More renderings of proposed $83M Canal apartment tower

December 13, 2011
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Indianapolis Canal TowerIBJ's print and online subscribers got an early look this weekend at plans for a 26-story apartment tower along downtown's Central Canal. Indianapolis Canal TowerThe $83 million proposal from Valparaiso-based Investment Property Advisors calls for 616 bedrooms in 485 apartment units, atop a six-level parking garage (partly below grade) with 5,600 square feet of canal-level commercial space including two small spots for restaurants or retail. It would be built on two adjoining parcels along Ninth Street between Senate Avenue and the canal. The tower as proposed would become the city’s ninth-tallest building, just after the new JW Marriott, which has 34 stories, and the City-County Building, which has 28 stories. The full story is here.

You can click on either of the renderings above for larger versions. If you want a closer look, check out these PDFs: Southeast Tower Perspective; Southwest Tower Perspective; and Top of Tower Perspective. The architect is Ratio.

  • Concerned
    The aesthetics of this building do not appear to add much to the area. The design doesn't fit in with existing structures and the facade isn't appealing to me personally. I would rather see either a more modern interpretation that mirrored the JW motif or a more classical facade that mirrored the other buildings along the canal.
  • Brutal!
    Yikes...this isn't Ratio kind of work! highly developer driven evidentally...hope it doesn't get built like this...I understand schematic ideas, but geez!
  • Pretty Ugly
    The idea to model it after the JW is a bad one...but the idea to build it like it looks in these renderings is worse. The JW doesn't match the city at all, it belongs in vegas. This building doesn't match the canal at all, and belongs....somewhere else. Hopefully this isn't the final drawing.
  • Same
    I see the traditional Ratio building 'hat' is represented once again...
  • Wrong scale
    I am not an expert in design or urban planning, so I won't attempt to speak to the particulars of the design other than from a layman's perspective it appears drab and overwhelming for the location. I am more concerned about the scale and heighth of the project as I am hopeful the design of a smaller structure will improve over time.

    The idea of a huge dorm tower with over six hundred under grad students along the canal doesn't make sense to me. We have spent decades making the canal into a linear park of sorts and while some of the development has been too suburban in design, this still seems out of scale for the surrounding area. Students undoubtedly bring a needed sense of vitality and diversity to the surrounding neighborhoods, but I don't necessarily want to see a massive dorm tower alongside our canal. I believe the 1201 Indiana Avenue and Avenue apartment buildings are scaled more appropriately. From my perspective, more input needs to be gathered from those around the proposed structure regarding location, scale and design.
  • Another view
    While not speaking directly to the building itself, I think that adding the flock of students to the canal would be a worndurful thing. The store fronts are empty and the steps/patio areas along the canal are crumbling. Breathing life into the area with 600+ people having direct access tothe canel may be a good thing.
  • Cheap, ugly and oversized
    This is one hideous, oversized and cheaply detailed tower. The canal is an Indy jewel -- don't spoil it by allowing such a monstrosity to be built. And the dark hulking low-rise portion along the water is just awful -- did Ratio really get paid for this shoddy work? I've got no problem with a dense student housing development, it's this particular rendition that will cause people to ask what idiots designed, developed and most importantly, approved, this.
  • good density, terrible design
    my comment title sums up my opinion. I think the density (if truly finacially feasible) is a great thing for this corridor. Need more bodies if we want to see this area alive with eateries, shops, etc.

    The design, however, leaves me greatly wanting!

