In 2016, w/Purpose was commissioned by Midtown Indy to complete a “Pedestrian Streetscape Railing” prototype. This project aims to compliment the new Red Line rapid transit development while addressing some challenges that arise from the new project.

The Red Line will run from Broad Ripple through downtown Indianapolis to the University of Indianapolis, connecting several neighborhoods, major employers and cultural institutions with frequent, rapid transit service, according to IndyGo.

Many residents and businesses impacted by transit infrastructure support the positive changes and see the solution of using physical barriers that are functional and beautiful as a great solution for the corridor

The pedestrian art barriers will provide a visible indicator and separation between pedestrian and vehicle zones. The pedestrian art barriers will compliment new transit stations by using similar design language and elements.

w/Purpose used color, graphics, and text to reinforce area context and associated “Red” line branding. The railing concepts use interchangeable forms and material options that enable the pieces to be flexible at different intersections, corners, or segments of sidewalk.


In 2015, w/purpose was invited to lead the design for a new $13 Million dollar “retro” rehab intends to transform into the former Williamson Candy Factory into a 4-floor, mixed-use game changer for this N.E. Corridor Gateway.

The updated structure includes 49 affordable and market rate one and two bedroom apartments, an 1,800 square foot green roof, a furnished space for public events, an onsite fitness facility, and a job training center.  The project was funded using QAP tax credits and is anticipated to inject new life into the surrounding neighborhood.

Early in the design of Overlook at the Fairgrounds, an important goal of the team was the careful preservation of the existing Homer J Williamson Candy Factory, all while introducing a bold, relevant, and compatible adaptive reuse and new construction project.  As a theme, Overlook at the Fairgrounds new design needed to advance the rhythm and spirit of the existing Art Moderne factory.  Early massings focused on long horizontal lines, unique roof lines, and forms that met the demands of an today’s urban living.  In this way, the challenges of integration with the original 38th Street facade needed to do more than inspire a community, but instead, ensure a new development ideology would be established around historic preservation, public art, and community stabilization.

The Williamson Factory,  its public transformation, and advocacy was carried out by Indianapolis design studio w/purpose. Their adventurous and playful process teased out a number of possible flavours for the former candy factory.  It was clear listening to residents that the new development needed both a youthful kick and strong connection to infrastructure and quality of life elements.  Its design needed to speak to multiple contextual forces, urban elements, and speeds.  The thrill of combining a new residential program with gateway status and historic preservation is what prompted the  multiple iterations, roof forms, massings, and color studies before settling on a final design in January 2015.

Development Concept

Early in the design of Overlook at the Fairgrounds, an important goal of the team was the careful preservation of the existing Homer J Williamson Candy Factory, all while introducing a bold, relevant, and compatible adaptive reuse and new construction project.   The ultimate decision to preserve the historic Art Modern Factory facade solidified the project’s direction and protected a critical design typology that now belongs to the N.E. Corridor gateway and community.

As a theme, Overlook at the Fairgrounds new design needed to advance the rhythm and spirit of the existing Art Moderne factory.  Early massings focused on long horizontal lines, unique roof lines, and forms that met the demands of an today’s urban living.  In this way, the challenges of integration with the original 38th Street facade needed to do more than inspire a community, but instead, ensure a new development ideology would be established around historic preservation, public art, and community stabilization. BWI and their Development Team set a high standard for ensuring the building and its architecture were one of a kind and noteworthy.

Fall Creek Art Canvas Summary:

As part of the area revitalization effort of the area, the now “Overlook at the Fairgrounds” looked to contribute to the Fall Creek Trailhead initiative and its commitment in a larger Quality of Life Program.  an inspired team of area residents, non profits, businesses, and designers all came together for the purposes of educating a larger public about the importance of the area’s natural assets – specifically Fall Creek Waterway.

Our mission was to develop a highly visual story that would highlight the importance of nature in our community’s future.  Together, the collaboration, developed a public art canvas and mural (40’x30’) that can be widely seen and experienced for years to come.

The commissioned artist team, including Artist Will Watson and w/purpose completed the project in March 2017.  At its core the project explores nature, ideas of conservation, and diversity of local resources. It challenges the community to reconnect with natural resources and channels a “sweet” energy of the former Factory.

HJW_EXISTING PERSPECTIVE_DIAGRAM3.jpgFig. 1.0 – Early Concept Sketch of former “Williams Wellmade Candy Factory” by w/purpose, llc

20160502_130328(0).jpgFig. 2.0– Modern Steel Structure (McComas Engineering) shares the buildings streamline attitude.  The vertical steel on the East Facade are supports for 30’x40’ public art project.

Design Team:

Developer: BWI

Construction Management: Keystone Construction

Architect of Record: R&B Architects

Design Lead: w/purpose, LLC

Historic Preservation: R&B Architects

Landscape Architect: Blue Marble

Civil Engineer: Elements Engineering

Total Sqft: 89,136 SQ. FT.



Inside Williford Elementary School in Rocky Mount NC you will find a center of learning with many of the traditional icons and interior cues that most of us have come to recognize like classrooms, gym, music room, and of course the library.  Williford Hallways highlight positive messages throughout the building and famous quotes are reinforced against the schools most colorful blues and freshly colored yellows. It is obvious that the school’s pride and commitment to its community starts early and ends when the gate to the playground closes as the sun goes down over Rocky Mount.

Today, its not unusual to find educational institutions starved to fully offer the full commitment, creative resources, and school pride associated with today’s limited budgets and shifting social challenges. Its really all to common.

