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.



At the center of the Midtown area is Maple Crossing and an 84-year-old building named The Concord. Situated at the northwest corner of 38th  and Illinois streets, the 10,000 square-foot building has been the talk of the neighborhood for years.

In its past, The Concord was home to a cigar shop, drug store, ice cream shop, restaurant, and “a place to buy Cherry Cokes for 10 cents,” says a long-time resident.

The building was once a destination that residents loved and and patronized. Until Midtown Indy purchased the building in 2016, it had been largely vacant for more than two decades leaving the two-story space neglected and in need of restoration.  Midtown Indy acquired the building to return it back to the people it used to serve — its neighbors. A series of listening sessions open to the public were organized to find out what the community needed and wanted to see happen in the space.

Since the building has been under renovation, passersby have come in and shared what they want to see next. The priorities identified by the community include the provision of basic groceries through a winter farmers market and/or the establishment of a concept grocer. Additionally, it was suggested to host a series of community-based supportive events such as a neighborhood museum or a competition-style program that supports local entrepreneurship.
Midtown Indy’s revitalization intent is in line with community’s requests and the building’s name — to bring concord and harmony back to an historic building and the communities it serves. The collaborative effort to restore the building is catalytic to the collective vision for the heart of Midtown at Maple Crossing.


Aspire House, is an 1897 landmark five miles from downtown Indianapolis.  In danger of demolition; the building is being repurposed as a community space with a goal of moving this area from blight to revitalization.

The population in the area is primarily African American and mostly single.  Thirty-one is the median age of residents. Nearly half of the residents have lived in their homes for at least five years. While the neighborhood surrounding the fire house has suffered business divestiture, is a food desert, with no access to basic neighborhood services; The 46208 zip code that it shares is home to notable employers/real estate. Butler University, Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Riverside Park, Ivy Tech Community College, Chritian Theological Seminary, Coffin Golf Course, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, are its impressive neighbors.

Revitalizing this structure will serve at the catalyst for others to invest in this neighborhood. The Aspire House will unite the building’s owners, residents, local college art students and others to create a functunal building. The building’s abandoned contents will be artistically re-purposed into functional pieces. The first floor of the building will provide a creative space for arts and culture. The space will showcase art creations and installations that reflects the history of the Firehouse. The second and third floor of the buidling wil be residential units. This project encourages others interested in living in this revitalized neighborhood, to partner on projects that further develop the community; like using materials from renovated homes, up-cycling them into artistic pieces – with Aspire House leading the way to such collaborative works.


For Indianapolis North-East residents – the label “turnaround” has been synonymous with the realities of education reform and transformation. Taken in context, its “reversal” ambitions suggest an immediacy or impact condition. In any case, “turnaround” has become an controversial word for big change, including a “we are not doing business as usual” reality which is exactly the place to start a project with purpose.

W/purpose principal, Wil Marquez considers urban design a dessert best served with a load of vision and  topped off with a rich story that everyone can sink their teeth into.  In the case of a first ring community like Devington, Indianapolis’s “first” North-East suburb, whose claim to fame was not only considered a desirable “a new way of living”, but whose mid century vanguard and immediate downfall – should give a city pause. In many ways, “First Devington” and its “subdivision” past reflect a metaphor for the representation of neglect but also the poster-child for a “turn around”.

Entering into this project, w/purpose asked Indianapolis developer Gary Hobbs, President of BWI, LLC “why compete with other developers by essentially offering the same affordable product?” We felt strongly that a sub-urban development will flourish only if they push development an architectural ideology to a higher ground of innovation. We, including Hobbs, didn’t want to feel constrained by an “either or” scenario, when an “either AND or” solution existed.  In agreement, Hobbs locked into the unique interplay of disciplines, people, and resources where the final solution would not only be coined as an appropriate “architecture” or affordable building product, but a community focused product that is not only site specific, but a visible catalyst in turning around the areas economic and cultural revival.

The interplay of people was not organized under a traditional top down design model, where architect/developer behaves as protagonist or solo visionary. Under these conditions the Devington community already came equipped with a big idea, which our office would only be reacting to or working with. Instead, a model introduced by dean William Rees Morrish at New York’s 2010 Architecture Week frames how our team wanted to engage – somewhere along the fold of social architecture, system thinker, or urban specialist. In short, w/purpose positioned itself as turnaround ninjas – whose agenda included these 10 goals:

  1. Participate alongside Devington Communities Association, United North East CDC, various city departments, and local collaborators to develop a clear redevelopment strategy.
  2. Research local context, material, and aesthetic.
  3. Develop site specific façade and lighting design strategy.
  4. Investigate ideas of connectivity to local resources & institutions (school, church, retail, bike lanes).
  5. Develop unique story, including media communication
  6. Execute creative scenarioscapes and various project representations and presentations.
  7. Develop site and urban design infrastructure strategy (bike rack, seating, banner poles, cart corral, entry canopy design).
  8. Continue to ask big questions that discomfort the giants.
  9. Work with local transit authority on updated bus stop.
  10. Remind ourselves not to be lame by finding plausible design solutions that others at the table ignore, deny or can’t solve.