    My guess: typical developer tactic to show a terrible design so that later anything (and I mean anything)else submitted will be approved.
  • Not good
    I agree with many of the other comments - this building simply does not belong in/on this space. It is just too overwhelming for the Canal location, and too suburban-looking too. Density is nice but not that building. Ratio can do better than this. Please don't approve it.
  • Homage to Riley Towers?
    As I look at these sketch-up renderings I wonder if it was a charette to see a western nod to the eastern Riley Towers and 3-Mass combined. I hope the tower is clad in something nicer than monolithic EIFS atop a brick base, we don't need another building to be embarrassed about. I also don't understand why set the tower back on the north and west sides, but 26 tall stories of brutal inhuman scale on the south and east faces. With windows illustrated down to the ground level, they aren't planning to place another building adjacent to this structure. Love the idea of student housing on the canal, just hope one of the last infill sites to be developed along the canal is given the proper urban pedestrian treatment.
  • Keystone Towers
    The base is obviously a brand new monstrosity, but isn't the vertical portion just the old Keystone Tower?
  • More Windows & Brick
    I believe the tower should have more windows and be brick similar to many of the other buildings along the canal. Would be much more classy than what is depicted and much more appreciated by the residents.

    I really hope that 600+ students get to call the canal home during their stay at IUPUI via a new building located there. That would really vitalize the area and be a good use of the space.
  • 60's HUD Project
    The building reminds me of the numerous low-income apartment buildings that were located in major cities around the country in the 60's. Many of these structures have been demolished. It would be better two smaller buildings or locate something this size in the core of downtown. It would fit in alot better with the scale. The canal definitely needs more people but this design without modifications is not the answer. The building looks dated already.
  • love the density
    I love the density, it could do wonders for the Canal.

    I don't think the design is terrible, but it could be better. I am most disappointed with the canal level space. I would prefer if it had more than two small retail spaces.
  • Yech!
    Designed by Ratio's Soviet branch...Gulag Arkitekskya
  • underachieving
    Boy, this design screams of architectural underachievement. It's not nice looking at all and will be a big disappointment if it gets approved as is. As a canal resident, I am personally against something so tall and ugly. I'd have no problem with something aesthtically pleasing and of a smaller scale.
  • Come On
    Come on people, these tall urban structures that have a repeating floor plan with balconies andlarge blank walls up and down the side of the building is common in large residential towers in San Diego, Jacksonville, Orlando, and many more. You want to attract the people in a decent price range (and no, not just students will rent here, I would given the opportunity and I'm 32). If you want to attract at a decent price range, you can't add costs that will cause the financial formula to skyrocket. All glass? All Brick? more windows, curved architecture - that will all add to the final cost.

    I think the height is needed and set back enough from the canal that when you look up at the base you really won't see it because of the ugly base they have designed. They need to improve the base.
  • Parking on the Canal?
    Do I interpret the renderings correctly? Do they really propose to have the parking garage face the canal? I am all for density and support such a huge building in principal. But this design definitively has to be changed.
  • Not a great role model
    I'm not sure we should aspire to Orlando, Jacksonville, or San Diego's residential towers. They all have really bad towers... really bad. That said, I agree with other that having density here would do wonders.
  • Typical
    They want to be next to the canal, but have no interest in interacting with it. There is a serious need for non-residential activity on the canal. It could easily become a hot scene for a walkable community with lots of small shops (like Mass Ave, but a younger demographic and less bars than Broad Ripple) This is something not really met in Indianapolis and could yield lots of opportunities. Having only two spaces focusing on the canal is ridiculous. Sacrifice some more parking spaces and up the desirability of life in your own building. Also, this building doesn't look like it was designed for the site context or Indianapolis in general. Definitely a plain and simple profitability design.
    • Oh, no kidding??
      Another fine example of boring Indiana architecture. Some things never change...
    • Awful...
      Drab, without soul, plain, cheap, boring, and forgettable. Totally unexpected from Ratio. Truly reminiscent of the now demolished low-income towers along the highway coming into Chicago. For this kind of expense we've GOT to do better.
    • Awful...
      Drab, without soul, plain, cheap, boring, and forgettable. Totally unexpected from Ratio. Truly reminiscent of the now demolished low-income towers along the highway coming into Chicago. For this kind of expense we've GOT to do better.
    • Hey Look!
      It's the Courtyard by Marriott and SpringHill Suites..the two hotels behind the JW...well done...Indy, start being more modern and stop with the EIFS..seriously, smaller cities like Charlotte and K.C. have better quality.
    • what's up with the current canal architecture, people?
      The problem with the tower is twofold: the first floor commercial space is out of scale and the tower is just a boring facade. BUT THAT'S IT! The tower is'nt great but it's not bad because of the density. What would be HORRIBLE is trying to rerplicate this overly romantic curved, psuedo classic, overly bricked, suburban crap you see on the canal right now, which may be 'scaled to humans' but not in a good way. this boring, overly 'nice institutional-corporate', low density which currently exists is what the canal needs no more of! Bring on the towers for students so HIGHER DENSITY can bring some life to this boring strip for tourists or Carmelites. The tower design needs to be guided with a utilitarian spirit with maybe a better MIX of cheaper, yet more interesting materials...that's it! Let Ratio do their infamous hat (which I personally like it it makes sense functionally) but just add some diverse colors or something to make the tower stand out. 1) JW is Vegas, 2) IU Health buildings are boring institutional, 3) existing 3 story canal residential COMPLETELY SUBURBAN. BRING SOME SIMPLE URBAN ARCHITECTURE TO INDY...ANYBODY!!! It's the only hope to attract a more diverse demographic for a livable downtown. So, I disagree with 98% of the above posts who just can't handle high denstiy development in favor of the continued suburban crap that keeps Indy behind 50 years.
    • Urban Ugly
      No way does this look like a high rise in San Diego. Also agree after just return from NYC that this looks like a public housing building.

