The Ingredients

Several weeks ago w/purpose Founder Wil Marquez had an opportunity to travel to Tuskegee University in Alabama to speak to architecture students and faculty about w/purpose, its advocacy, and practice.  Needing time to focus and prep his talk, Marquez stopped in our Nation’s Capital – Washington D.C. Afterall, he thought, “it’s the right spot to start if you’re going to consider the bigger themes behind democracy, new knowledge, and change.”

Walking from Union Station to the National Mall, Marquez observed construction of a beautiful metal tapestry and luminary by architect David Adjaye. The National Museum of African American History and Culture will open its doors the public next year. “Its purpose, culture, and meaning are elegant and legible,” Marquez noted. Curious about the projects background and architecture, Marquez read an interview with Architecture Lab, where Adjaye positions the building’s advocacy and public ambition.

“What’s interesting to me is this idea of fabric and weaving as a kind of abstraction of making places that people come together in,” – David Adjaye

“I felt that same way when I walked around Tuskegee’s Campus…it very much is a place that people come together in,” Marquez expressed.  His message to students was to consider the value behind an “advocacy” specialization that brings people along or positions design professionals as expert citizens, community educators, systems strategists, or savvy entrepreneurs.  Earlier last month, Marquez shared a similar message at a Young Architects Forum event in Indianapolis. He joined a platform including Archinect Contributor Donna Sink, AIA, and Ball State Professors Josh Cogishall, RA and Janice Shimizu, RA to discuss larger social -ish goals and norms that “activist” or “alternative” architects often contemplate.  The event ended with talk around the need for architecture to include multiple points of entry and how to educate the public about its contribution.

It is a topic that is personal for Marquez. His public design studio celebrated its fifth year in business this October and prides itself as a novel option for young architects seeking a higher purpose and do good style of practice.

Marquez is seeing a lot of movement around these ideas of new practice, design, advocacy, and knowledge. He applauds efforts like AIA’s recent lobby around student loan forgiveness as a step in recognizing those book of deeds and design efforts that keep the profession relevant in our society.

A recent article by Dominic Mercier for Architect Magazine, Architect Mattia Flabiano III, AIA  commented on this trend to bring the profession along:

I believe architects need to boost their advocacy efforts. Flabiano continues, “Advocacy has a huge impact on the business of architecture, but I don’t think that all architects understand that,” he says.

“We’re trained to be good listeners, we work collaboratively in groups, we look at all ideas, and we’re problem-solvers. We have not been as loud in the communities because we’re too busy practicing our trade, as opposed to advocating for our profession and what we do to enhance people’s lives.”

After 15 years in the field of architecture, Wil Marquez wants design professionals to take more action towards organizing and designing systems that bind people together.  He hopes students and practitioners consider an attitude that makes meaning from public knowledge. A courageous position that invites design professionals to avoid “fountainheading” tactics that only value individual /professional advancements ahead of the needs of citizens and communities. “It can’t always be about flashy forms and buildings – but building something inclusive and just that brings design closer to its inhabitants”, explained Marquez. Sometimes it is just about the right ingredients for bringing people together.

What are those ingredients you asked?

Inspired by Big Democracy project, they are simple:







Many thanks to Tuskegee professors Rod Fluker, Jack Ames, Tom Kaufmann, and the Alabama State Board of Architects for the invitation and opportunity.



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


Think | Believe | Imagine

In 2010 w/purpose was invited by a colleague to lead an urban design workshop with students at Isthmus Norte – an architecture school located in downtown Chihuahua.  Located appropriately in a state which shares its name – Chihuahua.

This was my first official visit to the Country of Mexico, as qualifying a visit to San Diego suburb Tijuana was hardly justifiable. The invitation to this historic city came at an ideal time as frigid temperatures had just settled in Indianapolis. As part of my workshop the hidden assets of Chihuahua would play host to a number of student inspired projects highlighting opportunities along retail corridors, informal markets, abandoned parks, and under highways.

The first part of the workshop was simple. We walked and talked.  The second part was a bit more complex – in fact it unfolded in this way:

A. Visit the tallest building in Chihuahua, which happens to be its Government Center

B. Request permission for a small group to have access to the roof with cameras and complete stranger from Midwest.

A day later we were escorted by armed military to the roof! It was a slightly uncomfortable trip to the top, as our  escort weighed in heavily on the dangers & potential pitfalls we may face traveling in and out of Chihuahua towards Juarez/El Paso.

Climbing a narrow ships ladder one by one, Chihuahua native Alejandra Dominguez and several of her architecture classmates reached the top. A totally new experience for these students as they absorbed an alternative perspective of their city – a new way to consider the urban form.  For Ms. Dominguez it meant a final design program for a youth learning space adjacent to an underpass and storm water canal.

