Over ten years ago the Near West side of Indianapolis presented itself as an area in early transition.  By researching its rich and diverse past, it was clear that the phenomenon of being lost and rediscovered is very much part of the Near West narrative.  In considering my own story with the area, I am reminded that this Indianapolis community has never been motionless, but always non-stop.  Its transformation directly connected to the expansion of mobility.The development of leftover spaces like “Non Stop” Station position a community on the verge of major change by reinforcing a strong identity and extending local stake in exchange for advocacy, labor, or clean-up.It is during this process that new knowledge is exchanged and “expert” residents commit to organized cultural/identity programs, connectivity efforts, and development futures.  For w/purpose, the icons for mobility (Car/Train) are ideal representations of decentralized modes of cultural. We hope to continue to connect new cultural centers throughout the Near West community.

Purpose Park: 2014 re:Purpose 5×5 Winner from People For Urban Progress on Vimeo.



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.


In 2013, w/purpose collaborated with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, IndyGO, Arlington High School, City Departments, local utilities, developers and residents to transform an outdated transit stop in Indy’s N.E. Corridor. w/purpose designed a creative transit experience and worked to secure a Project Green Space Grant through KIB to execute work. Overall, this 30K public transit stop made a tremendous impact in this N.E. community and has become an example to other communities. The w/purpose team demonstrated our experience leading a team of community members, design professionals, and content partners in accomplishing an action item in the neighborhood plan.

The projects “site specific appeal” lies in its use of local reclaimed materials from the historic Hoosier Dome and Bush Stadium. The new transit stop showcase new plantings, a water reclamation system, and additional seating.


PATTERN Magazine Vol. 12 Fall 2017

Interview by Jami Stall

Talking shop with Wil Marquez is like listening to an energetic Dalai Lama of Design.

The 40-year-old architect speaks with a unique balance of enthusiasm, warmth, and inspiration. He layers his language with careful insight, honed from seventeen years of architectural prowess. And he constructs his narrative with passion, emphasizing more than once the importance of “bringing people together.”

“Celebrate a community’s arts and cultural assets around a collective space that serves its local needs, and that will reinforce the connectivity among residents,” he says.

A specialist in urban design, his portfolio bulges with impressive projects that began when he worked for big firms during his days in Dubai and Morocco. These days Marquez’s philosophy on the future of design and placemaking appears in various publications, books, and biogs. And his speaking engagements pack lecture halls at renowned universities (from Tuskegee, Alabama, to Buenos Aires) and at conferences and professional organizations around the globe.

But he gets most excited telling folks about his work with young people and “contributing his skill set to more meaningful and relevant environments” – like the neighborhoods here at home -in Indiana.”For a long time I thought that changing the world through architecture meant designing buildings, but to just say I’m an architect who sits in a cubicle and draws drawings, that’s not what I’m about,” he says. “I’m a designer, a creator; I’m curious and an agitator. I’m still loyal to architecture, but I also sort of stand on the outside of that ring and look inward and say, ‘What can we do to make this profession more available to the masses?'”

For one thing, he thinks architecture should be more publicly engaging and equitable. In 2009 Marquez founded the consulting company, “w/purpose,” which specializes in architecture services for clients who believe that good design can make a difference in both their lives and in the lives of others. His creative studio devises nontraditional solutions for homes, interior designs, public art, streetscapes, retail centers, and learning environments.

His concepts extend beyond sticks and bricks. “It’s not just about the buildings, but also the spaces between them,” he says. “That’s also architectural space.” He thinks architects need to talk to people about ways a building can perform for the inhabitants inside, but also for what’s going on outside. As for his own designs, some of Marquez’s brightest sparks ignite in blighted communities. Examples include a colorful bus-stop collaboration with Arlington High School students, a pocket park created with public art installations, and a chic apartment building resurrected from an abandoned candy factory. W/Purpose partnered with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to construct Purpose Park at Holmes and W. Washington streets. The little greenspace packs an artful punch with its bright-yellow1 1964 Pontiac Bonneville positioned upright on its nose as a centerpiece. As the lead designers, w/purpose also helped transform the vacant Homer J. Williamson Chocolate Factory into The Overlook at the Fairgrounds – the new $14 million, 4-story mixed-use building at 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway. One of Marquez’ ongoing passions includes the Design Bank at E. 38th street, which he and cofounder NaShara Mitchell renovated. It now stands as a twenty-first-century, hands-on learning center, featuring 3-D printers, scanners, and a design curriculum. “We thrive at educating people in general. I’m committed to these things – to public space and cities that are committed to art and design, and to kids doing their work.

They need platforms to do their most creative work. We want to develop those platforms.” Additional projects on the books for Marquez include creating a makerspace for a Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, a 48,000-square-foot concept design for a community center in South Bend, and the master plan development for Evansville’s Main Street Cl.9-square-mile neighborhood – the North Main corridor). And though his work keeps him crisscrossing the map, Marquez’ roots remain in the 317. “I’ve been here 20 years, and I’ve made a commitment to dig my feet in and stay committed to the city,” he says.

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.

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.

Soft touch for an Industrial Space

You may asking yourself, “What does a fashion studio have to do with urban or public design”? Great question. The answer is – Everything.

Creative Play is a phrase I use to describe our process in design. In that process, understanding neighborhood or urban development means participating at various scales of design thinking and finding creative ways that unusual elements might go together. The opportunity to work along side local fashion diva  Nikki Blaine was just the type of experience I simply didn’t want to pass up on.

The twist here is that while retail storefront property is the preferred logic in business 101 (and the most visible); Local community venues/incubators (i.e. Stutz or Murphy buildings) are attracting new generations of artists, fabricators, and non-profits (like Nikki Blaine) who co-habitat in large industrial buildings.  Their popularity is not just tied to their hip industrial affect, affordability, or location. Their value lies in the opportunity to exchange services and knowledge in an environment where it is highly encouraged.  The ability to share resources and then openly display those ideas every first Friday makes these complexes a unique solution to consider when thinking about urban regeneration.

In the Windsor Park community, the Circle City Complex may be considered by some to be a bit hard to digest or understand as a gateway. Or maybe not? Its colorful blue skin says very little about the dynamic group of hipsters, organizations, and fabricators inside the complex (enter – don’t judge a book by its cover). We have to imagine that the next big idea, multi-million dollar business, or store front tenant may evolve out of places such as these re-purposed buildings. The opportunity to work with Nikki gave us an inside view about how tenants use these spaces, their versatility, and budget. As the brainchild of Nikki Blaine Coutour, her imagination and business sensibilities asked w/purpose to help her with a downtown space to support growing client demand – all while sending a few emails, measuring a bride, or taking a quick call.  Her studio space, which really only opens every First Friday, needed to be minimal in its representation, but a strong in how it linked a space between what her fans saw online and when they might see it on a rack – true “couture”.

Her studio at the Circle City Industrial Complex on Brookside Avenue will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and fashion industry in our community. She will be joining Exodus, Wug Laku Studios, Nick Allman, and Nancy Lee – all wonderful artists and organizations in our city (see Nuvo for complete list of artists)

Its official opening will be on August 5th, 2011.