Although Columbus, Indiana, is known as an "architectural mecca", two-thirds of the notable buildings were completed more than 40 years ago. How does a city that is recognized for innovation in design stay relevant when the last new building of distinction was designed over 10 years ago? That was the challenge for Exhibit Columbus, a group of civic-minded individuals and organizations who came together under the leadership of Richard McCoy, Director of Landmark Columbus.
Their idea was to create an annual exploration of architecture, art, design and community that would make Columbus a magnet city for new ideas. They decided on an alternating yearly schedule of Symposiums and Exhibits. Last year, the first symposium, "Foundations and Futures," took place and included experts and sessions on modern architecture, fabrication and the community. Panel discussions by 10 finalists for the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition set the stage for this year's inaugural exhibit. The finalists presented proposals for temporary installations that respond to iconic sites along Fifth Street. Five prize-winning designs were selected by the jury to transform the cityscape and spark new conversations about Columbus' design heritage during the exhibition.
While the Miller Prize Competition incorporates and enhances Columbus' past, five additional exhibits along Washington Street are designed with the present in mind. Exhibit Columbus worked with five leading international design galleries and challenged them to create "an object or experience that enhances human interaction and connection and that inspires community conversations about the role of design in daily life."
The future of architecture is showcased by the University Installations on the grounds of Central Middle School. Students from five Midwestern universities with masters programs in architecture and design were given the opportunity to create displays using emerging technology and ideas about design. In addition, the Indiana University School of Art & Design students and instructors created an installation at North Christian Church and high school students with an interest in design from the two Columbus area high schools build a project adjacent to the Historic Post Office.
Exhibit Columbus opened August 26 and continues through November 26. The exhibits are free and can be found using tour maps available at the Columbus Visitors Center or via a downloadable GPS-enabled app that lets you hear from the designers and add your own observations.
Miller Prize Installations
The J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition honors two great patrons of architecture, art and design by furthering their mission to make Columbus the best community of its size.
Another Circle by ArandaLasch responds to the strong formal and architectural elements already present in Mill Race Park, using 1,100 pieces of salvaged Indiana limestone to tie together the round lake, the People Trail, and the river with a new 3.5-acre stone circle. While the design hearkens back to ancient henges and modern earthworks, its primary goal is to articulate fields of activity for contemporary park visitors. Within the circle, stones are placed, stacked, or arrayed to create a theater and areas for discussion, games, and relaxation: a loose gathering of function inside a scattering of stone.
About the Site: Serene and ennobling, Michael Van Valkenburgh and Stanley Saitowitz's Mill Race Park replaces what was once a troubled area. The floodplain was the site of the Mooney Tannery in the 19th century and later the "Death Valley" shantytown. The area first became a park in the 1960s. In 1993, landscape architect Van Valkenburgh completed a redesigned park that honored the site's heritage and ecology while looking to the future. The Round Lake acts as the visual center to the water-dominated composition. Saitowitz designed the architectural elements, including an Observation Tower offering a view of Columbus' downtown architecture.
Design Team: ArandaLasch is a New York and Tucson-based design studio established in 2003 by Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch that designs buildings, installations and furniture. Recognition includes the United States Artists Award, Young Architects Award, Design Vanguard Award, AD Innovators, and the Architectural League Emerging Voices Award. Their early projects are the subject of the book, Tooling. ArandaLasch has exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, design fairs and biennials. Their work is part of the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York.
Anything can happen in the woods
Plan B imagines the columns of the Cummins Corporate Office Building pergola multiplying to form a kind of urban forest, titled Anything can happen in the woods. The new columns are mirrored as a nod to Roche Dinkeloo's aesthetic and to reflect their surroundings: green hedges, the busy street, and the Post Office opposite, another Roche Dinkeloo design. Landscape forms - grass-covered mounds that serve as places of relaxation, contemplation, and conversation - punctuate the mirrored woodland, enticing viewers to explore and inhabit a space that is usually passed through or passed by.
About the Site: Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates' Cummins Corporate Office Building (COB) is located on a site rich with Columbus history. An early railroad hub, it saw the building of the Cerealine Mill in the 1870s, which later became home to Cummins Machine Works until 1919. Cummins purchased the land in 1975 for their new corporate headquarters. Completed in 1984, Roche and Dinkeloo's two-story building features an ivied portico that opens onto a large, urban green space. With its audacious space planning and industrial design and lighting schemes, the COB pointed to new directions in corporate office design.
Design Team: Plan B Architecture & Urbanism is an architectural design and research practice based in New Haven, Connecticut, led by Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis. Their work applies architectural thinking, analysis, and cartographic methods to strategize and reconfigure social, economic, cultural, and political infrastructures. Plan B has exhibited internationally, including the Yale School of Architecture; the Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale; the Chengdu Architecture Biennale; and the Eye on Earth Summit for world leaders in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Plan B has been the recipient of many awards including the 2013 AIA Latrobe Prize, a Hines Research Grant for Advanced Sustainability in Architecture, and the AIA Upjohn Research Grant. Ongoing projects include a spatial planning strategy for the Maldives and the design of a network of children's libraries in Mozambique.
