Preview of $30M project

July 6, 2009
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Check out these fresh renderings of a $30-million student housing project planned for Indiana Avenue near IUPUI. The plans by Trinitas Ventures of West Lafayette call for 250 apartment units at 1201 Indiana Ave, between Montcalm and Milburn streets south of 14th Street. The architect is Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners. An earlier story from is here. What do you think?
IUPUI student housing

IUPUI student housing

  • Where's the Applebee's?
  • Well said BLOG...

    Whereas I think that the addition of more student-geared (they're just apartments, right? Rentable to anyone but geared towards students??) housing for IUPUI is a great idea for both the school and the city, I'm not much impressed by the design. Activation of this area of downtown will be beneficial no matter WHAT design is used, but I think that this version of vanilla architecture will add much in the way of aesthetics. It looks like a principally new urbanistic design without much flair.
    This belongs in Carmel, not downtown IMHO.
  • I think it looks pretty decent!
  • I was expecting worse. It isn't great, but I don't think it's awful.
  • I don''t think it is that bad either -- yes, I am for high architectural standards, but to me, this is a win-win for the city overall and the near west side where it will be located.
  • I think it is better than a lot of the stone structures and weird designs of IUPUI's campus. I think it adds a little flavor to a rather bland campus.
    Lets hope that it just gets developed
  • I think my biggest gripe about this design is that it feels very suburban to me, much like what Carmel has done to its downtown, and much like what we see springing up in new suburban areas like Noblesville and Fishers, etc. However, this location is NOT suburban, and it generally part of a much larger college campus in an urban environment. I think this type of architecture creates a greater distance between Indiana Ave. and the rest of the downtown/canal area.

    In response to MikeW's comments on the architecture, I would like to ask which buildings you're speaking of? I don't disagree, but there hasn't been much conversation here about IUPUI's campus in general, so I'm always up for debate. Much of the masterplanning, as well as the library (and maybe the natatorium...can't remember) were designed by famed and recently deceased (2005) architect Edward Larabee Barnes. The library is a wonderful piece of architecture, though I think it's certainly a bit outdated...

    (FYI, Barnes also designed Christian Theological Seminary near Butler's campus, which has a beautiful and acoustically marvelous chapel. If you're interested and in the area, I strongly suggest that you check it out)
  • Why are Hoosiers so easily satisfied?

    Well, it's not too bad and it's better than nothing.

    Why cannot we demand excellence? Why is it always good enough. I mean, look what they got - our NFL stadium looks like a giant grocery store.

    Most local developers aren't interested in the legacy of what they construct. They just want to build the project and maximize profit and make it look not ugly.

    rant off
  • Do some of you, architectural masterminds, ever sit back and realize that there are still people out there who do like plain, old vanilla? I'm not saying every structure has to be boring... but every structure doesn't have to be unique either (as some of you allude to, on many occasions, on this blog).

    As for the design... as a plain, old vanilla guy (and I'm not old), I like the design. And here's something to think about... if it's for student housing (primary target), you can't build it out of the price range of students.
  • You know...I've heard lots of amusing connections between LOS and other building types, but saying it looks like a giant grocery store is possibly the funniest I've heard so far.

    Well said, HarveyF. Indianapolis-ans (hm, maybe Certrarian Hoosiers?) demand so little from their architecture. With beautiful pieces of architecture such as the capitol building, Soldiers and Sailors monument, City Market, Scottish Rite, Columbia Club, etc etc etc, you'd think that we'd like to continue that tradition of wonderful architecture. Yet, here we are with buildings like LOS and projects like that above that are very mediocre in their design and limited in their architectural vision. I'm not sure what my point is here, but I think we'd all like to see Indianapolis emerge as not only the home of the Indianapolis 500, but also great and NEW architecture.
  • To Mark & Harvey, I'd say the JW Marriott & reclad of One Indiana Square is definately a step in the right direction. :)
  • It IS right to expect and demand amazing architecture from projects on the scale of LOS, Scottish Rite, JW-M and the Capitol. It is NOT reasonable to expect groundbreaking architecture from a project on the scale that is proposed here. It IS reasonable, however, to expect something that embraces the urban fabric of the city and provides good baseline architecture. This does both.

    If you built an entire neighborhood like this -- 4 stories tall, to the sidewalk, with retail -- from Fall Creek to 16th to the White River, you'd probably have the most vibrant neighborhood in the entire city. THAT is what this kind of architecture can do.
  • BTW that site is around 4 acres right (Cory)? So 60units +/- to the acre isn't 3Mass density but it's a giant leap in the right direction and far from any suburban projects' density (so far).
  • Keep in mind they'll have 600+ bedrooms because some of the units will have multiple bedrooms. This brings the total number of occupants in the building between 600-800 people! Not too shabby...

