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Cesar Pelli, Drawing, Indiana Tower, 1981

By Maeve Coudrelle | October 16, 2017
A black and white drawing of a towering obelisk-like building, pierced by windows.

Cesar Pelli, Drawing, Indiana Tower, 1981, charcoal, graphite on paper

Collection of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; purchase through bequest of Erskine Hewitt; 1985-63-8

In addition to creating models, architects often think through the planning stages of a building’s design by producing detailed, hyper-realistic drawings. This rendering by Argentine-born architect Cesar Pelli pictures Indiana Tower, a 750-foot-tall monument envisioned in the early eighties for Indianapolis, to rival nearby St. Louis’s Gateway Arch. The obelisk-like spire was intended to be the focal point of White River State Park. Reminiscent of the Washington Monument—but pierced throughout with windows—the tower would have provided a spiral walkway spanning its length, offering panoramic views of the Indiana plains. Disdained by critics due to its immense height and expense, as well its appearance, which some likened to a corncob, Indiana Tower was never constructed.

Cesar Pelli, Spotlight on Design lecture, National Building Museum, 2012

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Pelli founded his firm, now known as Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, in 1977. He served as Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture from 1977 to 1984, and in 1995 was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. Among his firm’s projects are the North Terminal of Reagan National Airport (1997), the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan (2004), Bloomberg Tower in New York (2005), and more recently, Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (2017).

Like the Eiffel Tower in Europe, it will be the thing you must see. It will be known as well in Moscow as it is in Singapore.

Cesar Pelli, on Indiana Tower


Indiana Tower Plan is Under AttackNew York Times, October 26, 1983.