These realities can be easily observed at Williford as several of those classrooms have been closed as shrinking districts struggle to find ways to retain students, families, while remaining competitive to area parents.  Yet these “turn around” challenges that schools face today, isn’t a new one, nor is it a time to ignore, deny, or turn inwards. In cases like these the phrase “Innovate or Die” works best because it is a departure towards the possibility for possibilities.  Advancing on our visions and taking thoughtful risks makes unusual relationships seem obvious, demonstrable, and certainly very possible.

Determined to not just transform Williford Elementary, Principal Alston is set on making big changes to boost the home of the Wildcats and its community.  After several conversations with the community and local stakeholders, a seed was laid.  The idea grew to include learning through STEAM related programming that focuses on design, entrepreneurship and manufacturing (a.k.a. “making”) processes. This “creative laboratory” would be the vehicle where an introductory skills and innovation pilot would be introduced.

Identifying a community partner in Rocky Mount to lead this innovative STEAM endeavor was easy as Boys & Girls Club Tar River Region, Chief Executive Officer Ron Green shared his vision to ensure a positive experience for members through special interest clubs and after-school programs geared towards today’s learning needs, tech interests, and career skills. After visiting and researching several spaces in Indiana and the North Carolina region, Green turned to local partner Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant to help advance the pilot by commissioning a design consultant with experience and training curriculum around these new innovation spaces.

Indiana based design team w/purpose was invited by the Boys & Girls Club Tar River Region to transform the Williford classroom into a maker laboratory and training space.  The classroom includes new 3D printing equipment, computer stations, drawing robots, furniture, and tools to inspire and promote collaboration around 21st century career skills and entrepreneurship.

The w/purpose team activated the space w/ charrette space, large bean bags, 3D Printers, and drawing robots that can make some slick flyers. The space needed to be flexible, but with a level of detail geared towards making and collaborative learning.

Thanks in large part to funding by community partners like the Cummins Foundation these spaces are encouraging our youth to be leaders in tomorrows way of making, thinking, and problem solving.  Cummins’ Rocky Mount Plant Leader John Judd explained, “Working with our schools and non profits in this way allows us to try new models & adjust to ways our college-bound or future workforce can learn together.  These high tech spaces, shops, or lab’s allow learning and exploration to happen with new tools, creative expectations and needs of the Rocky Mount community.”

The F.R.A.M.E Shop opened its doors in September 2018 after a two week transformation. Green said, “that the F.R.A.M.E. (Fun, Realistic, Artistic, Maker, Environment) Shop’s mission is simple.” He continued ecstatically…“In this space we wanted to create an environment where young people could have fun while using their artistic and creative ability making physical things that are useful and beautiful. The F.R.A.M.E. shop is a culmination of a youth caring corporation, a creative design team, and an organization that wants cool things for the young people they serve.”



See Vimeo Video of Cultural Corridor Consortium (LINK HERE)

Project Manager: Alejandra Lagunas Intern: Antonio Sanchez

As part of a six-month community engagement process, urban design team w/purpose designed and fabricated various-scaled pinwheels as a creative vehicle to spur conversation and exchange between residents, stakeholders, and the Purple Line Rapid Transit engineers. The purple pinwheel campaign was imagined by several student riders who, after researching the Purple Line website, realized that the transit improvements would emphasize three primary ideas: 1) Ride Better 2) Feel Better 3) Drive Better. The community has participated in making over 150 hand-sized pinwheels they can display at their homes to indicate their support for the Purple Line and further spark conversation with friends about the benefits of rapid transit.

This project was made possible through Indianapolis’ participation in Transportation for America’s Cultural Corridor Consortium program, which is funded by the Kresge Foundation. Additional support is provided by Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), IndyGo, and LISC Indianapolis. 3CIndy is a partnership between Transit Drives Indy and the Arts Council of Indianapolis. 3CIndy is developing a culture of public transit in Indianapolis by working with artists to support the Marion County Transit Plan and connect communities’ transit needs with the agencies who can meet them.
See Press Release (Click here)  (LISC LINK)


**Link to Reconnecting Our Water Ways Interview w/ Wil Marquez**

FLOW is a motion-sensitive design installation that addresses the severity of the water pollution crisis present in today’s society through the use of music.

FLOW is reminiscent of a time with plenty of musical flow: the iconic hip hop era. The boombox is a recognizable icon to many.  Its purpose and meaning as a vehicle to deliver the water story weighed heavily into any decisions by Indiana based design studio w/purpose.

As a driving concept, the FLOW (n. A rapper’s ability to rhyme to phat beats in a skillful manner) of music is used in correlation to the flow of water. Various flows, rhythms, and rhymes” were produced as a response to the pollution problem at hand in our communities.  The aluminum boom box is the appropriate tool to carry a beat – and a message. But how?

A team of computer technicians at Indiana University (Jordan Munson & Ben Smith) used our digital flows and went to work programming and scripting a sensor to recognize and trigger “play” when the sensor recognizes a human form in its field of vision.

Munson and Smith went to work programming a sensor that forms a triangulated field of vision so that the music that plays is connected to where the audience stands. When the audience moves, the song will fade or “flow” into the other song designated to that field of vision.

“The technology and its creative tech architecture was a critical part to our success.  The technology lends itself to learning more about behavior, data collection, and public design.” explained w/purpose Principal Wil Marquez. For w/purpose, the message needed to be delivered through music. “A water revolution needs to be delivered through a creative and educational space and platform in our neighborhoods. It was a pleasure working with students, advocates, and consultants.  The Davinci Pursuit and ROW are phenomenal partners on projects that require this level of divergent thinking”, said Marquez.

