Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Reason for Pride

This week I came across a 1958 newspaper article bragging about the bright future of modern architecture in Indianapolis.  Yes, that's right, in the 1950s there was good reason to be optimistic that Indianapolis might become one of the nation's showcases of modernism.

Two office buildings and a beautiful limestone-skinned J. C. Penney store by Skidmore Owings and Merrill were already completed or under construction; a glass curtain-wall City-County tower with limestone wings would open in 1961; a new State Office building by the Chicago firm, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White was scheduled to break ground, a complex of high rise apartment buildings by Perkins + Will, and a handful of other great projects were in the works or recently completed in the city.

Here's how we felt about our new buildings in 1958.  [double-click on images to enlarge].

Sadly, by the early 1960s the excitement over urban renewal, and apparently the federal dollars that helped pay for it, were drying up, leaving Indianapolis with a few good buildings but not much architectural future to count on. I'm not a fan of disrespecting Indianapolis, which is a trendy thing to do among the people who live here, but I'd like a good reason, like a few interestingly modern buildings, to make me and others feel really prideful in the city's architectural future again. Maybe that will happen.


  1. Connie,
    Thank you for this find and share. You inspire me to look closer. I find it amazing how many set of eyes we have in our city...and how most can't see. We are not incapable of great futures, we only have a hard time imagining them. Starting with our Mayor - vision has been lacking for some time.

  2. Wil, I agree that we don't try hard to see much. It seems that Indianapolis has done a lot of settling in order to not make waves. I think the city has an inferiority complex and should shake off the concerns about its image and reach for some architecture that inspires conversation and controversy. I hope you architect types help to make it so.