    Let's just hope there's more than 10,000 square feet worth of retail along Indiana Ave.
  • Plenty of examples of more creative architecture for student housing can easily be found all over the internet. But why should Indianapolis feel that it should embrace creativity? We just need to keep our vanilla expectations low for this kind of project.
  • I'd like to see a student housing project with creative architecture that wasn't subsidized by a university budget.
  • This could be a very nice addition to the area. Contextually, the “look” doesn’t do anything for me, but the architectural identity of the area has a lot of flexibility. I’m just happy to see some more off-campus apartments in the area. With IU kicking Wishard to the curb soon, this could be a very nice (and quieter) quarter.

    I peeked at the Trinitas website and it’s obvious that they don’t dabble much in Architecture (with a capital A). This project seems to be their entrance into a new chapter, so good for them. I’m a little jealous that they picked an out-of-state architecture firm, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Humphreys is a good design house, good enough that they won’t be putting this project on their website. Also, I sit on a legislative subcommittee for Transit-Oriented Development, and Mark Humphreys is fairly well-known in this arena. I would be interested to know how much TOD theory is incorporated into this project (if any). You would think bike lanes, but have you ever seen a student ride in a bike lane when there are perfectly good sidewalks present?

    One caveat; about 10 years ago, I designed a very similar mixed-use/college apartment project in Trinitas’ home town of West Lafayette. The developer removed most of the sexy details late in the game to save money, and while the finished project is ok (sorry, BLOGojevich, no Applebee’s, but it does have a Scotty’s), much of the potential was lost. I will be interested to see how much of this project’s non-traditional elements (like the balconies and that 2nd story pergola) are left once construction administration begins. It could become very plain very quickly. Overall, though, I guess I’m hopeful.
  • An important point not yet discussed: location.

    True success for this area will involve a commitment by the city, university, and other developers to not let this be an island but as CorrND stated a vibrant neighborhood. I am aware of planning by the city and IUPUI for this area, but expect only commitment will make this successful. Still too many examples of blight on the surrounding blocks.

    Locations along Senate, Capitol, and Illnois just east of campus would make for better student geared appartments. Not sure, but I suspect parcel price tags are preventing this. Too bad because the area is mis-/underused and has more potential for greatness than the northern end of Indiana Ave.
  • Thing is, HarveyF and other self-annointed architecture experts, you can go into almost any major major US metropolitan area and see that similar projects ARE being built. Why keep putting down Indy residents for their vanilla tastes when I can go to Chicago, LA, Dallas, Atlanta and see that we really aren't that far out of the loop....

    Besides, its a FREAKING student housing complex!!! I think someone pointed out already that the cost to build does kinda need to stay in line with what the intended TENANTS are going to be able to afford.... basic concept, right?

    Some of you people are just so damn negative! And when it comes down to it I don't think half of you even know what you speak of.
  • commonsense: Some of us on here ARE architects with our own opinions. And I've worked on several of these types of projects, so YES, I feel like I'm enough of an expert to make a judgement on others' projects.
    The point of these boards is to disagree and discuss. Some of us want the envelope pushed further and want expectations higher, and maybe dream a little in the hopes that it will make our city more attractive. Others want to settle for mediocre and vanilla architecture which neither inspires not adds to the architectural character of the city and the surrounding landscape. I don't expect everyone (or even half of you) to agree with me, but there's something to be said for progress. There is nothing progressive in the current architectural vocabulary in this city, though I would agree that the Mariott is a step (somewhat) in the right direction.
    There is no reason why we can't push the envelope...we just keep getting stifled by people who are find with the norm.

    Expect more from your city.
  • Mark and Harvey: if everything built in a redeveloped area is better than what was there before, the city gets better over time.

    Call it plain vanilla, but when vanilla replaces turd, it's progressive. Just not revolutionary, which is what you seem to be calling for...and which will just never happen in Indiana.
  • Ivo: It's about 5 acres.
  • Now if we can just get that pesky daylight savings time repealed...
  • Yeah, you're right: some people like vanilla. For example, why these sporty new cars with all their trendy airbags and GPS, when a Model T got you there just fine? Who needs these new-fangled MRI scanning machines, those old-fashioned Xrays were plenty good. And this fancy-schmancy trendy music - weren't Gregorian chants entertaining enough for everyone? Walkmans were cool 30 years ago, who needs an iPod?

