remark. Looks Just like it.

    Really, there is only so much one can do with a building of this size. They all start looking alike. Rows after rows after floor after floor of windows. Some fancy stuff at the top and bottom. And BAM you got a tall building/tower.

    I think the bigger problem is cities like New York and Chicago. There Great Buildings where built over time. A 100 years or more. Lots of Architectural styles. Giving Texture and relief to the rows of building. Here in Indianapolis MOST if not all of the bigger buildings where/are being built at the same time. In roughly the same architecture style. Giving them all the same detailed - Prefabricate panel look to them.

    Angles, Case in point. City Center or what ever it’s called today. Most of the building is on an angle. With the cost of land so high. Who would build like this today in downtown? NO ONE. Too much wasted land. They could put 3 penn centre on this block.

    The other is cost. WE ARE NOT NEW YORK OR CHICAGO AND NEVER WELL BE. So the powers that be are not going to spend 25%- 50% more for cutting edge architecture. ANT GONNA HAPPEN.

    It’s sad to say. But THIS IS as good as it gets, HERE in Indiana.
  • This project isn't very kind to the Harness Factory Lofts or to Georgia Street, and at least one IHPC commissioner pressed that point.

    I've seen the color renderings of street level; the design is much less confused about whether it's horizontal or vertical now. The Penn St. elevation is MUCH better than before but there is still a parking face above the second floor.
  • This is by far the best blog around. The simplicity, the format, the shortness of the initial blog, the quality of the comments, the active participation, and the value it serves. Good job. Good quality technical expertise behind this. Beats anything your competitors are doing.
  • To answer a question by a couple of people. This is planned to be a green roof. And yes I believe BDMD is still using Sketchup for prelim modeling. Once a design is nailed down, you will start to see more detail of this project from something like Viz or Revit.

    A lot of people freak out about the renderings displayed on this website. It's very hard to express the detail of a building on a scaled down picture for this blog. If the naysayers in this blog were really so passionate about the quality of architecture in this city, maybe these people should attend the IHPC meetings.

    A lot of what is 'designed' in this city has nothing to do with the architects, it has to do with the restrictions put upon them by the city and developers.
  • To Matthew:

    You should have no problem finding plenty of trees older than 5 and taller than 15 ft. tall in the downtown area. Try Military Park or Veterans Memorial Plaza.

    To Bob: Who's to say that this is as good as it gets for Indy and Indiana? While there is certainly no plethora of architecturally significant buildings in Indy, there ARE some....(did you know that at one point in time the Scottish Rite Cathedral was considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world?... its true!) and I expect that there will be more to come! The city, afterall, isn't going anywhere anytime soon.....

    To Sophia: If you're sad, I think it may be for the wrong reasons. First of all, the office vacancy rate has been higher in the past. I think they just announced, actually, that the past quarter saw a drop from the same period last year (slight as it may have been). I believe the downtown market is gearing up for an upswing within the next few years, especially with the completion of some of the current projects. Secondly, I truly believe that there IS a market for high-rise condos in downtown. Most of the high-rise apartment buildings in Indy have very good occupancy rates, I don't see why condos wouldn't be the same. If you are basing this opinion on the failure of the past project proposed for the Market Square site, that was due to a very atypical financing requirement, not necessarily a lack of interest in high-rise condos.
  • Matthew is exactly right; if all of the proposed mid-rise
    towers actually get off the ground, Indy will be saturated
    with mixed-use towers with no one interested in leasing
    space in them.
  • ^No one interested in leasing them?^ Where did you come up with that bull crap?
  • Looks good.
  • When existing retail space is booming. When existing restaurants are full to
    capacity at peak times. That's the time to push for more development,
    not in order to satisfy the need for a false sense of economic growth.
    Hotels are generally full, I'll admit. But, that's a fragile market. Unbridled
    developers will always over develop unless wise city planners step in and
    study what's best for real, long-term economic development. It's time they
    do that.
  • Matthew-

    Unfortunately, in Indianapolis, wise city planners offer recommendations, not actualy decisions. On the flashy, major developments, those decisions are often made by those on the top floor of the CCB well before they ever get to the hands of teh planners.
  • Our city planners are generally nice, well-educated and well-intentioned people but very few have real-world (i.e. market-based) experience outside the CCB. At least the guy on the 25th Floor does have that experience. I'd rather have him making the final call. I can vote him out if I disagree with his choices.
  • If this life-long Democrat had to base her vote on the architectural calls the guy on the 25th floor has made for this city, I'd be voting Republican for the first time in my life.
  • i'm with you, sophia!
  • The design is great. It is a great city design. The building is very interesting and Could easily fit into any city. The JW Marriott design was horrible. I believe that is the worst design I have ever seen but the Penn Centre is very nice.
  • I agree Steve.... I think this project has a very urban feel and will be a great addition to downtown!

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