IKD's design for Conversation Plinth takes inspiration from the conversation pit in the Miller House and the plinths that elevate the landmarks immediately surrounding the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. Encircling the Moore sculpture on the eastern half of the site, large shifting timber discs compose a series of plinths that rise upward towards the west and encourage dynamic circulation around the sculpture, allowing the plaza to be experienced in new ways - even by night, thanks to dramatic lighting. IKD is collaborating with cross-laminated timber (CLT) specialists to develop CLT made from Indiana hardwood by-products, potentially revolutionizing an industry that currently uses softwoods.
About the Site: I.M. Pei's Cleo Rogers Memorial Library sits across from Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church. The Carnegie Foundation funded the first library building on this site, a two-story Beaux Arts structure with a curved faÃ§ade. In the 1950s the growing city sought to completely redesign the site. Completed in 1969, Pei's library is a two-story structure with a rough Flemish brick faÃ§ade. The library's plaza includes Large Arch, a sculpture by Henry Moore that frames views of the surrounding buildings, creating a dialogue with Saarinen's church.
Design Team: IKD is an architectural design firm in Boston, Massachusetts, led by Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura that explores the intersection of art and architecture, material and making. IKD's philosophy and process are informed by respect for the technical, physical, and economic demands of bringing life to a project. Their work aims to carefully craft and execute projects that elevate the human experience. Notable work includes exhibitions for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, and the Boston Society of Architects. IKD was awarded the CORE77 Built Environment Award, as well as an honorable mention in Architect magazine's 2016 R+D awards. IKD recently completed the curation and design of Timber City, a traveling exhibition for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., that advocates for a return to timber construction in our urban cores.
Oyler Wu Collaborative's research into Eero Saarinen's oeuvre leads them to focus on three key concepts: Euclidean geometries, solid/void relationships, and tectonics. Their design fabricates a new space within the site by completing the geometries implied by three canopies, legacies of the Irwin Conference Center's history as a drive-up bank. The rectilinear space, defined by the existing canopies and completed by new walls of welded steel - some solid, some sketched in lines or carved away into voids - is enlivened by sophisticated tectonic interplay with embedded objects derived from Oyler Wu's particular idiom. The resulting complex of canopies, walls, and benches produce new areas of containment and new points of destination.
About the Site: Eero Saarinen's Irwin Conference Center (formerly the Irwin Union Bank and Trust) anchors the busy corner of Fifth and Washington Streets. Built in 1954, Saarinen's design would influence the architecture of financial institutions for decades to come. Material and textural flourishes inside and out transformed the modernist "glass box" into a welcoming and convivial space. With an open plan and spacious counters without the typical teller's cages separating the bank from its customers, Saarinen's Irwin Trust Bank was a complete reimagining of what a bank was architecturally, as well as of its place in the community.
Design Team: Oyler Wu Collaborative is an architectural design firm in Los Angeles led by Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu that approaches architecture and design with a critical and rigorous intent that challenges the typical vision of the built environment. Recent projects include a 3-D printing showroom and office space for 3DS Culinary in Hollywood, California; the Stormcloud pavilion for SCI-Arc's 40th anniversary event; the winning pavilion entry for the Beijing Biennale; and a 16 story residential tower in Taipei, Taiwan. The office has won numerous awards, including the Design Vanguard Award from Architectural Record, the Emerging Talent Award from AIA California Council, the Presidential Honor Award for Emerging Practice from AIA LA, Taiwan's ADA Award for Emerging Architect, and the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League in New York.
Inspired by the dwellings of the Myaamia people indigenous to Indiana, Cornelius adorns a walkway leading to First Christian Church with a contemporary "wigwam" - wiikiaami in the Myaamia language - constructed of rebar and copper scales. The swooping conical form is aligned both to the church's iconic campanile and to mark the autumnal equinox. The copper scales, equally reminiscent of eagle feathers and textile designs, are perforated and patinated to make shifting patterns of sunlight and shade, creating a space for gathering as well as a gateway to Saarinen's church.
About the Site: Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen designed First Christian Church at the request of the Sweeney and Miller Families to build a new church in the "modern" style. Once a railroad depot, the site was a small park when construction began in 1939. Completed in 1942, the church is known as the first "modern" building in Columbus. The basilica and campanile arrangement is a bold reinterpretation of Renaissance church forms. Also notable is the sunken garden that flows under the educational wing through an arcade. Interior elements were designed by Charles Eames, Saarinen's wife Loja, and son Eero.
Design Team: studio:indigenous is an architectural design firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, led by Chris Cornelius as a design practice focused on creating intelligent, thoughtful, and contemporary design solutions for American Indian clients. As a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Cornelius is concerned with the architectural translation of Native culture in order to make that culture experiential. Cornelius has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including an Artist in Residence Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution, and multiple wins in the Ken Roberts Architectural Delineation Competition (KRob). He recently served as a cultural consultant and design collaborator with Antoine Predock on the Indian Community School of Milwaukee.