    My point is obviously this: architecture is part of culture. We want culture to continue to evolve for the better, right? So why do we desire to house culture in faux-representations of the past?
  • I have no issue with the design however knowing what our local architects and designers are going through in this economy, I am very disappointed to hear the architecture design work went to an out of state firm. Regardless of the Dallas based firm's qualifications and how they managed to get the project, there are PLENTY of more than qualified local architects that need the work here in our local economy. And for local univeristy housing????
  • Hey Donna... most of your examples are examples of technological advances, not cultural changes. This categorization could be debated, but it was the technology that pushed the change. As for your one example that is cultural... I do believe there is a crowd out there who does like classical music still, for example, and not the trendy music you refer to. And I think there's still a crowd that likes theater, opera, etc. So, we can play this game with any category you like.

    And if you want to refer to things like that... well, when you walk to any ice cream store/stand/cart... what one flavor are you guaranteed that you will find? Other flavors may come and go, but vanilla will always be there. My point is that not everything changes... some things do stay the same over the years. And there are some people that like that. It's not settling for mediocrity or setting low expectations... it's a personal opinion/preference. And just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't make them someone who settles for mediocrity. Maybe their tastes come out in their preference for music, theater, etc.... and it's just not architecture.
  • It's boring and should be taller.
  • What about all the architecture that doesn't stand the test of time? Too often innovative designs have maintenance issues. I have an appreciation for beautiful buildings, but too often the posts by the professionals seem so esoteric.
  • It is great that we are arguing ideas surrounding “vanilla values” and their appropriateness within mainstream society. What I see unfolding is a real debate about “Neutral” or “Neutrality”. What is being argued is simply what is appropriate when you’ve reduced the conversation to simply just doing “student housing”.

    The question that needs to be argued is what is the value and aesthetic to the student’s creative environment? In a region that offers very little to its students in terms of innovative careers, dynamic environments, and diverse opportunities, it is no wonder why we’re losing more than our brightest and innovative…we’re losing a critical mass that is vital to creating and supporting the type of environments that mirror those real world scenarios. Till then, we can expect simplification as the market base. (on brain drain:

    When we reduce the conversation to simply a design solution for some “kids” that live in a space, that have a window, and a light, and a bed…then it is easy to trivialize architecture and deconstruct it to a “ready made” thought . It becomes easy to justify its off the shelf nature or place neutrality (meaning it could be in Carmel, Iowa, or Texas) within our culture.

    I will be the first to support the idea that neutrality is a condition that confirms what we know already. Neutrality keeps the mind from moving forward and cripples us from researching, comprehending or observing the “real” needs that students have and the incredible price and privilege they pay to live in an environment that no longer exists. So for me…this is a “film set”… it is a re-creation of yesterday…and does not represent the city, its future, and it’s highly educated students, who leave here for places which disseminate the type of environments that Daniel Libeskind notes, “reaches the human heart”.

    If the correct homework was done, the architect/developer should had developed a complex story about how a student’s time at the university is a very complex idea…how their lives are complex…schedules are complex…and students desires are complex. These ideas then should tell a story with dimensions, correct proportions, light, materials, and responsibility. When presented this design on-line yesterday, I took the evening to think about its design. I can honestly observe, assess, and critique that it indeed has a story, a short story, which says, “I have no story at all to tell you” (Libeskind).

    I’m indifferent as to what the design shows and to whom it talking to on the street. I know that when I walk past it, I will not invite it to be friends with me. We simply share different values and I enjoy stories with beginnings, middle, and ends. This one for me is an open book, and while the front cover is nostalgic and hand rendered, I know I enjoy stories that engage with me. That tell me who I am, what I may value, and where we are collectively at.

    I will not listen to its story because its story lives somewhere in Carmel, in a studio in Hollywood, buggies and horses, knickers, cobblestone streets, powdered wigs, and romantic peccadillo’s.

    We’ve all come to admire architecture for its ability to offer the unexpected story…after all the city lives best in the future, a story many of us could use some reading up on.


    (these views and opinions do not reflect the position of our firm or its leadership)
  • Indy Guy I'll grant your technological/cultural distinction, though we could quibble over why technological advances are considered worthy of influencing style in cars but not buildings. The difference in buildings - construction - is that traditional buildings only LOOK traditional - they are generally built using crappy contemporary construction techniques totally divorced from the solid and knowledgeable craftsmanship that made actual old buildings stand the test of time. Traditional building has certainly NOT stayed the same over the years - but the developers of West Clay depend on you being fooled into thinking it has (leaving aside the potentially successful urban planning aspect of West Clay lest we stray too too far afield).