A lot of incredible minds went into putting this all together.  Several local businesses helped with FLOWS success, including several custom 3D printed components.  Mark Kessling, Director of Divinci Pursuit said it best, “As more and more people experience FLOW, the hope is that conversations will trigger deeper connections to local waterways, and thereby impact the ways in which FLOW is experienced in future visits,” In this way, the culture of water and local communities is always flowing.”

FLOW creates conversation. It exists to deliver a powerful set of messages to each community in an entertaining, imaginative way.


In 2015 Indianapolis Science and Art Organization “The Davinci Pursuit” commissioned w/purpose to develop a concept for its “ArtPort” initiative.  W/purpose invited 14 year old intern Cohron Williams to explore the project with cardboard and lend his music ambitions to the project through the lens of music and water.

Cohron’s early work and lyrics were a powerful driver in pushing the project concept forward.  It was during this process that the bigger idea for FLOW emerged.  Using the hip hop boombox icon – w/purpose would deliver a unique message about the importance of water in our lives.


After some reading, videos, and research, 14 year old Williams delivered this song on water or “Blue Gold” as his song was titled. Here are those lyrics:

Blue Gold | Cohron Williams

CLICK HERE- (Flow 1_01)


As i stand up to protect what i believe in- face to face with my demons, and all i dont agree with- i fill a cup from the sink, close my eyes, and start drinkin- then i go over my lines and make sure i mean it- water, man, we need it, gotta watch how we treat it- we dump in our garbage, when really we should clean it- say love it and mean it, and keep it like secrets- and have a sense of pride, everytime you drink it- cuz theres people not drinkin, theres people goin thirsty- the water trade like griselda blanco, no mercy- the water running low and we should all be worried- cuz the water closest to us is bad, its dirty- its polluted, its sewage and now we cant use it- but its not too late, we can fix it, improve it- and all we really need, is just two goals- to clean up and take care, of blue gold


I flow like the water flows- im so thankful for my water hose- people go where the water goes- where we goin go if all the water’s gone- we need water just to live life- without water we cant live right- people go where the water goes- where we goin go if all the water’s gone

That same year, Indianapolis music producer Andrew Vinson and Williams were introduced. Together, steps were taken to develop a number of creative lyrics and rhythms that would work as the digital music for “Flow”.  Vinson, a trained musician, used hip hop as a vehicle to release three “flows” that would educate and inspire.

Please enjoy:

A. Water is life

B. Once the water is gone

C. Oceans in Spain

Funology Maker-Studio at Boys & Girls Club

Patronicity Project Video (Link Here)

Republic Newspaper (Link Here)

Wil Marquez, founder of design company w/purpose, is a maker space professional and has developed one of three maker spaces in Indianapolis. Marquez and his team at w/purpose will design the Foundation for Youth Maker Studio, and he said he plans to place the project on a fast track.

“The art spaces and creative spaces in our Boys and Girls Clubs today are probably the same ones that were in there in 1983,” Marquez said. “That is bins of paint brushes, bins of crayons, tables marked on and painted on.”

Marquez said his focus is on how to attract and retain teens in a way that transforms existing areas into a creative space with today’s 21st century tools and 21st century learning.

“We’re not just making cool spaces to make cool spaces, but I think we’re trying to bridge the gap for manufacturing here in Indiana,” Marquez said. “We’re trying to build stewards of innovation so that way of thinking stays in the state. The space becomes way bigger than just a cool place for kids to hang out.”

“We’re going to take the ideas that are in your sketchbooks that are not only drawn in the margins of their paper, but typically stay in the margins,” Marquez said. “What we’re telling them is that those ideas won’t have to stay there anymore.”

Through the use of technology such as 3-D printers, Marquez said not only students but people in the community will be able to bring their ideas to life in real time while understanding the power of design.

“Every neighborhood and every community has a different use for their maker space,” Marquez said. “Whatever it is, we need more of them.”

Building the Maker Studio in Columbus will:

  • Provide a space and curriculum in which youth explore 21st century tools, have fun, and build digital literacy and career skills through hands-on creating.

  • Start a hub for makers of all ages in East Columbus and integrate an under-served neighborhood into Columbus’ design community.

  • Continue Columbus’ commitment to the value of good design by investing in future designers, makers, and builders.

Exhibit Columbus has hired w/purpose, llc to make this project extra special by helping the Boy’s and Girl’s Club connect to the cutting edge.  W/purpose was a year long member of the Exhibit Columbus curatorial team and designed the Maker Studio and created an excellent youth curriculum. Young makers used the high-tech suite of tools at the Maker Studio to explore design concepts and strategies inspired by Exhibit Columbus!

A Place for Making

As part of the Exhibit Columbus team and with the help of the community the Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Columbus Indiana renovated an existing classroom and turned it into a state-of-the-art makerspace. The project total is $40,000. All money raised will:

  • Transforming the currently underutilized “Fun-ology room” into an innovation space that inspires creative thinking and collaborative learning.

  • Purchasing computers, software, and specialized equipment including a 3D scanner, a CNC router, and a 3D printer that will allow makers to take their projects from digital designs to real-world prototypes.

  • Implementing an electrical plan that can handle the needs of high-tech machinery.

  • Finalizing a curriculum for youth that will introduce them to design concepts and the software and tools available at the Maker Studio. This curriculum is tailor-made for Columbus, responding to the city’s design landmarks and the new design strategies used by the 2017 Miller Prize winners in their Exhibit Columbus installations.

