Bottleworks Hotel, Indianapolis
ARCHITECT: RATIO Architects
DEVELOPER: Hendricks Commercial Properties
OWNER/OPERATOR: Geronimo Hospitality Group
WINDOW DISTRIBUTOR: G-2 Architectural Products
WINDOW INSTALLER: National Glass & Hardware LLC
Julie Zent, historic window specialist for RATIO Architects, took on the intricate task of matching the 150-plus original wood windows that had once complemented the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant’s decorative exterior. Throughout the nearly two-year process, she worked with Dan Kovas of G-2 Architectural Products to orchestrate window design details, specifications, updates and product delivery.
All historical replications were sourced through Weather Shield whose team of architectural window specialists combined artistry and technical expertise to match original specifications while adding modern features.
To qualify for historic rehabilitation tax credits and receive local historic district approval, Zent coordinated with the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, Indiana State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service. The sign-off process called for close communication and cooperation because approvals at all three levels were essential.
For a project of this magnitude, the design team needed to create models in advance before production. Although most of the bottling-plant windows had been discarded in favor of low-cost replacements, a few of the originals remained in garages onsite. Dave Kroll, director of preservation for RATIO Architects, notes, “Although deteriorated, they were able to get accurate dimensions from those windows, which allowed us to eventually duplicate the design.”
“The exciting part of obtaining the artifact samples was that the Weather Shield crew initially created a plastic 3D printer replica of the wood components, so the architects could make modifications before we moved into the shop-drawing phase,” Kovas explains. “This added precision to the operation and ultimately accelerated the timeline for approval.”
Once the detailed side-by-side shop drawings of the original unit and the proposed replication were finalized, the Weather Shield team was able to create a full-sized mockup in its workshop.
The resulting design included three customized Weather Shield components—brick mould, sash lug and bottom sill. In addition, the team matched the original exterior Coca-Cola paint color and provided several historically accurate stains and colors for the various interior spaces, including a designer stain to match the paneled office spaces.
“The window replication process is complex. Fortunately, our local and state people worked well together to reach consensus. Discussion on changes often included up to nine people weighing the pros and cons and working toward resolution,” Zent explains.
One of those early discussions occurred at the mockup installation site, where a group of developers, architects and historical advisors gathered to view the product and compare the details to one of the original units. The side-by-side contrast created a then-and-now visual that displayed the craftsmanship that went into the beautiful replication. Onlookers were able to see the window as it looked nearly 100 years ago—with modern weatherproofing added to the design.
“Weather Shield pulled their team together so quickly to get the job done,” Kovas notes. “They were the first to produce a mockup, which allowed time for the various contributors to provide feed- back. Some minor tweaks were requested, but the core design was approved the first time around, which is seldom the case.”
Although the original windows were double-hung, the design team required the sashes to be fixed in place for climate-control purposes, whereas the garage windows were designed to be fully functional double-hung units. All specified product directives were completed at the manufacturing plant before shipping.
Zent notes: “Weather Shield provided 14 different sizes in four separate configurations. Due to the complexity of the terra-cotta restoration, openings varied in size throughout, resulting in subtle modifications to multiple units.”
Sean Edwards of National Glass & Hardware LLC worked with the window team from the early days of the mockup. His crew carefully removed the old units while working in tandem with terra-cotta artisans repairing any of the delicate crumbling components.
“The installation was implemented in phases as different portions of the façade neared completion,” Edwards recalls. “We installed the windows in various sizes, and all were extremely maneuverable. Weather Shield did a great job creating the right look to match the originals.”
HISTORIC-REPLICA WINDOW MANUFACTURER: Weather Shield
The 1930s-era Art Deco Indianapolis Coca-Cola Bottling Plant employed thousands of workers throughout some of the nation’s most turbulent decades. In the 1960s, when plant owners moved their expanding bottling operations to Speedway, Ind., they left behind one the city’s most beloved landmarks. After years of steady deterioration, Hendricks Commercial Properties saved the architectural gem and initiated a grand restoration project for the long-neglected Bottleworks District.
RATIO Architects transformed the fading North Mass Avenue property into a 139-room boutique hotel and garage food hall while resurrecting its past splendor. This anchor project launched Phase 1 of the much anticipated $300 million overhaul.
“We get into buildings that have been around for a long time for good reason—they are well-built and have served a significant and worthwhile purpose in society,” explains Dave Kroll, director of preservation for RATIO Architects. “We retain as many of the features and materials as possible and replicate what cannot be saved.”
The original Coca-Cola Bottling Plant and garages comprised the oldest and most lavish structures in the Bottleworks complex, and great care was taken to preserve the historical integrity of the design. One of the site’s most treasured features, the exquisite terra-cotta façade, had steadily deteriorated because of weathering and neglect. A team of specialty masons took painstaking efforts to repair and restore the exterior to its original grandeur—blending skill, patience and artisan wizardry.
In addition to the ornate exterior restoration, the RATIO Architects team designed the stunning Art Deco interior spaces, including an impeccably refurbished lobby filled with colorful polished tile and shining brass fixtures.
The hotel welcomed its first guests Dec. 15, 2020. The Garage Food Halls unveiled 14 restaurants and shops on Jan. 5, 2021.