    The argument that contemporary architecture tends to leak/require more maintenance etc. is utterly false in the face of Dryvit (as just one example): it's easily molded to look like generic history but we all know it's going to fail in a very few years. Whereupon it will end up in a landfill.

    Great post, Wil. The brain drain aspect is a HUGE problem and aspect of this project. I'd like to question: how many people posting on this blog right now are in their late teens/early 20s, and what do YOU think of this project?
  • To Donna,

    I'm 20 years old a freshman in college and a HUGE fan of Indy. Personally, I think that this building is fine for the most part. Sure, it could be more contemporary or awe-inspiring but overall I think it is solid infill. Especially, since it is currently in a rather blighted area near downtown. What we need to do is embrace people willing to develop in these areas and not shut them down. Besides, they're not asking for tax-incentives and at least the desigin looks like they put some time into it.

    Now let's just hope the retail along Indiana Avenue is pretty solid! Thank you.
  • *design
  • What may seem to be revolutionary or pushing the envelope architecturally today may look like hideous crap 30-40 years from now.
  • Indy Rock...The fact that you said, building is fine for the most part is exactly the sentiment I like to exploit.

    One day, I imagine the buildings eulogy will read as follows:

    I was concieved as a building...not architecture. There is a difference.
    I was fine for the most part, but could have been better, infact more awe-inspiring and at the very least more contemporary, but here I am wearing the same suite, but considerably more layers since1900...I was created as a knock off...cause everyone was to intimidated to allow me to be my own unique architecture.

    I'm exist to help out an area that most perceive is in the dumps and has some challenges. My claim to fame is that I put some workers to work, help keep some architects busy, winked at a few engineers, and caused a great deal of problems for the environment. Oh...i also didn't challenge local developers to want more, but everyone made fat cash and we all are better for it.

    As a building...this is how i behave and this was my contribution. I just sit on valuable land and all my friends look like me...act like like me. We have the same group of friends downtown and uptown. I can say in all honesty that all of my other building friends also relish in the same thirst for the qualitative.

    No on interesting ever lived near us, although chain restaurants loved my rent prices and stayed for years. I can not remember ever inviting other interesting forms of architecture to join me here (except the Madam Walker, who is the orginal real thing and I'm ashamed for trying to copy her) because I was led to believe that a world of homogeny and old world charm was loaded with distinction and privledge. I regret it all.

    I am just a one cared enough to encourage me to more or to be my own architecture because just wanting to put a hole in the ground and make people live inside me seemed like an okay idea at the time. I had a lot of life in front of me...I made no difference at all. I was just a building.

    RIP The Building
    2010 - 2020
  • The perfect should not be enemy of the good.

    Sometimes a well worn pair of jeans is all you need -- I accept this building as perfectly suited to its time, place and purpose. And I also hope for lots of inspiring architecture in Indy's future.
  • Interesting view, but what you're struggling to understand is that this building is a huge step forward for what is already there. If this structure were being built in the mile-square it would be a bit different. We can't have perfection all the time, we can only strive for it. But when we end up objectifying the superficial and superfluous of buildings we lose sight of what the true purpose of a structure is. It is to serve the area and community by providing affordable apartments or retail or whatever.

    I for one love great architecture but I also realize that without massive subsidies that is often times unattainable, especially in this economic climate. What we should be thankful for is something is getting built here. And if somebody decides to build a building across the street in a few years that building should be of better quality and design. But you can't go from ground zero to the sky being the limit in one instance. Good things take time. And I think that this student housing building is a definate good first step.
  • I agree. It's good enough. What the heck. It's only student housing.

    If folks knew how high rent was in places like this, they'd expect a little more. Some time check out how much it costs for kids in the new student housing apartments at Butler. Ouch.

    Why Hoosiers push the idea of creativity like they do for no good reason is beyond me. All I know is that in many places in the midwest are leaving us behind because they understand the value of the arts, etc. Here, as long at the Monster Truck show sell out, all is is well.

    I wonder what the weather is like in Austin this time of year.

    BTW, Wil has got is figured out. Wow.
  • I need to better proofread... but you get the idea.
  • Salute, Mr. Marquez. Your posts are extremely well stated, and quite moving. The story line of the building really mirrors what is wrong with our society today in general. Quick fixes, it's ok, let's git 'er done, etc. Let's make the money and move on. And where, oh where do the examples come from? Why teachers, bankers, politicians, professionals. Who would have thought? They ain't like they used to be!

