Top of The Charts: Gensler’s Alexander Hotel

Interior Design
Interior Design, Mark Fox


The Alexander hotel may have the only men’s room in the Midwest that sparkles like stardust. And against this stellar wall covering hangs Alien Landscape, a three-part photographic work that shows a father-son spaceman combo, dressed in absurd moon suits while cruising farm roads in a 1963 Mercury Meteor sedan, then gliding across a parking lot in a
shopping cart. We’re clearly not in Kansas anymore. Or Indiana, as it happens. With the museum like Alexander, Indianapolis joins the club of U.S. Cities where contemporary art brings cachet to emerging neighborhoods. (Think Chicago, New York, Los Angeles.) The hotel is in a former industrial zone once controlled by Eli Lilly and Company. Still headquartered across the street, the pharmaceutical giant provides its new neighbor with corporate guests to fill the 157 rooms—largely separate from the extended-stay apartments occupied by pro basketballers.

Gensler’s Chicago office built the Alexander for the Buckingham Companies. For interiors, the developer reached out to Gensler’s Houston-based principal Nancy Nodler. She began work even before dolce Hotels and resorts came onboard to manage the property, named after Alexander Ralston, the city planner who laid out downtown Indianapolis in the 19th century. Early involvement allowed Nodler to locate the lobby, bar, and conference center on two, clearing the ground level for income-generating restaurant and retail tenants. But loose ends remained. “We went with an overall neutral palette and museum-white walls, because we had to finish our construction documents and order the furnishings before we knew what the art would be,” she explains…