Made in Indiana – Tomlinson Tap Room

Walking out of our first meeting, it was clear that “MADE IN INDIANA” would be the underlying campaign in honoring not just Indiana beers, but also honoring a narrative on Indiana craft, community space, and creativity.  There is often an enormous commitment in suggesting an All-Hoosier design experience in an Historic Public Market,  especially these days, as many Black Friday shoppers waited in long lines to purchase NOT MADE IN INDIANA products. Framed under these conditions, I wanted to answer a question that is on everyone’s mind:

“Can a Hoosier themed Craft Beer Bar save the City Market?”

I say no…but wait!


Festival Marketplace Syndrome

Prior to any real design work, it was important that I referenced Erik Ledbetter’s short article called: Rethinking Adaptive Reuse, or, How Not to Save a Great Urban Terminal. In the web article he describes the downfall of Woollen, Molzan and Partners Festival Marketplace at the Historic Indianapolis Union Station and suggests several factors that play into how not to save an historic urban structure.

Ledbetter explained, “Station shopping malls and festival marketplaces do best when the station is also still a station.”

What Ledbetter is saying, is that in most cases it is helpful to develop big ideas that help the public market retain its function as – a public market. Suggesting then, that anything else may invite the Market to be something it is not (like a fast food market). The leadership at our Indianapolis City Market has done a wonderful job as of late setting the tone for a creative and  responsible strategy that supports the City Market’s original purpose

Tomlinson is far more than a bar. It is a bar at our Public Market.  I’m entertained by its history, scale, movement, depth, an detail. The buildings weight and age emotionally scale the space so its digestible.  With only conversation and people around you, I can see how Tomlinson Tap Room will be a welcomed partner in promoting ideas of gathering,  politics, story telling, and community.

This idea of building a community around craft beer, was spearheaded by community table Operations Czar, Vicki Higuera, who confidently described the “communal table” as the physical objects that would act as the “mojo”  for where people would gather, meet, or exchange. They were to be an extension of the main bar and would need to carry the same potential of inviting strangers to toast or celebrate, like a community.

The pine beams and boards for the communal tables and cooler wall were located in Southeast, Indiana. A small local  business that recently found a niche with demolition and reclamation of materials from demolished factories or buildings. When I arrived there, a crew of workers were stacking pallets of full sized bricks that came from an demolished early 1900’s building.  The pallets of bricks (#’s in the X,000’s), were on their way to a New Orleans housing development for re-installation. I was shocked.

w/purpose teamed with artists and fabricators  Nick Allman and  Centerline Studio. We hand selected six (3″ x 9.5″ x 21′) pine beams that were in so many words – thick & solid.  It was an awesome find. I knew immediately that we had located the right stock. It had original stain and soot from 1913 Muncie Steel & Wire Factory.  Their 3″ depth was necessary to not suggest, but impose a nudge as an invitation.  Their 8′-0″ length were what we all wanted in tables to represent appropriate extensions from the bar.  Steel I-beam columns, rod details, and straps help accentuate the bars identity and character.

Graphic and communication newcomers, CODO Design Group promoted their “Hands-on Branding” process which produced a powerful and appropriate brand that played a significant part in the tables concept design.  With no bar photo, rendering, or  finish swatches available, the communal tables were left to reference only the existing architecture and identity package.  Tomlinson’s stamped type face, color, placement and details all move well with the overall composition of the space.

So you see…the Tomlinson Tap Room is an overwhelming yes. I will go on record saying that it will be a success as a viable social space that goes to the heart of  Urban Design in Indianapolis. It alone, will not save the City Market. Do you know what will?

If we all bought 1 growler for someone this Holiday.  The result of keeping it real…in a very public space.

Happy Holidays