I just finished going through more than 1,500 photos from my trip to Spain and Portugal.  Many of the pictures were of the amazing buildings and fabulous architecture in these historic cities.   And so it was fun to spend an afternoon in Indianapolis looking at architecture.

While we don’t have 600 year old buildings dotting our landscape, we do some wonderful examples of 19th and 20th century architecture.   With special thanks to  Indiana Modern Committee of Indiana Landmarks I had a chance to take a closer look and learn some of the history behind six of Indy’s hidden Gems.

We started our tour at Barton Towers, Indy’s first public housing building.  Built in the 1960’s, it is still well maintained, and is an integral part of the Mass Avenue experience.

This is a great example of Brutalist  style, simple, linear, and fortress like, yet with subtle elements that make it beautiful as well.

It is easy to walk past this building on Mass Ave and never look up.  But if you do, you will miss the wonderful surprise at the top, the observation deck which separates the one and two bedroom apartments.

Next stop, was Riley Towers.   This set of  two buildings was supposed to be part of a ten building community designed to encourage more urban living in Indianapolis.

Still the tallest residential buildings in the city, the towers were clearly designed for a very different style of living then Barton.

Built in 1962 the towers were never fully leased until 1992 so the rest were never  built.   Now at almost full occupancy, it is clear these buildings and the idea of urban living were simply ahead of their time.

While a few of the apartments have been updated, with the walls of the old style galley kitchens knocked out for a more open feel, the majority are still very similar to the way they looked 50 years ago.

My guess it is not the layout, but the view, which attracts people to the top floors of the tower and the small terraces which make you feel like you are living in the clouds.

Also on the walking tour was the Chase Tower and City County Building.  Both wonderful but very different examples International design.  Both towers display the  sleek, modern glass and steel styling common among buildings with the International influence, yet each has adapted the styling to fit in with their placement in the city.

The Chase Tower gently curves, which allows it to blend nicely with the other buildings on the circle while still retaining it’s very European feel. In contrast the City County Building combines several of my favorite features – the tall modern glass and steel tower balanced by the two shorter stone buildings in the classic Indiana coloring.

In between the official tour, I enjoyed photographing many of Indy’s other really cool buildings, look for another post in the weeks to come.  Till then, get out, walk around and enjoy our wonderful city!