  • Training the first generation of staff to use and maintain equipment, help users realize their design ideas, and teach in the youth programs.

As the design consultant, w/purpose, llc was able to create a cutting edge creative laboratory for East Columbus!

What is Exhibit Columbus

Exhibit Columbus is an annual celebration of architecture, art, design, and community that honors Columbus’ architectural heritage and envisions an even brighter future. The Exhibit Columbus curatorial team believes that good design can transform a community, not only by bringing designers to transform the cityscape during their 2017 exhibition, but also by supporting the potential makers and designers who already live in Columbus.

William Marquez and Erin Hetrick are part of the Exhibit Columbus Curatorial Team who are collaborating with Nathan to develop the youth curriculum. Wil, a co-founder of Design Bank in Indianapolis and a leader in implementing makerspaces in under-served communities, has designed the space and planned the Maker Studio. Erin is an educator and consultant who, as owner of Genius Fish, helps cultural organizations support their audiences through meaningful learning experiences.

Change of Pace | North Main project kicks off Jacobsville revamp

Change of Pace

Talk of development in Evansville recently has been centered on Downtown. But the city has its sights on other areas of improvement as well — one of the biggest being the North Main corridor/Jacobsville area. 

The journey for Jacobsville — a 1.9-square-mile neighborhood situated just north of Downtown with North Main as its business corridor — began about seven years ago when Stephanie Tenbarge, executive director of ECHO Housing, attended an Indiana Association for Community Economic Development (IACED) conference in Indianapolis.

“One of our homework assignments was asset mapping,” she says. “When I came back, I realized I had about five times the amount of pages of the other neighborhoods there.”

To Tenbarge, that meant Jacobsville was ready for development.

Tenbarge along with IACED, Habitat for Humanity, and the City of Evansville began a quality of life process for the neighborhood, engaging residents in conversations about the challenges of the area and the changes they would like to see. This initiative would give birth to Jacobsville Join In (JJI).

Since then, JJI has been the connection between the neighborhood and the city, encouraging residents to be a part of the development while also ensuring concerns and needs are heard by officials.

To help with this process, JJI brought in Wil Marquez of w/purpose, an Indianapolis-based creative design studio that works with cities and neighborhoods. With his help, the picture of the future began to evolve from the feedback of residents and business owners. To Marquez, understanding the neighborhood was the important first step.

“The building is going to come, but we’ve got to build culture and capacity,” he says. “I think people have this idea that neighborhoods are not living things. And that’s just simply crazy. They have to evolve.”

The Complete Street Project, which began in 2016, may not have been the first step for the area, but it certainly began to show residents the start of the redevelopment. The project entails removing on-street parking along the east side of North Main Street beginning at Division Street and ending at Maryland Street.

The freed space is being transformed into a buffered, eight-foot-wide bicycle path stretching along the entire North Main business corridor. Parking still will be allowed on the west side of the street, as well as in new off-street parking zones. Complete Street project will extend up to Garvin Park, but still provide parking on both sides of the street in residential areas, says Tenbarge. Construction is expected to finish in September 2017.

From this project alone, North Main business is expected to grow. An economic impact study put together by The Lochmueller Group predicts a boost in aggregate property values by $1.9 million over a six-year period. The Evansville Otters, who call Bosse Field home, also will see a revenue jump around $450,000, the study shows.

“The work that JJI and ECHO are doing is noble,” says Marquez. “If you’re going to buy in, I would say double down now.”

Complete Street is only the beginning of the process, adds Tenbarge.

“It’s an, ‘If you build it, they will come’ type of thing. It’s a slow process, but we’re seeing a level of interest of people wanting to come into this community,” she says. “It will be where people want to live, it’s where people will want to be.”



In 2016, Riley Area Development Corporation posted a call to area designers, entrepreneurs, or organizations open to opening a creative holiday pop up.

Design Bank Co-Owners NaShara Mitchell and Wil Marquez applied and were invited to transform a vacant storefront along the popular Mass Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. The two month residency enabled the Design Bank to expand its mission by offering educational and professional training and consulting around emerging design technologies for STEM/STEAM programming and advanced manufacturing processes.

Design Bank retailed 3D printed products from their students and members, including 3D Printed jewelry crafted by local women entrepreneur using exotic plastics and a Bear-Robot ornament inspired by 14 year old student Semi.

The hands on experience and retail pop up know-how allowed us to educate a public about the makers movement, promote new technologies in manufacturing, and support local student makers with mentorship and real life experience.  The benefits behind training our student makers and members is to develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination; Spatial skills; enhance capacity for creative, divergent thinking; Social skills; Language skills; Practice science and math skills



Over ten years ago the Near West side of Indianapolis presented itself as an area in early transition.  By researching its rich and diverse past, it was clear that the phenomenon of being lost and rediscovered is very much part of the Near West narrative.  In considering my own story with the area, I am reminded that this Indianapolis community has never been motionless, but always non-stop.  Its transformation directly connected to the expansion of mobility.The development of leftover spaces like “Non Stop” Station position a community on the verge of major change by reinforcing a strong identity and extending local stake in exchange for advocacy, labor, or clean-up.It is during this process that new knowledge is exchanged and “expert” residents commit to organized cultural/identity programs, connectivity efforts, and development futures.  For w/purpose, the icons for mobility (Car/Train) are ideal representations of decentralized modes of cultural. We hope to continue to connect new cultural centers throughout the Near West community.

