Former Candy Factory Icon is a Sweet Deal Along Fall Creek

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.