CORRECTED: Roche gets city’s OK to project messages on side of north-side HQ building

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In a statement to IBJ, Roche said it hopes to display “supportive and inspiring messages” visible from I-69 as part of a new corporate initiative. (Image courtesy of the city of Indianapolis)

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Roche’s request needed approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission and City-County Council. It has been corrected to reflect that only the approval granted on April 19 by the Board of Zoning Appeals was necessary. You can see other corrections here.

Medical manufacturer Roche Diagnostics Operations Inc. has received city approval to display public health messages on the side of a building in its North American headquarters campus along Interstate 69 in Indianapolis.

The testing and medical instruments maker had asked the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals to allow two digital projection signs on the western facade of Building E, the campus’s northernmost structure at 9115 Hague Road.

Its proposal called for two 1,406-square-foot signs that would extend to 38 feet above the building’s grade, while leaving visible the company’s blue wall sign on the southern portion of the facade.

The company sought a variance of development standards from the BZA because the city’s current zoning regulations do not account for digital projection technology when addressing non-commercial signage. The BZA approved Roche’s request on April 19.

The projections, which would not have an audio component, are expected to be used for public interest purposes rather than to promote the company’s products. An example included in filings with the city shows messages promoting masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a brief statement to IBJ, Roche said it hopes to display “supportive and inspiring messages” as part of a new corporate initiative. It did not include a schedule in city filings for rolling out the program.

The building on which Roche plans to project the images is about 130 feet from the nearest edge of Hague Road and about 200 feet from the closest edge of I-69. The messages would be easily visible from the highway, and from west of the property along 96th Street.

Roche agreed to several commitments for the use of the projections as part of its effort to win support from the city. Among them, the company said all images displayed on the side of the building would be static in nature and run for at least 10 seconds at a time. It also said it would not use any identifying corporate logos or slide transitions in the projections.

It also agreed to include safeguards to prevent glare or a brightness level that could be distracting.

Based in Switzerland, Roche has maintained local operations along Hague Road since the mid 1960s. The 159-acre campus sells and services machines and software to help physicians, hospitals and laboratories throughout the United States and Canada analyze data and diagnose patients.

In 2012, Roche began a $300 million renovation to the sprawling property. The updates included five new buildings, all of which run entirely on renewable energy. The newest buildings on the campus opened in 2016.

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19 thoughts on “CORRECTED: Roche gets city’s OK to project messages on side of north-side HQ building

  1. This is a bad idea. That area of I-69 is going to be under heavy construction for the next couple years while they reconfigure the entire 69/465 interchange. It’s already pretty intense going into or coming out of the interchange. The last thing they need is a giant screen distracting drivers.

  2. “would be used for non-commercial and public interest purposes rather than to promote the company’s products”. Because drawing attention to their building and logo, with messages that are related to their field of business, is in no way shape or form promoting the company’s products. What a joke.

  3. Encouraging masking, not even good science. Promote yourselves before polical ideas, oh yeah the Dems still want to control, so they need to appease the metro libs.

  4. The comments just shows why companies rather go to more exciting progressive cities like Vegas, Miami, Atlanta, even Nashville Tn is more open to these type of radical ideas. Hoosiers mindset is still stuck in the 80’s while our peer cities are moving towards what their respective cities will look like in the near future.

    1. That’s right little buddy. But those are the olden days …things have actually changed! So this is gonna be the new norm going forward! Get ready!

    2. Agreed, too many Hoosiers are closed off and not open minded. Plenty of other companies have fancy lights and signs over there let Roche have theirs as well without judgment.

  5. Bad idea. Poor level of taste and dangerous distraction for drivers on I-69. Apparently not enough accidents along that stretch of road already.

    1. Have to agree with the others on safety in that area. Can we please wait until after reconstruction of I69-I465 interchange? Entering I69S from 96th street and having to jump all the way left to get on 37S is bad enough without people being distracted by this.

  6. Great idea. Please do it asap.

    Why the counterproductive commentary, Was the idea to do this made by a republican or democrat or libertarian. This sophomoric response sadly reflect on the author ability to recognize that each individual has the right to vote as they see fit. And, shockingly, no single party or individual has all the right answers. Perhaps only liberal (whatever that may mean) drivers will look at the images and responsible conservative (definition please) drivers will not. Other drives may just move their eyes from their handheld devices — the major cause of distracted driving.

    Do democrats have control in Indiana — one opines no. Is a major tenet of the republican platform local control — yes, it is. That being the case, why not let democracy work and that local government govern per local voter selection. Furthermore, a private company based in Switzerland, a conservative nation, asks permission to display information — so why does that request evoke an outlandish, irresponsible, and unsubstantiated partisan insult. Again, counterproductive to public discourse and without merit for a positive push for Indianapolis and regional improvement.

  7. my apolitical evaluation of this proposal…….I-69 traffic + Roche messaging boards causing drivers to refocus their attention off the road in front of them = higher accident rates (….and unfortunately maybe a death as a direct consequence). Plain & simple, because of the proximity to I-69, I cannot see any justification for approval of this Roche proposal.

  8. That whole area northeast of Castleton into Fishers is replete with tacky, pointless architecture built by people with more money than sense so this will fit right in. Maybe they can project positive messages of Fishers Mayor Scotty Fadness’ next pizza parlor ribbon cutting ceremony.

  9. Another missed opportunity for the IBJ to inform its readers about something before the governing body took action on it. Whether you like it or not, a zoning variance is forever. It’s not like legislation that can be rolled back if it turns out to be unpopular after implementation.

  10. It’s hilarious to see comments from people who don’t have a dime in the project, so strongly voice their opinions. It’s like, some of you act as though you have a say or vote in the decisions made for the city and multi million dollar company. People keep forgetting that a city is about making money and keeping a company happy is way more important than rants of so called concerned citizens about over exaggerated safety issues. Projects like this are done all the time in places like Vegas, Miami, NYC ect and there’s no reports of safety issues. Hoosiers will make a mountain out of a molehill