Purpose Park: 2014 re:Purpose 5×5 Winner from People For Urban Progress on Vimeo.


In 2013, w/purpose collaborated with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, IndyGO, Arlington High School, City Departments, local utilities, developers and residents to transform an outdated transit stop in Indy’s N.E. Corridor. w/purpose designed a creative transit experience and worked to secure a Project Green Space Grant through KIB to execute work. Overall, this 30K public transit stop made a tremendous impact in this N.E. community and has become an example to other communities. The w/purpose team demonstrated our experience leading a team of community members, design professionals, and content partners in accomplishing an action item in the neighborhood plan.

The projects “site specific appeal” lies in its use of local reclaimed materials from the historic Hoosier Dome and Bush Stadium. The new transit stop showcase new plantings, a water reclamation system, and additional seating.

Bicycle Garage Indy Designs with Rare Species for New Store

W/purpose has been commissioned by Bicycle Garage Indy to complete a 900 sqft architectural installation at their new North store, currently under construction.

The iconic textured wall called “Rare Species”, was designed using a rare species of wood salvaged from 1900 Indiana High School (Arlington High School).  Once sourced by the navy for their ships, the Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) has been quietly replaced with faster-growing Pines. Due to longtime deforestation and over-harvesting, only about 3% of the original Longleaf Pine forest remain.

W/purpose has teamed with local fabricator ACS Sign Solutions on the 35′ x 24′ piece, which will be completed in late January. “Rare Species” will join a series of unique and custom architectural installations completed by w/purpose, located at the YMCA Bike Hub, Tomlinson Tap Room, Blu Lounge, Nikki Blaine Couture, Indiana Convention and Visitors Association, and various local residences.

Dressing Indianapolis: Presented by Spirit & Place Festival


Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7 p.m. | Indianapolis Museum of Art

We adorn the body. How do we adorn a city? A distinctive style, sparkling accessories, good lighting … what does a city need to look good? How does city style way brand identity, community development, and reputation? What can urban design learn from fashion design?

Join us for a vibrant conversation on city style featuring TED-style talks by w/purpose principal Wil Marquez, IMA fashion arts curatorial associate Petra Slinkard, Indy Fashion Collective representative Benjamin Blevins, and artist Kipp Normand, followed by a panel discussion with architect Sanford Garner, writer and critic David Hoppe, stylist and designer Nikki Sutton, and design advocate Michael Bricker.

Moderated by Michael Kaufmann of Health & Hospital Corporation, and MC’d by Jennifer Smith of AvantGarb. Between presentations, see images by local photographers that tell the design story of Indy’s cultural districts.

Presented by the Spirit & Place Festival and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Dressing Indianapolis blends the IndyTalks 2011 theme, Indy as Super City, and the Spirit & Place 2011 theme, The Body, to explore the parallels and intersection between urban design and fashion design. The program  is made possible with generous support from LEVEL Interior Architecture+Design and Silver in the City.

Design Maintained - Wil Marquez lectures at IMAEvent

2011 Festival Theme: The Body


Pam Blevins Hinkle

Director, Spirit & Place

The Polis Center, IUPUI

1200 Waterway Blvd.

Indianapolis, IN 46202


Direct line: 317.278.2644

Fax: 317.278.1830


a movement w/purpose

In a recent November article in The Chronicle of Education, James Proctor, Director of the Environmental-Studies Program at Lewis & Clark College, questioned what a more “cosmopolitan sustainability movement might look like?” I quickly considered my own firms efforts, of late, with local advocacy groups, public markets, and development corporations on the renewed interest in our cities connection along cultural, political, economic, ecological, or social lines – all key elements that Proctor categorized under the “rubric of cosmopolitanism”.

Aesthetic or social movements, such as these, often demand we shift our thinking about how we retool where we live in order to prepare our neighborhoods for notions of regeneration for an upcoming century. We seem to be in a climate where neighborhoods and citizens are growing increasingly less interested in the idea of one dimensional planning efforts that have become the default for organizing and development strategies in our cities. This includes predictable program models, tired community surveys, shelved master plans, and uninspired development frameworks that leave little consideration for the interdependence or success of solving complex growth issues.

Disenchanted, I’m listening to communities organize under new forms of urban  typologies that tend to blur private/public relationships and are fixed on equipping their neighborhoods with re-imagined streetscapes and vision plans based on innovative infrastructure, smart growth, identity, ecology, arts, advocacy and people. These new modes of infrastructure can easily be characterized by their overlap of program functions, along with cultural and innovative uses that benefit not just the local, but an expanded network of  functioning neighborhoods, retail zones, including suburbs.

Indianapolis Museum of Art // Emerging Designer Lecture Series – A New Urban Design Future from William Marquez on Vimeo.

These conversations are being introduced and implemented through programmatic elements such as energy installations, public pavilions, gateways, multi-model stations, playgrounds, sculpture gardens, cultural trails, pocket parks, and hybrid type public facilities that challenge the formal structure of the city, connect us, or bring communities together. These public infrastructure scenarios are popping up everywhere and being discovered daily at interchanges, bridges, production clusters, retail centers, brown-fields, and transit nodes.

This “movement” on place making has grown out a type of local activism that insists on denying formal boundaries, diversifying programmatic frameworks, and discovering hybrids and shared cultural opportunities that enhance notions of place, identity, and future. It is in many ways it is a scaled “stimulant” towards what will be the eventual integration of contemporary hybrids of landscape and architecture.