Washington Street Installations
In the 1960s, Alexander Girard developed a plan to unify Washington Street's historic storefronts with a bright color palette and a consistent signage scheme. During the intervening years, much of Girard's plan has been abandoned as buildings undergo repairs and renovations but these installations bring new life and color to the street.
Columbus Circles by PRODUCTORA
PRODUCTORA inserts a series of circular elements attached to building facades along Washington Street, allowing pedestrians a place of rest along the street in an unexpected moment of beauty. Each element interacts in a different way with the surrounding context, highlighting unique narratives of the social and spatial history of the streetscape. This work fits into the larger themes that PRODUCTORA explores using specific architectural interventions to re-define, re-organize, and give new meaning to the surrounding context.
PAUSE by Pettersen & Hein
Pettersen & Hein have created a series of concrete benches that interact with Columbus' unique design history and physical setting in their expression, colors, function, and material. PAUSE is a series of spatial sculptures, which at once call for a meeting, a break, and the start of a dialogue. Dialogue is also the starting point for the design, which relates directly to Alexander Girard's original 1964 streetscape color scheme for Washington Street - a hallmark of the street. Many of the buildings have since been repainted, making PAUSE an ode to Girard's innovative color codes.
Playhouse by Snarkitecture
Snarkitecture's installation, Playhouse, is unexpectedly inserted in an alleyway between Third and Fourth Streets, introducing a dramatic spatial shift from the two- to four-story buildings that form the street front of Washington street. Using forced perspective to create the illusion of unexpected depth, Playhouse is an immersive environment open to all, but only fully explorable by children due to the diminishing scale. Continuous seating reinforces the depth of the forced perspective and provides a place of rest and social interaction. Playhouse is intended to bring people together and encourage engagement with architecture in a playful and inclusive setting.
Window to Columbus by Formafantasma
Window to Columbus is a volcanic glazed brick wall with an inset window. This window will serve as a mini-museum with a fortnightly exhibition telling stories about the materials that have helped to define Washington Street and the architecture of Columbus at large. The six exhibitions are co-curated by Formafantasma and Tricia Gilson of Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives.
Theoretical Foyer by Cody Hoyt
Cody Hoyt's installation transforms the corner of Seventh Street and Washington Street by replacing more than 2,500 existing monochromatic sidewalk bricks with new and brightly colored concrete bricks fabricated in Columbus. Using the colors from the Alexander Girard-designed seat cushions at the Miller House and Garden, Hoyt has created a vibrant motif that invites visitors to imagine new ways to use this corner as a platform for events and happenings.
49262, Ball State University
Columbus, Indiana, is a "tower city" marked by vertical elements that encourage a viewer to direct their gaze upward. 49262 respects and references this verticality without replicating the same proportions. The object meets the earth with sparse perforations that grow in size and density as the height increases. The object blurs and then fades into the sky, creating a gradient between material and space.
INSCRIBED, The Ohio State University
INSCRIBED grew out of an exploration of scripted drawings that referenced procedural work from artists such as Sol Lewitt, Bridget Riley and Casey Reas. The resulting line work was then developed into a series of 3-D printed panels that informed a structural framework. Cincinnati Incorporated generously provided expertise and equipment that were crucial to the project.
Alchemy, University of Cincinnati
Alchemy: the process of transmuting base matter into gold. The studio drew inspiration from both the sensual material manifestations of Girard and Saarinen and the hard facts of industrial production in the Midwest. We were especially interested in industrial detritus, and how, through re-consideration and crafting of these left-over materials, a new appreciation for the embodied energies can emerge.
Indelible Pattern(s), University of Kentucky
Indelible Pattern(s) aspires to communicate with the history of Columbus while leveraging contemporary techniques, technologies, and processes. Regulating lines, forms, and landscape in the immediate context inscribe the geometry with a sense of place, while other organizational rules evade, obfuscate, or delay direct comprehension. Voids frame iconic towers beyond, while pattern and geometry subtly allude to other unforgettable objects.
Cloud / Bank, University of Michigan
The design of Cloud / Bank has emerged from a series of details collected into an uneasy yet coherent whole. Our goal is to embody and communicate the historic legacy of the distributed networks of design and fabrication of both industry and agriculture in the Great Lakes / Midwest Region, as well as their current and latent potential.
Synergia, Indiana University Bloomington
Placed next to North Christian Church, Synergia's ephemeral quality of light acts in conjunction with the spatial movements of compression and expansion, creating a place that fosters peace and reflection. Synergia embodies the reality of life, community, and harmony through simple parts working together to create a complex and light-filled space.
Between the Threads, Columbus East High School and Columbus North High School
With its bright colors and walls that gently vibrate in the breeze, Between the Threads is meant to be playful and inviting. The work is pieced together by 10-foot high steel frames wrapped in plastic lacing string. The panels create a maze for viewers, who slowly become wrapped by color while still remaining able to see and be seen between the threads. The bright colors were inspired by the work of Alexander Girard, whose vivid work is present throughout Columbus. Acknowledging the white scaffolding and bold colors of the neighboring AT&T Switching Center, the piece contrasts starkly with the colorless, flat walls of the Historic Post Office.
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