What do you get someone for their 200th birthday?

Tough decision, right? Evansville’s art and design community showed up to the party with a newly dedicated outdoor gallery and sculpture park located in south-central Evansville.

Not a bad way to kick off the bicentennial.  As if that wasn’t enough, inside the card was an additional $46,000 in cash prizes for winners of Sculpt EVV, a juried outdoor public sculpture event located in the Haynie’s Corner Art District.

Moreover, it was the first of many steps to bolster support and show commitment to the districts art-filled future.

In an effort to actively promote and enhance Evansville’s art and design future, the Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) established a unique redevelopment area and overlay for the Haynie’s Corner Art District, an area of about 50 square blocks of mostly residential uses with a commercial core.

Additionally, the City of Evansville selected Indianapolis based w/Purpose to collaborate on urban strategy efforts in Haynie’s Corner, which includes leading the urban branding initiative, a process by which the identity of the community is established and marketed in a creative and cohesive fashion.

w/Purpose actively worked alongside residents to incorporate place-making strategies bent on changing attitudes and perceptions about the District. What came out of that process was a fun video trailer, logo, and various signage and banners. When asked about the future of Haynie’s Corner, w/Purpose principal Wil Marquez said, “We want to work alongside our community partners to develop something that will be edgy while stretching resident’s minds. Our gift or flavor (“flava”) on design, will be an experience we look forward to sharing.”

Residents and interested parties of Haynie’s Corner Art District are encouraged to attend an Open House in April.  The Urban Living Center at Haynie’s Corner will host an Open House from 3-7 pm on Saturday April  22, 2014 at 58 Adams, Evansville IN.

Join w/purpose Principal Wil Marquez, Ken Haynie, and Phil Hooper to help kick off the brand story of the Art District at 6 pm.

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 (wpurpose.com) 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.


Knowledge & Recreation

In his book The Production of Space, theorist and author, Henri Lefebvre calls for a “restoration of concern for the body”. He, like our team, believes space should be experienced through all senses and be responsible for our growth and welfare.

If the growth of our city is to be further encouraged – we should look to its adaptability to help accommodate for the stimulation of those senses. The Circle’s history from landscape, political homestead, and now monument reflect that growth and responsibility to those future citizens – our children. W/purpose principal Wil Marquez and Omar Munante entered this competition offering a solution that considers those children.

We understand public space in Indianapolis works best under two conditions – Knowledge and Recreation.  Our concept represents a  solution that enhances that experience for our city and its future.  After visiting the site multiple times, we were fascinated by its dynamics, complexity, and honesty.  Our elevated platform occupies a middle space in the circle that we believe will refresh Market Street and realize its identity looking east towards a future in the redevelopment of Market Square. This ecologically charged corridor will attract, welcome, and direct people to a new place enriched with a wonderful history. The idea of knowledge will invite existing and new visitors to a museum dedicated to peace – as to develop a better understanding of the existing monuments history and complexity. A flexible open space is transformative and leaves a lot of room for programs that range from concerts to ice skating.  The addition of this type of recreation will increase pedestrian circulation and increased programs for our cities nexus.

Vehicular transportation will be shifted as to increase new retail spaces that are pedestrian friendly and give preference to public transportation. Access will be limited by directing vehicles West coming North on Meridian Street and East coming South on Meridian Street.  Vehicles will be directed North traveling West into the Circle and vehicles traveling East into the Circle will be directed South on to Meridian Street

The Rose that Grew from the Concrete – A New Urban Pavilion for Concord

Just South of Downtown Indianapolis, the community of Concord has reason to believe that instances of unexpected growth happen in the most unusual of places. These local miracles are powerful efforts whose purpose is not only clear, but extremely hard to argue against.

“We want to bring good food, to people who need it,” exclaimed Amy Matthews, Concord Community Development Corporation Farm Manager and local entrepreneur.  Her commitment to transform this South side community one seed at a time seemed impossible at first. Adjacent to multiple scrap yards and surrounded by questionable soil conditions, the property the Concord CDC had their eye out for had big plans according to Matthews.

A proposed scrap yard expansion that included a fabulous downtown view.