In all cases these elements invite activities once left to formal or permanent institutions to reorganize under new modes of urban place making that take on more temporary, seasonal, or transitional structures. They will take on a very different form and function than those of fifty years ago. What I believe we can all agree on is that wind-powered generators, green roofs, and organic gardens alone, will not solve the plethora of issues surrounding cities and neighborhoods in the emerging twenty-first century.

Re-Connect Devington

Re-Connect Devington is a campaign that not only re-imagines our community under new conditions, but activates a shared responsibility between our city and our neighborhoods. We are proud to support Devington Community Association and its efforts to grow and bring residents together.


w/purpose wanted to begin an honest conversation about what the legacy of our city might look like.  For us this meant neighborhoods, their environment and what they might look like going into this next century. We wanted to be involved in an effort that  might realign citizens  with our community’s health, infrastructure, development and future.

Devington Resident Wil Marquez Lectures at IMA on ReConnect

In this particular urban scenario, we’ve focused our attention on  the issue of mid-century retail development and its exhaustion in many first ring suburbs.  These “first suburb” developments have become part of a new debate in cities and universities. According to research by the Brooking Institute:

“First suburbs—containing nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population—are inimitable and quite distinct from the rest of the nation and other parts of metropolitan America.”

“These first suburbs exist in a policy blind spot with little in the way of state or federal tools to help them adapt to their new realities and secure a role as competitive and quality communities.”

We have taken a special interest in these “distinct” communities in our city. We have become interested in new partnerships between public community groups, private owners, and urban advocates such as People for Urban Progress, Big Car, or IndyCog. We believe collaboration between these groups will reveal some unique opportunities that will shift our thinking about  regeneration in these communities.

Traditional retail models, such as Devington Plaza will not survive going into  the next  century.  Instead, we’ve considered a hybrid mix between Devington Farm +  Devington strip mall could be the type of thinking that reverses disinvestment and disconnection first suburb communities. Our design considers a scenario that invites transit based density housing to participate in an ecological development that provides citizens  proximity to natural tributary, flower gardens, high school library, shopping, transit speed bus to Downtown, maintained wetlands, and a performance pavilion for story telling or dance.

In the interest of helping communities, we’ve invited many local and community leaders to adopt this type of campaign into their lives and businesses. With these resources, Devington Communities Association is developing a  plan of action that will be rolled out this year. To further develop this plans like this, meetings will occur over the next year that will provide ALL residents an opportunity to have a voice in the proposed changes. There will be multiple levels of involvement from beautification (planting flowers) to pure neighborhood activism.

Click to view the full digital publication online
Read Revival by Rail: Devington’s Past an Inspiration for its Future

We understand this effort to begin in three primary areas and will be coordinated by various key partners with-in Devington. They are:

1. 56th and Emerson Retail Zone (Millersville )

2. Devington Shopping Plaza (DCA // NY Owner)

3. 38th Street Infrastructure Redevelopment (between Arlington and Emerson)

What you are about to see is the result of many months of information and data gathering, urban design strategy and down to earth grassroots efforts between residents, church leaders, neighborhood groups, and Community Development Corporations.

We understand these proposed infrastructure and urban planning changes to simply be guiding principles on how to begin re-connecting many dots, so please come with an open mind. To make our collective vision of a reality, we need to draw upon the spirit, skills, resources and ideas of our community members.



Made in Indiana – Tomlinson Tap Room

Walking out of our first meeting, it was clear that “MADE IN INDIANA” would be the underlying campaign in honoring not just Indiana beers, but also honoring a narrative on Indiana craft, community space, and creativity.  There is often an enormous commitment in suggesting an All-Hoosier design experience in an Historic Public Market,  especially these days, as many Black Friday shoppers waited in long lines to purchase NOT MADE IN INDIANA products. Framed under these conditions, I wanted to answer a question that is on everyone’s mind:

“Can a Hoosier themed Craft Beer Bar save the City Market?”

I say no…but wait!


Festival Marketplace Syndrome

Prior to any real design work, it was important that I referenced Erik Ledbetter’s short article called: Rethinking Adaptive Reuse, or, How Not to Save a Great Urban Terminal. In the web article he describes the downfall of Woollen, Molzan and Partners Festival Marketplace at the Historic Indianapolis Union Station and suggests several factors that play into how not to save an historic urban structure.

Ledbetter explained, “Station shopping malls and festival marketplaces do best when the station is also still a station.”

What Ledbetter is saying, is that in most cases it is helpful to develop big ideas that help the public market retain its function as – a public market. Suggesting then, that anything else may invite the Market to be something it is not (like a fast food market). The leadership at our Indianapolis City Market has done a wonderful job as of late setting the tone for a creative and  responsible strategy that supports the City Market’s original purpose

Tomlinson is far more than a bar. It is a bar at our Public Market.  I’m entertained by its history, scale, movement, depth, an detail. The buildings weight and age emotionally scale the space so its digestible.  With only conversation and people around you, I can see how Tomlinson Tap Room will be a welcomed partner in promoting ideas of gathering,  politics, story telling, and community.

This idea of building a community around craft beer, was spearheaded by community table Operations Czar, Vicki Higuera, who confidently described the “communal table” as the physical objects that would act as the “mojo”  for where people would gather, meet, or exchange. They were to be an extension of the main bar and would need to carry the same potential of inviting strangers to toast or celebrate, like a community.