    Until we realize that we have to do our best at everything as individuals and as a society, reinstate some class in how we dress and act, quit relying upon government, cancel the dependency upon Uncle Sam, stop allowing lawyers to run up the price tag on all aspects of life, and spend enough time reading and learning throughout our lives instead of wanting to constantly be entertained, well as a society - we'll be through in a few short years.

    Oh and did I mention throw all the rascals out of Washington?

    We deserve where we are because we have accepted mediocrity in leadership, in schools, in government, in business, in finance, in the way we appear and act. And in the buildings we build.

    Enough of where we are. Let's use this forum and others as a means to be wiser. We should demand and expect more from those in positions of influence whether it comes to building design, clothing design, teaching our children, or federal government meddling in public schools.

    We're better than what we've been and accepted. It's high time to show it!
  • I agree with CorrND: I'm not in favor of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    Every dorm can't be Hill House. Even in Columbus, Indiana not every school looks like McDowell, Lincoln, or Richards, nor every fire station like #4, nor every church like First Christian and North Christian, nor every house like the Miller house. Every museum can't be a Guggenheim (though Gehry is certainly trying).

    But that doesn't mean we shouldn't build houses, dorms, schools, fire stations, churches, and museums.

    Sometimes a house is just a house, and an apartment just an apartment. There are people in the world concerned about form and function more than stories and art (the difference between an engineer and an architect?) deny that is folly.

    Not everyone has the heart or soul of an artist.
  • HarveyF. I find it hard to take you seriously with comments like #37... which places in the midwest, exactly, are leaving us behind because we don't understand the value of the arts? And what does that have to do with the architecture of this building.

    Not every BUILDING has to be great ARCHITECTURE. Just as not all great ARCHITECTURE necessarily makes a great BUILDING.

    And to touch once more on your comparison of our football stadium to a grocery store, you DO realize that it was honored as THE sports facility of the year for 2009 by Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal, right? And that it also won a Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for its engineering? Maybe you missed that in your rush to judge things by the cover....
  • You put it perfectly thundermutt! Thank you.
  • HarveyF--

    Thou dost protest too much, and you had me persuaded until the sneering post in #37. You do yourself no favors by assuming everyone is a slack-jawed yokel; the vigorous debate on this thread proves otherwise. But if you want to start an architectural review committee for Indy, I know that I (and maybe some of the other hicks around here) would be happy to jump on board to support you. Changing project of this scale, however (and in an area this is clearly the butt side of downtown), is probably a pipe dream. I agree that you'll have to point out these other marvelous cities with visionary architecture. I was in Austin a few years ago and saw plenty of humdrum infill--the best that could be said is that it was generally urban oriented.

    Okay, I've thought of a place with visionary designs for its student housing: Cambridge, MA, where MIT consistently pushes the envelope on its buildings. (Conversely, Harvard is more conservative than the stuff we're seeing on this thread.) Simmons Hall ( is undeniably eye-catching, and it since it sits across desolate, windswept parking lots and athletic fields, it almost makes you forget that MIT remains one of the most abominably master-planned campuses in the country. 80% of the campus looks like service entrances for semi-trailers. You always feel like you're on the back side of campus.

    Another visionary building that hopes to add spice to MIT's dreary campus is the Stata Center (, which hosts classes and labs and is designed by the perennially over-loved Frank Gehry. The result? A building that in just five years has such significant leaks and water intrusion that the university is suing Gehry to the tune of $200 million. These meretricious vanity projects haven't always worked to MIT's benefit.

    I'm not sure we always have to be careful what we wish for, but I think we do have to remember that the developer has to know its market, while we can wax poetic about innovative design all we want. Moderation is in order.
  • The engineering of LOS is incredible. Who would deny that? Too bad the roof in an open position will rarely be used. Here are some photos that are interesting regarding the grocery store thing.

    Indianapolis' priority is not the arts. Ruschman gallery is closing, the Symphony needs serious fund raising and grants to stay in business, etc. ad infinitum. Artists leave Indianapolis at alarming rates as the public does not support them. Settling for run of the mill architecture in a city of this size is just another indicator that the creative class has left, is leaving or has given up and lost interest. We have an incredible musem system in this city and they work very hard at getting people interested in the arts. But to be interested in the arts one must get past the idea that vanilla is good enough. I love a good tractor pull as anybody, but we need to raise the bar if we are going to compete in the new economy. IMHO, of course.