In reviewing Alejandra’s blog – I was introduced to an graphic background that highlights words like “Think”, “Be”, “Imagine”, “Live”, “Love”, “Believe” “Dream” and “Create”. All words which I believe help in helping cities and its residents. Her projects are honest and with much merit. She explains in a letter sent to me:

“What fascinates me most about architecture is its social element. Architecture cannot be done without carefully considering the social and physical context of place and the role it plays in transforming a city”.

W/purpose welcomes Ms. Alejandra Dominguez to Indianapolis to host her educational residency. We look forward to her energy as she focuses on 38th Street Inter Urban Greenway Visioning and several other projects I believe could use some high level of thinking, imagination, love, and creativity.  Bienvenidos a Indianapolis.

Near West Housing Summit

The Near West is revamping their Quality of Life plan for 2012-2015.  Over past couple of years, we have noticed that the housing condition of Near West has changed drastically.  The situation of our housing stock has raised concerns with residents, community partners, and potential homeowners.  In our current Quality of Life plan, it focused on increasing the number of renovated and new affordable homes, which faltered due to the economy.  Near West would like to become proactive with the housing conditions of Near West, within our next Quality of Life plan, we would like to provide new innovative ideas and strategies in a form of a housing strategy that will include input from home owners, realtors, developers, and community partners.

Will Marquez of W/Purpose Design ( will be our facilitator.  He is currently facilitating neighborhood planning events with residents for UNECDC and Devington Communities Association and has a complete body of work here in Indianapolis.

The meeting will be held on August 23rd from 11 am until 2pm.  The location will be held at the Haughville Library.


What’s In A Name? The Case For a New Georgia Street

There are visible signs that our city slowly manicuring its look as it prepares for the 2012 Super Bowl. At the top of that list East & West Georgia Street, which is showing signs of regeneration. A complete transformation and welcome addition to the downtown Whole Sale District, whose new look will focus on pedestrians, water management, and managed activities. Oh yes…Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis will be a horse of a different color – including outdoor dining, open performances, vending space, and public art.

Considering all that, you might say that things are looking good for ‘Ol Georgia Street, right?

Recent concerns by city officials, urbanists, and downtown leaders about the Georgia side of the historic three block street is being challenged, amidst concerns that the Southern State may create brand confusion for the city – or worst, create confusion in front of a televised Super Bowl audience. This isn’t the first time Indianapolis has said good-bye to other historic names – as Tennessee (now State Street)  & Mississippi (now Capital Street) all suffered a similar fate – expulsion from our city streets.

Charged with tackling this alleged confusion? Indianapolis Downtown Inc. who sought the expertise of  local advertising & design teams to better understand the future of “Georgia Street” and its potential as a new semi-public space in our city.


las Rambas //

Inspired by Las Rambas, a famous street in Barcelona, the design could be considered a hybrid of sorts – combining a “Boardwalk” meets “Street Rail Car” type attitude whose programmatic motivation is simple and sustainable -  a  pedestrian focused urban space between downtown Conseco Field House and the Indianapolis Convention Center.

In this spirit, a diverse group of creative people, were invited to help narrow in on some big ideas about our cities newest downtown addition. In collaboration w/ So Design & Consultancy, our submission described a unique way to frame the personality of an urban space. “Over/Time”, as we referred to it, is a subtle yet flexible brand identifier that promotes the corridors flexibility and potential to grow into a cities culture.  We  focused on developing a simple concept where logic is featured over image – allowing the spaces organization to be the immediate stimulus and space identity to follow that. We wanted to also be sure that “Over Time” be communicated across multiple layers while referencing the idea of social culture, time, economy, and athletics.

Street Logic

A recent controversy surrounding the proposed Public Art for the Cultural Trail has many citizens concerned about urban space, its equity, and purpose in our city. A series of free lectures were made available to the public to listen, learn, and ask questions about urban space, parks, or where we live and spend our time.

Street Logic was the second in a two part lecture series.  The first lecture was by Dr. Kirk Savage author of “Monument Wars” and “Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves” Race, War, and Monument in the Nineteenth Century America. His lecture was an eye opener for many in the audience and uncovered many details that were missed by multiple stakeholders, artists, and citizens. His lecture (see blog) on the history and meaning of the slave “image” set the stage for Street Logic – a lecture that would explores “image”  and the history of urban space through the lens of architecture and Hollywood.

Marquez, whose thesis research focused on issues of architecture and identity, questions the design of “cultural” in the United States and its meaning for communities and neighborhoods. His work on West Washington Street in Indianapolis, Mexican Town in Detroit, and Huntington Park in California called to question the need for “culture” and the dangers it presents when commercialized or left in the wrong hands. Street Logic has been presented at multiple universities, including Southern Illinois University and the University of North Carolina to help citizens and students understand how and why “images” are misrepresented in cities, streets, and public spaces. An interactive media presentation- Marquez  frames the streets aesthetic, function, and ideology according to those who have the power to build images and those who do not.

The event was held on Saturday, April 30th at Forest Manor Multi-Service Center

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.