The pine beams and boards for the communal tables and cooler wall were located in Southeast, Indiana. A small local  business that recently found a niche with demolition and reclamation of materials from demolished factories or buildings. When I arrived there, a crew of workers were stacking pallets of full sized bricks that came from an demolished early 1900’s building.  The pallets of bricks (#’s in the X,000’s), were on their way to a New Orleans housing development for re-installation. I was shocked.

w/purpose teamed with artists and fabricators  Nick Allman and  Centerline Studio. We hand selected six (3″ x 9.5″ x 21′) pine beams that were in so many words – thick & solid.  It was an awesome find. I knew immediately that we had located the right stock. It had original stain and soot from 1913 Muncie Steel & Wire Factory.  Their 3″ depth was necessary to not suggest, but impose a nudge as an invitation.  Their 8′-0″ length were what we all wanted in tables to represent appropriate extensions from the bar.  Steel I-beam columns, rod details, and straps help accentuate the bars identity and character.

Graphic and communication newcomers, CODO Design Group promoted their “Hands-on Branding” process which produced a powerful and appropriate brand that played a significant part in the tables concept design.  With no bar photo, rendering, or  finish swatches available, the communal tables were left to reference only the existing architecture and identity package.  Tomlinson’s stamped type face, color, placement and details all move well with the overall composition of the space.

So you see…the Tomlinson Tap Room is an overwhelming yes. I will go on record saying that it will be a success as a viable social space that goes to the heart of  Urban Design in Indianapolis. It alone, will not save the City Market. Do you know what will?

If we all bought 1 growler for someone this Holiday.  The result of keeping it real…in a very public space.

Happy Holidays



GRAD MAGAZINE // Don’t grow up – grow creative!


Grad Magazine: November 2010

The great—and scary—thing about graduating from college is that you never know where life is going to take you. GRAD interviewed three Indiana professionals about their lives and career paths—and asked for their words of advice for new college grads.

Creative Voice: Wil D Marquez

Growing up in his hometown of Portage, Indiana, Wil Marquez practiced his design skills by building forts from lake-effect snows that blew in off of Lake Michigan.

After graduating from Valparaiso High School in 1996, Marquez earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan. Marquez has ventured much further. In addition to working for firms in Minneapolis and Indianapolis, he’s designed for clients in Abu Dhabi and Indianapolis, and traveled to destinations as diverse as Italy, Morocco and Argentina.

But he recently struck out on his own, founding his own firm, w/purpose, a creative urban design studio that expresses his own curiosity about neighborhoods, buildings, streetscapes, and urban spaces.

Marquez located the firm in his mid-century home on the near east side of Indianapolis-an ode to the modern architecture that was taking off in the 1950s.  It’s a neighborhood of vintage architectural gems that Marquez is proud to be part of, even if it is a bit edgy. Once in decline, the neighborhood is coming back thanks to devotee; of mid-century modern who are snapping up homes for as little as $80,000.

Marquez Home: 1956 A-Frame - First Devington Neighborhood, Indianapolis (Photo

“These homes were built with good design, good construction, good craftsmanship, and materials.” Marquez says. “In 30 minutes I can bike to a trail that takes me Downtown to [Indianapolis].

His business card has the usual information-name, phone number, email address-but it pops with an orange figure of a man kicking.

Kicking what?

“I want to kick down old models on how we think about urban space and how to get people to those places.” Marquez says. “We need to retool ourselves and our infrastructure.”

Architecture is a tough gig, given a sluggish economy, but Marquez is concentrating on winning projects that will set a new tone for Indianapolis. He’s currently at work on elements of a redesigned Indianapolis City Market in the heart of the city.

Advice: “Be brave. Be confident. Have some guts. And don’t grow up, grow creative.

Omar Munante - Uruguay - Con Proposito (w/purpose) in South America

Installation by w/purpose for Indianapolis City Market

Marketplace - Marrakesh Morocco // Photo by Wil Marquez

Grad: Real Life Indiana | November 2010 |

Gibson Case Study Home

Inspired by its location, the Gibson Home was my first modern residence.  The home was for Adam and Cathy Gibson. Their need to explore a larger home seemed timely with growing children and Adam’s home business growing.

An empty lot near in the Forest Hills Neighborhood, near Broadripple, offered an opportunity for a home to frame a series of trees beyond, while securing a relationship to the street. More importantly, was the reclaimed stone that our client rescued to be the catalyst for a home they wanted for their future.

The design took advantage of the sites length. The elevation reveals three view corridors at varying depths, with their rooms and personal spaces anchoring the back and the most public in the front.  It’s multiple levels meet at a center core that organizes how one moves through the space and programs are divided.

Indianapolis Rotary Gateway Competition

In 2006, the Indianapolis Rotary Club invited teams to submit for a 2-stage competition in Indianapolis that featured Electrolands, Cameron Mcnall and Ninebark Eric Fulford. Designer. Wil Marquez was invited to join the team for his digital design expertise and creative problem solving. The submission called for navigating the city through a series of layered multiple landmarks, boulevards, and light. Entrance and passage are accentuated to redefine the promise of an urban landscape that has become cluttered and un-welcoming. That passage begins at the perimeter of downtown, where we are first introduced to the City along the inner loop of the freeway and river, punctuated by portals that are linked to the heart of downtown, Monument Circle. Each portal was to share three essential components. Principal,

City Tower feat. Northstar and Portal Entry: Rendering by Electroland

First, a system of color-coded CITY TOWERS and environmental color fields encircles the inner loop of the freeway, announcing each portal destination, making a powerful statement about arrival.