    Sorry about the sneering. I realize that all Indianapolis residents are not a bunch of yokels. I know plenty that are not. But the Hoosier mentality is pervasive, an incredible number of people in Indianapolis do not see the value in art and it drives me crazy.
  • The engineering of LOS is incredible. Who would deny that? Too bad the roof in an open position will rarely be used. I tried to post some links to photos that make my point about LOS and the grocery store thing but for some reason had no luck getting the post published.

    ndianapolis' priority is not the arts, it is professional sports. Ruschman gallery is closing, the Symphony needs serious fund raising and grants to stay in business, etc. ad infinitum. Artists leave Indianapolis at alarming rates as the public does not support them. Settling for run of the mill architecture in a city of this size make no sense, to me anyhow. We have an incredible musem system in this city and they work very hard at getting people interested in the arts. But to be interested in the arts one must get past the idea that vanilla is good enough. I love a good tractor pull as anybody, but we need to raise the bar if we are going to compete in the new economy. IMHO, of course.

    Sorry about the sneering. I realize that all Indianapolis residents are not a bunch of yokels. I know plenty that are not. But the Hoosier mentality is pervasive and an incredible number of people in Indianapolis do not see the value in art and it drives me crazy.
  • I love a good tractor pull as anybody there you go being condescending again. I for one don't mind the design, but I've never ever been to a tractor pull or drag race. Fancy that!
  • Also, I am a strong supporter of Be Indypendent, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful as well as the Cultural Trail initiative. Guess that's not progressive enough is it?
  • Harvey, go ahead. Contemplate the weather in Austin this time of year. They don't like monster truck shows or football. The Texan mentality is all about the value in art.
  • Not being condescending at all. I really do enjoy going to a tractor pull or two every year. I have relatives that are dairy farmers. I love the State Fair. Monster Truck rallies, not so much. I'm a born and bred Hoosier. Please don't take all of this so personally. If you aren't part of the problem and are a part of the solution that's fabulous. Austin is a city that embraces many facets of culture, not just football. The art and music scene is world class. BTW, great architecture doesn't always result in leaks and poor construction.
  • Let's just hope it gets built and no one burns it down.
  • When I.U.P.U.I. commands the quality of student that MIT matriculates, THEN the local university can command fancy student housing. It's not the other way around. I.U.P.U.I. has a reputation of being affordable, which is not true of Butler.

    At the end of the day, it's a dorm. Dorms have the reputation of being too noisy. Students can go to to other buildings on campus for inspiration. The dorm is a place to shower, sleep, and stow one's stuff.

    And just yesterday, I heard about a Purdue grad, chemical engineer, who accepted a job in the Midwest. He had interned near San Francisco last summer and decided it was too expensive. He preferred the Midwest.
  • I think the building is awful. But clearly the people on this post who have no actual interest in art or architecture think its fine. Have fun living in stupid hideous buildings, so long as they're built to the street. High standard indeed.
  • I do find it interesting that none of the critical comments here have referenced specific details. In fact, negative comments regarding architecture are rarely specific. If many of you think the Hoosier architectural palate is undeveloped -- and that is certainly a dominant theme running through this thread -- a little education would probably go a long way.

    Though I like to think I can recognize great architecture -- this project is clearly not great -- I freely admit to being a novice. I'm an engineer/scientist by trade, so function often trumps everything.

    So: what's wrong with this design?
  • Some people on this board are truly ignorant. I know myself and others on here have vested interest in art and architecture yet we still like this building. That must make us uncultured and not artsy enough eh?
  • In response to Cory

    Things I don't like about this design (written by an architect):

    1) The design is excessively rectalinear, with no engaging or figural elements.
    2) Main entrance? As the building is entirely based on one continuous system of rectalinear voids and extrusions with no figural entrance, it's impossible to tell WHERE the user goes.
    3) Student housing + Private balconies = BAD idea. Hint: Don't walk on the street under those things at 1am on any given Saturday/Sunday morning. You might be hit by errant projectile vomit...or maybe even errant human beings.
    4) Materials: So, face brick, EFS (likely), and/or clapboard siding? about the Carmel palate. It's a standard set of material finishes...nothing special. And BELIEVE me, I'm not a believer in metalic finishes (Ghery-ish garbage). I just want some...variety.
    5) The corner. I'm not sure how anyone could be impressed by the corner rendering shown, design-wise. Sure, I'll give props to whoever rendered it. However, when you look at it, do you REALLY think Indianapolis, or city/downtown, or do you think Carmel/Suburbia? It's blocky, boring, and uninspiring. Sure, it IS student housing, but if you gave me time (and I really didn't mind wasting my time t educate people), I could find you dozens of examples of student housing done over the last 10 years that were both well-designed and affordable. I guess you'll just have to trust me...or drive up to Ball State/Purdue/ND/Illinois/Cincinnati/etc.

