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.


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.”



**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.”