Second, the transition from freeway to city street marks the PORTAL ENTRY, where the transition to pedestrian filled streets is balanced with traffic modified by engineered calming measures.

Finally, each significant road engaged with the PORTAL becomes a grand driving experience, a BOULEVARD, introducing us to the diverse neighborhood Districts that compose Indianapolis. In this broad, layered manner we provide a template for a comprehensive approach that clarifies the existing city structure and offers a cohesive, collective identity of place.

My work with Eric Fulford at his home studio in 2006 was amazing. I remember sitting outside his studio discussing the layout and evaluating the terrain. This project was a large suggestion for a gateway. Its suggestion and energy was in the right place.  As a team, I felt that our confidence in offering something unique and visually explosive was timely.

Here is how we described the NORTH STAR

The North Star has guided explorers, wanderers and seekers throughout history. It gave confidence to those who took risks across the unknown to seek a future in a new place. Just as the North Star anchored the Dipping Gourd that guided escaping slaves along the Underground Railroad, the North Star anchors the Canal Promenade. Providing a neighborhood landmark that orients and connects you to this place. This large sculptural cone, clad in woven stainless steel mesh and studded with thousands of small LED lights, symbolically speaks about people coming together from distant places to focus their energy in a collaboration to build a new future for themselves and this community.

NORTH STAR installation along canal // Renderings by Wil Marquez

NORTH STAR // Rendering by Wil Marquez


In 2013, w/purpose was commissioned by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to work alongside local partners who were motivated to transform a vacant property on the West side of Indianapolis. A vacant property was awarded  as one of KIB’s Project Green Space Grant. The creation of Purpose Park grew from a pure commitment around a collective space that binds people together, serves local needs, networks residents, and constructs what author Villa Raul Homero calls, “symbolic spatial practices” or local events, parades, and activities that promote assembly.

For most American communities, including Hawthorne and Haughville, the celebration of its arts and cultural assets typically did not take place in formal architectural spaces, rather in appropriated public environments such as parks, plazas, markets, and streets, where families celebrated the traditional practices of food, dance, sports, or music. With Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, area residents and w/purpose imagined a different landscape on North Holmes.

A place where children could play, be fed, and learn lessons that build character. You can imagine the surprise and joy of local Near West residents when they received a letter from the Indianapolis City Council to acknowledge and pass Special Resolution on behalf of Purpose Park. Today, native flowers and fruit trees grace the landscape, along with a casita for community performances, and vibrant public art in the form of a bright yellow, 1964 Pontiac Bonneville planted into the ground.

Warren High School Public Bench

Warren High School’s Advanced Placement art class undertook a six-month long “design-thinking” project that led students to create two public artworks through a collaborative, problem-solving process now used in industries including health care, software design, industrial design, and even public policy.

The “Creating with Confidence: Design Thinking for Public Art” project is supported in part by an LRNG Innovation Challenge grant. The grants stem from a partnership between the National Writing Project and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign to help educators extend time and space for connected learning. The connected learning theory posits that learning happens on a continuum—in school, as well as at home, work, and among friends—and is driven by students’ own interests and life experiences.

Art teacher LaTonya Mason said the project also taught students to think deeply and consider multiple solutions to a problem.  Mrs. Mason noted, “The design process is more advanced, more thought-provoking than anything they’ve ever done.”

The design-thinking project made students realize that the usual quick pace of the class might be stifling innovation and that slowing down, “asking them questions and getting them to dive deeper is going to help them creatively.”

Artist Brent Aldrich and design studio w/purpose helped students with prototypes


Warren High School serves an economically and racially diverse population from the city’s East Side. Almost 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, more than half are African American, a quarter are white, and the rest Hispanic, Asian, or multiracial. Although some of the 28 juniors and seniors enrolled in AP art are top students, others are struggling at home or in school and “really rely on the arts as their strength to get them through,” said Cassandra Thomas of Arts for Learning in Indianapolis, which spearheaded the project at Warren.

The project began late last fall with a series workshops at the Herron School of Art and Design led by associate professor and director of the graduate program in Design Thinking and Design Leadership Youngbok Hong. In an airy studio, she led students through the early steps in the design-thinking process, which requires innovators to define, ideate, prototype, and test.

In an early activity, Hong asked students to take photographs of their daily routine at home and school. Then in small groups, they examined their photos and answered the question, “What’s missing? What experiences would make your life better?”

Sharing experiences is a way to build the kind of trust needed to take creative risks, Hong explained. Empathizing with the problems of others is also the first step for designers in creating innovative products and services, she noted. “Not knowing what the problem is, how can you create a solution?”

Guided by a local artist, one class continued with time as their theme while the other tackled communication. “We did a lot of sketching and sharing sketches and editing each other’s work,” recalled senior JoDee Lynch, who intends to pursue interior design.

w/purpose graduate students Ariel Bunger & Naomi Kurpier talk design w/ students


The communication group, meanwhile, designed a vibrantly hued public bench to encourage strangers to interact and exchange. Students created two prototypes of the bench, shaped like an open circle.

Students worked with Indiana Artist Brent Aldrich on early models and sketches. W/purpose was commissioned by Aldrich and Arts for Learning to both optimize the students’ vision and value engineer their models into an actual physical product. Using 3-D modeling and various resin prototypes w/purpose worked to ensure that the Warren students public bench was well designed, organized, powder-coated, and welded.

In late April 2016 at the school’s annual art fair, the steel bench was displayed along with a model of the final design. Over 200 students, teachers, and parents attended the benches debut at the school library.