Head Over Heels: Why Indy Has Our Hearts

Axis Architecture Blog Post

We used to make our own valentines using construction paper, sequins, and too much glue. Each Valentine’s Day, we’d take them to school and drop them into shoeboxes covered with as much tinfoil as our mothers allowed. Back then, we didn’t believe in “too much glue.” We didn’t know the LEGOs we played with and the dollhouses we decorated would evolve into a career, either. We had yet to fall in love, and had no idea that, someday, Indianapolis would also have a place in our hearts.

Thanks to Amazon HQ2 news, Visit Indy’s State of Tourism address, and accolades like “Most Underrated Food City,” there’s been a lot of love for Indianapolis. But the Crossroads of America has more than a top-notch convention center and No. 1 airport. We’ve got a thriving downtown, the world’s largest children’s museum, and an ever-expanding list of hybrid restaurants. There are lots of things: big things, small things, everything.

We could shout our love for the Cultural Trail from the rooftops. It energizes us, connects us. It’s where we walk our dogs and go for pre-work workouts. It’s where we spend our Saturday mornings, too – strolling from Wildwood to Calvin Fletcher’s to Amelia’s. (We’ll take two of every croissant, please.) And while we love the hustle and bustle of late afternoon, the quiet hours of early morning are beautiful, too. When our feet hit the Trail in the gray glove of morning, we feel at home.

We’re also big fans of Indy’s museums, monuments, and cultural institutions. (Here’s looking at you, Newfields.) The center of our city – the Soldiers and Sailors Monument – is also at the center of our hearts. During the warmer months, we eat our lunches on the steps, shoulders warmed by the summer sun. We never miss the annual Strawberry Festival, either, or pass up the opportunity to people-watch.

Really, that’s what makes this city what it is – the people. The Hoosier hospitality. The fact we’re a big small town where everyone knows everyone. All the same, our urban core ensures there is always something new to try, a different place to explore. As the author of “Chronicles of a Transit Planner” – Austin Gibble – said, “Indianapolis is large enough to have an urban scene, but small enough in which a handful of passionate individuals can make a real impact.”

It’s true.

One of the things we truly appreciate about our city is that – whether you’re an Indy native or an Indy transplant – there’s a niche for you. Axis team members aren’t just architects and designers. We’re also runners, cyclists, motorcyclists, book club leaders, coffee drinkers, whiskey sippers, referees, music lovers, church-goers, comedians, mentors, board members, partners, and parents.

So, what makes family life possible?

The low cost of living, for starters. Even for those of us who are downtown dwellers, our budgets have room for “quality of life” activities. We take our kids to Eagle Creek or to the Broad Ripple farmers’ market. We meet our friends for drinks, attend concerts at White River State Park, and introduce our friends to Tex Mex – the taco place tucked inside an East Street gas station.

No, Indy isn’t perfect. But that’s what we love about it – its imperfections. As Ken Honeywell highlighted in his open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Indianapolis is “not sitting on [its] hands … we’re working on the flaws we see and bringing to light the less obvious, more insidious ones so we can work on those, too.”

Like increasing the number of bike lanes. Creating affordable housing for teachers. Maintaining diversity and economic accessibility. Believing that Indianapolis deserves high-end design.

But there are some things our city has that others don’t – #thatgoldbuilding, for instance. Wordsmiths Kurt Vonnegut, James Whitcomb Riley, and Booth Tarkington. Indianapolis is second only to Washington, D.C. when it comes to acreage and monuments dedicated to veterans. And we earned the nickname “Crossroads of America” for a reason – our proximity to Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Columbus (both Ohio and Indiana) is something we don’t take for granted.

Perhaps what we love most are our respective neighborhoods. Axis folk live both downtown and around town – in apartments, in 100-year-old brick homes, in mid-century builds. Each of our neighborhoods – from Woodruff Place to Meridian-Kessler to Devonshire – has a distinct personality. We’ve enjoyed seeing them transform over the years, and are eager to see how the overall city will evolve. Because we have, wholly and irrevocably, fallen in love with Indianapolis.