New Alexander Hotel puts focus on art

The hotel has 14 commissioned installations and 24 other original works spread throughout the public areas.

The city's newest hotel, the Alexander, welcomed its first guests Monday afternoon. After checking in, they had plenty to check out.

The Alexander is state of the art in more ways than one. It's part of City Way, an upscale residential/retail development at South and Delaware Streets just north of the Eli Lilly campus.

Scott Travis, with Buckingham Companies which developed the site, said a key difference between the Alexander and other hotels in Indianapolis is "we have a significant investment in art. Our art program was specifically designed for this hotel. So, every single piece was selected or curated with the assistance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art."

The hotel has 14 commissioned installations and 24 other original works spread throughout the public areas.

The pieces include a large sculpture of Indiana businesswoman Madame CJ Walker composed of 3,840 combs. Another wall installation is comprised of vinyl records cut out and formed in the shape of birds taking flight from a phonograph.

Several of the records feature the work of Indiana recording artists, such as the Jackson Five and Cole Porter.

There are also two video installations. One is located in a skywalk leading from the parking garage to the hotel. It's called "Electronic Garden," and is comprised of several video screens with changing images and pulsating music.

The hotel's general manager, Michael Moros said it's all intended to add to the experience.

"It's not just hang on the wall art, but many different components of sight, sound and feeling," said Moros.

You'll even find art in the restrooms and "graffiti" in the parking garage. It's not the work of vandals, but a well-known artist.

The hotel incorporates a lot of local history, too. It's named for Ralston Alexander, who platted the city of Indianapolis. The Alexander was built above the 99th plat, hence the name for the second-floor bar, Plat 99.

Playing off that, Cuban-American sculptor Jorge Pardo designed 99 hanging lamps for the bar, Moros said, "all handmade, all different."

He noted the various meeting rooms are named for Indianapolis neighborhoods, I.E. one is Cole Noble, another is Chatham Arch.

The large green space off South Street also contains some city history. Several short walls, appropriate for sitting on, were made from limestone excavated from the site. The landscape also includes rails from the old tracks that once ran thru the area.

"We really believe in being part of the community," Moros said. "Buckingham Companies has been here since 1984."

Moros expects the clientele to be 65% corporate, catering to nearby Rolls Royce, WellPoint and Eli Lilly, which invested in the development. But he expects leisure travelers will be drawn to the hotel as well, with it and the rest of the development ultimately featuring at least seven restaurants, plus retail

Pat King, an Indianapolis-based travel blogger, who checked in Monday gave it the thumbs up.

"I like the art work," she said. "they put a lot of thought into it. It's not your typical sculptures or paintings."

King said it also "opens up another section of downtown to look at."

Chances are there will be plenty of people eager to check it out, even if they don't check in.