    That's all I have right now. Just saw that this was getting a lot more feedback, so I thought I'd respond.

    One thing I'd like to point out: Whatever happens with this project, it will be 10 times better than what's there now, and will certainly be a positive addition to the area. I believe very strongly that IUPUI is an essential asset to the downtown.
  • Has anyone here even been to that side of Fall Creek? It is a dump. This project is TOO nice for that area. It'll be the guy in the tuxedo on Carb Day. Everything around is warehouses, empty lots, chain link fences and the weeds that were once Victory Field. Maybe, maybe in 40 years the neighborhood will have passed this project by and made it look tired and worn. Hope so, but doubtful.
  • Is this student housing by IUPUI or housing that IUPUI students will likely live in? There is a difference.
  • Yeah no kidding...I used to work near this area. It is a MESS. A bunch of old delapidated homes, temporary gravel lots for the hospital and IUPUI, old offices for IUPUI, abandoned warehouses. Yet everyone on here is whining b/c the architecture doesn't quite suite their style. I'd personally be glad there is development going on and would hope that this begins to turn this area around. The level of complaining I see on here is a bit obssessive and ridiculous. If this area is thriving in 20 years that is a SUCCESS, not a few architectural details.
  • Babbage: I think you're missing the point. I think we'd all agree that this will be a substantial addition to the area, regardless of the architecture itself. However, the debate here is one much larger than just this project. Many of us see a negative trend going on in this city regarding its architecture, and would like to comment on that. BY ITSELF, this project is in no way bad, but considering its location and its proximity to downtown, many of us feel that its just another example of this poor trend of mediocre architecture.

    However, regardless of whatever anyone says, this project will be a step in the right direction, which is exactly what that area desperately needs.
  • 14th and Montcalm, no matter how much DMD and Indianapolis Downtown might wish it, is NOT downtown. Yes, it's in the Regional Center area, and yes, it's in Center Township. But until a lot of surface parking lots in the NW quadrant of downtown and IUPUI disappear, this is pretty far from anything we'd consider downtown. As a midtown building, this is okay. As others have said, in 40 years when real downtown development gets out this far, then the naysayers will have a case against this building.

    But as I've said repeatedly: if this is an improvement over what is there now, it is a net gain for the city. Then the next building across the street can be even better, and so on. Progress in urban design is incremental and progressive...not revolutionary.

    High jumpers and pole vaulters don't raise the bar (the origin of that phrase) a foot or two at a time. They raise it in small increments.
  • Sorry I am so late to the party.

    Let us give the developer some credit. This project is a big step up in terms of urban design from what is usually proposed locally. We are now treated to something that at least makes an attempt to respect the rules of urbanism.

    However, this notion that it is replacing a vacant lot and thus is better than what was there before; as well as the idea that it is good enough are the two notions I have been fighting against for the last 10-15 years.

    I respect that those are legitimate value choices and that they in fact perfectly embody the values of the community at large. I don't think there is anything evil or wrong with them.

    But I believe they are the values that hold the city back. There are many great things about being a Hoosier, a title I am proud to claim. The Midwest culture has a lot of goodness to it. But also a lot of problems and things that have brought its communities into terrible situations.

    I was thinking recently on what the most destructive aspect of Midwestern culture is. I have come to the conclusion that it is the active championing and defense of mediocrity as the preferred outcome. I think this discussion provides the perfect illustration. It isn't just that some think the building is fine. Some of them also criticize anyone who dares to ask for better. It is outright active discouragement of the pursuit of excellence that I find so troubling.

    My father was berated by his father as an idiot when he decided to go to college. I was just chatting with a high school friend with a master's degree about how he had been told by the guidance counselor that nobody from such a small school could possibly make in college and that he should consider being a welder instead.

    Indiana demands of its people that they surrender ambition and aspiration. That, more than anything, is why it cannot attract or retain people who have a thirst for more than the status quo.

    This design might indeed be the best we can hope for given all the tradeoffs. But we should have a rich awareness of the choices we are making, and the implications for where they are taking us as a city and state.
  • Aaron, if we just started with making our public buildings good designs, then we'd be demanding more.