      While it has more interest than the JW, both look like they belong in the 1960's in Cleveland.
      Having said that the city will approve this
      with little if any change.
      • The trouble is...
        it still looks like cheap, pre-fab student housing. If they DO expect a high percentage of students, then even some of the more recent construction at IU or Ball State is far superior. At BSU it could be due to their architecture school. Come on, with a building this tall let's make it stand out rather than be just a vertical box with windows.
      • Two Words ...
        Student Ghetto.

        If this is all the vision a developer can aspire to construct in Indianapolis then we don't need their participation. Check out their website at where you'll see heinous low-end housing that looks frightening.

        The monotonous punched window pattern (if it can be called a pattern), tack-on detail and lack of imagination are pathetic. This design is a standard issue, three story suburban apartment block extruded 260 feet toward the sky.

        A previous commenter is correct: we shouldn't aspire to be Jacksonville or any other city that has similar crap.
      • Dorms
        There have been several posts speaking to the density of the project and how those who live near the canal should be thrilled by the amount of people and activity it will bring. Some have suggested that it won't just be for students, but other downtown workers as well. Please note the initial story indicates this property will likely be leased by bedroom, not by unit. This is a 26 story undergrad dorm tower being set right on top of what has been developed as a linear park. We can all write about how we want there to be more retail on the canal, but it simply was not developed to be the next Mass Avenue and putting this huge structure on the canal won't make it as such. There is no interaction with the canal suggested in this design.

        I have no problem with the density of the proposal, but rather with the scale and design of the building. Six hundred residents living along the canal would be great and I don't care if a large portion of them are students, but that doesn't mean I want to see an uninspiringly designed dormitory built there. Many of those posting here I am sure either attended or visited college campuses with dorm towers and can attest to there lack of aesthetic qualities. Think about some of the IU dorm towers and whether you would want such imposing, impersonal structures built along the canal. This does not appear to be a building focused on quality design or living, but rather one to get as many students in one building as possible. I support urban design with high density, but it needs to be responsible and I don't believe this fits the bill.
      • OMG....
        I did look at the website - their projects are terrible. Frankly the designs they've used look even worse than the misconceived building on Capitol Avenue that was red-tagged by the city. If you haven't visited the sure to.
      • Less Bars??!
        are you kidding? you expect less bars than Broad Ripple when the target market is college students? What are you thinking? Broad Ripple has over 60 liquor licenses and only recently has a resident-based group come into existence to fight some of the commercial impacts.

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      1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

      2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

      3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

      4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

      5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.