Determined to shift this reality, Matthews and Concord CDC Director Mark Flanary figured out that “growing roses in the cracks of concrete” are just the type of civic efforts that not only accomplish bringing good food to people who need it, but also inspire others to celebrate their community and its successes despite some damaged petals.

Encouraged by Concord and their commitment, w/purpose has teamed with People for Urban Progress to design and fabricate a tent pavilion that represents not just a new future for Concord, but a different way to experience urban space – a hybrid condition whose function shares both private & public goods. The Concord Farm Pavilion will operate primarily as an outdoor educational environment, as well as, work station for various sorting and handling of farm goodness. Its initial concept uses lightweight DOME material as an organic form and landmark lluminaire for all to enjoy and at all hours. As the design team moves towards developing the Pavilions character and final design, we look forward to working with Amy and the Concord neighborhood.

And what of the downtown view you ask? Oh…it will be priceless.

The Rose that Grew from Concrete
by Lesane Parish Crooks (a.k.a. Tupac Shakur )

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned how to walk without having feet
Funny it seems but, by keeping its dreams
it, learned to breathe FRESH air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared
No one else even cared.
The rose that grew from concrete

You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete
had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity.





Smith: Ideas to enliven Monument Circle came flooding in

Erika SmithIndianapolis Star
April 19th, 2011

Ideas to enliven Monument Circle came flooding in

One of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is sit on Monument Circle and read a book.

I almost always draw strange looks and, for the life of me, I can never figure out why. Monument Circle has the potential to be a truly great public space — a place where people don’t just drive around in cars or walk through, but actually stay for a few hours and hang out. This is clear to me even with all of the construction that’s going on now, including restoration work on the century-old Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

If we do this right, the Circle could be the linchpin of a newly walkable, bikeable and sustainable Indianapolis. But building such a city has to be a group effort with some consensus on what we want our public spaces to be and the role we want them to play.

So I was happy to hear that Indianapolis Downtown Inc. (IDI) received more that 60 proposals for its Monument Circle Idea Competition. The deadline was Friday.

IDI’s president, Tamara Zahn, said Monday that she hadn’t looked closely at the proposals yet, but they seem to run the gamut. People weighed in on everything from traffic patterns to the museum under the monument.

“We’re very impressed by the quality of the submittals,” she said.

Many proposals came from architects and urban designers in Central Indiana. Others came from as far away as Spain and Turkey.

In a few days, six judges will begin to pare the list of proposals. By mid-June, a handful will be posted on the Circle to gather public comment. At the end of June, IDI will announce the top four proposals — three picked by the judges and one by the public.

Chances are none of these specific proposals will become reality in terms of revamped concrete, stone, steel and lighting on the Circle.

This is an idea competition, after all, and the main goal is to start a dialogue in the community.

It’s a way to figure out the common themes of what people value. Or, more specifically, it’s a way to find out what people are willing to pay for when it comes to this type of development.

Do we want more shops? Kiosks? More sculptures? Bigger fountains?

Weekly concerts? A stage for theatrical performances in the summer? An outdoor ice rink in the winter?

“This is nothing more than a great public relations strategy to get the public informed on what public space is,” said Wil Marquez, founder of the urban public design firm w/purpose.

The thinking is that if people get involved and push for what they want, then they’ll take ownership and actually use the public space they create.

“You go to the Circle, and it’s just a monument,” said Marquez, whose firm entered the competition. “How do you sort of inject it with some juice to get people to want to stay?”

The answer to that question won’t affect only Monument Circle.

Zahn said it also will help determine what happens to Georgia Street, now undergoing a major overhaul, after next year’s Super Bowl and perhaps to other public spaces in the city.

Public spaces are important to the city’s vitality. And they will become increasingly important as the city looks at new, sustainable ways to grow. Ways that complement Mayor Greg Ballard’s announcement Monday that 63 miles of bike lanes will be added in the city by the end of the year.

“This is the year when you’ll see many of the connections made,” Ballard said.

I’m glad we’re starting with the Circle.

Call Star columnist Erika D. Smith at (317) 444-6424, send e-mail to erika.smith@indystar.com, or reach her on Twitter @indystar_erika or @beyond_big_game.