    When Indianapolis throws up a corporate office park building behind a classic library, how can the planning and zoning folks ask for anything better and keep a straight face and some sense of integrity?

    I think you're applying the do your best standard in the wrong place here. That should start with civic architecture, or projects with significant government investment: government offices, the Canal, Cultural Trail, libraries, museums, airport, stadia, Convention Center, JW Marriott. And the record there is mixed; most of those recent structures fit in the nothing special/good enough category.

    Until we hold the public entities' feet to the fire, there is absolutely no reason to expect better of a private developer.
  • Thunder, I agree with you completely that the public sector needs to walk the talk. And I think there has been some progress as with the airport, which is a first class design.

    I'm not even saying that we need to make everything Taj Mahal grade, but we at least need to have the discussion about what we can afford and demand within the context of the world we are in, what the competition is doing, and what perfection might in fact look like.
  • Finally, the Urbanophile rides in to save the day, or at least neatly summarize Indy's biggest problem.

    I haven't heard any mention of where the 650 students' cars will park. I would think that would be a huge factor in the overall success of this project as an urban development, as well as the prospects for creating a vibrant community along this portion of Indiana Avenue.
  • Perhaps I'm slow and everybody else has already realized this, but I'm pretty sure the sketch rendering is showing the intersection of 14th and Milburn. The top portion of the detailed rendering lines up with the right facade of the sketch rendering. All that nose in parking we're seeing to the left on the sketch would then be Milburn, not Indiana.

    The bottom portion of the detailed rendering is probably showing Indiana.
  • Well, it's built to the street and it's not your typical apartment complex. I honestly think the way most of the buildings, if you've been to this area, are very suburban with large green spaces around the properties. If they really wanted to fit in with their surroundings, the developer would've proposed another small suburban apartment complex with wasted space, typical of what you'd see around 465.

    Hopefully this will kick off a lot of higher density development. Maybe they'll get some more commercial space or school office space north of of fall creek. If you look at the area on Google Maps, there is VERY LITTLE development in this general area north of campus. It works so well b/c there are trails by the creek and a bridge to cross over to IUPUI. The city could also redo Blocks Park and make it a more inviting area for students to hang out and study. I think this is incredible news, when I was driving through that area I didn't think development would possibly cross over Fall Creek so soon.
  • Idyllic, I've seen a site plan as filed for RC approval. There is an outlot northwest across Montcalm that will remain surface parking. There are also the aforementioned nose-in spaces along Milburn, parallel spaces along Montcalm, and interior courtyard parking.

    New Urbanist design = hide the parking inside or out back. :)
  • This building is going to be one in a series of more buildings soon to come for IUPUI housing. It sets a tone that vaguely historicist clunkers are a huge upgrade. Also, people keep mentioning this is student housing. Student housing is a gold-mine for developers. Why don't you check out the lease rates.
  • I'll close with this, as I will keep my comments about the historicist clunker and its design flaws and inaccurate historic proportions to myself.

    What I will say is that there is a student design competion sponsored by creative young developers with ideas on how to grow Greece in a new way.

    Imagine that! The first line of the competition brief reads:

    OLIAROS, a young property development company, is calling architects up to 35 years old to submit proposals for the construction of a student housing unit in Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio (KM), an area in the historic centre of Athens, Greece.

    Now...we can deconstruct all the reasons why an historic Athens (ORIGINAL) can do it...and why (INAUTHENTIC) Indianapolis can not...

    Their is a disconnect....If a place with a deeper history than Indy can do it...what is the problem? Critical Regionalism has us strung up, bottom line.

    A2S04 will be doing the competiton...we'll consider the global nature of student, and why that tiny detail is important for all universities and cities to consider when openly recruiting international students to visit and contribute to our international city.
  • Really?
    After reviewing these comments, it is apparent that many of these people are missing the point of this project. People seem to be looking past the fact that this developer is attempting to keep costs reasonable in order to provide quality student housing at affordable rental rates. I've done extensive research on the Indianapolis rental market and know that many of the places IUPUI students are staying downtown offer apartments of inferior quality with fewer amenities at much higher rates. It seems to me that many of the artsy-fartsy type are quick to judge and do not see the value in providing college students with an affordable and safe environment to live so close to the IUPUI campus. I would love to hear how a property with marble floors, gold plumbing fixtures, and elaborate fountains of Greek gods would go over with students and their parents. And when did brick go out of style? Maybe it was shortly after Lucus Oil Stadium was built. I'm sure in 40-50 years we'll be glad the developer didn't attempt to do something too trendy.

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