In the recent article, The Business of Design, Bill Breen explains, “in this turbulent, get-real economy, the advantage goes to those who can out imagine and out create their competitors”. As a urban + public design office, this is exactly where we wanted to end up.  We listened to the communities concerns on affordable housing, regeneration,  crime and quickly came to the realization that certain kinds of affordable housing products need a team to become co-authors, not consultants, to a story that openly embrace a design “turnaround” strategy.

As the project looks to break ground soon, what ultimately shook out for us was clear map of how a senior community connects with area resources, engages their curiosities, and visualizes their future. This interplay in divergent thinking inspired a first step in not just shifting current affordable development ideology – but a new way to expand the discussion around an areas reality of  “turnaround”.

Design Bank


Located in N.E. Indianapolis, the Design Bank is an event and professional space where groups and individuals to come together in a learning and working space to share ideas, time, talent and resources in the hopes of bettering-themselves and transforming a community.

*WISH TV. Feb. 17th, 2015 – New Group Plans to Curb Crime through Design

At its core, the Design Bank will be the home of Indianapolis’s urban and public design practice, w/purpose and downtown Indy’s Studio B. Sharing a passion for community development, education, and entrepreneurship, these emerging business expanded their “design” meets “learning flex space” biz model into an empty 5000 sqft art modern Bank, just east of the new Avondale Meadows YMCA.  By leveraging design’s holistic ability to promote innovative thinking and creative play, we hope the Design Bank becomes the type of innovative business our community and city would value and support.

The Design Bank will convert the 1950’s Indiana National Bank to a home for two principal business owners, additional long-term business residents, and transitional work-space for freelancers or consultants.  The Design Bank offers a unique and flexible “community” space to assist in area development efforts by offering design resources, services, and training.

The Design Bank is the collaboration and effort of many organizations, including United North East CDC, LISC, Indianapolis Historic Preservation, and the  N.E. Corridor Quality of Life.

The bank “Lobby” (50 person seating) is a large flex space with 16′ ceilings, 120 sqft. platform w/ speaking podium , projection screens, and free WIFI.  The Design Bank is open daily from 9 a.m. till 7 p.m.  and is available past normal hours for scheduled events including fundraisers, community space, lectures, pop up space, and evening trainings.


* Design, 3D Printing& Entrepreneurship Curriculum

* Large Scale-Plotters, Laser and Vinyl Cutters, and 3D Printers

* Group and Private Work, Meeting and Special Event Spaces

* Resident Business Options

* For profit design focused business and professionals

* Event kitchen


w/purpose intern Jason Mitchke runs booth at local fair



The Mix – Commercially licensed rental kitchen

The Lobby – An elevated platform, training, main conference, and event area featuring advanced video presentation technology and casual work area. Daily and monthly membership rates are available.

The Vault – Print shop and maker space featuring 3D printers, large scale plotters, laser cutters and standard office productivity equipment and supplies.

Private Office - Studio B’s

Private Office - w/purpose + Puzzello private office


The Exchange – Available co working at shared desk and work spaces. The Design Bank’s lower level is dedicated to business or organizational residents in need of long-term suite-style space.


A. Providing young enterprises needed flexible work space. Leased space will provide professional and technology centered environment with a creative vibe for on the move start-ups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the self employed.

B. Delivering innovation through services and resources to the design community (e.g. Architectures, landscape architects, urban design, fashion designers) Our vision is to be a focused work space that supports a community of entrepreneurs in the same field – Design. We want to be a professional and community resource for designers, residents, developers,businesses, and municipalities who find value in the transferring and exchange of ideas through a community of like-minded people that learn from one another, socialize together,and help each other achieve shared goals. We see the Design Bank as being the spring board for public focused design – in real time.

C. Connecting ourselves to the City of Indianapolis. Being partners with local city organizations and initiatives ( Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, IndyCog, People for Urban Progress or N.E. Quality of Life) engages our design and neighborhood community with new program, grants and best practices.

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.