Columbus, Indiana is known as the “Athens of the Prairie”: a mecca of midcentury modernism in an idyllic, small midwestern town. Featuring eight national historic landmarks, it is a well-preserved glimpse into the transformative power of architecture when implemented citywide.
Recently, a new wave of young designers and supporters are aiming to reinvigorate this design heritage for the 21st century. A newly formed advocacy and action group called Landmark Columbus, led by Richard McCoy, has announced plans for Exhibit Columbus a biannual design exhibition to start in fall 2017, with an inaugural symposium “Foundations and Futures,” September 28-October 2, 2016. Featured keynotes will be Deborah Berke, Will Miller, Robert A. M. Stern, and Michael Van Valkenburgh.
Dubbed “a biennial exploration of architecture, art, design, and community,” Exhibit Columbus will repeat the symposium in even years and the exhibition of site-specific installations in odd years. A competition will be held between ten selected designers, and five will be selected to build their installations for the 2017 event. These proposals will be on public view at the Indiana University Center for Art + Design. The winners will receive the J. Irwin Miller and Xenia S. Miller Prize.
The ten selected teams are:
• Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch of Aranda\Lasch (Tucson, AZ and New York, NY)
• Herwig Baumgartner and Scott Uriu of Baumgartner + Uriu (Los Angeles, CA)
• Rachel Hayes (Tulsa, OK)
• Eric Höweler and Meejin Yoon of Höweler + Yoon (Boston, MA)
• Yugon Kim of IKD (Boston, MA)
• Mel Kendrick (New York, NY)
• Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee in collaboration with Jonathan Olivares (Los Angeles, CA)
• Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu of Oyler Wu Collaborative (Los Angeles, CA)
• Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis of Plan B Architecture & Urbanism (New Haven, CT)
• Chris Cornelius of studio:indigenous (Milwaukee, WI)
“Exhibit Columbus was created in part to answer the question, ‘What’s next for Columbus?,’” said Mayor Jim Leinhoop. “We want this initiative to become a platform to showcase our historic design heritage and the great work we are doing today while pointing to the future so the next generation continues to experience a community that is as strong as the last generation’s.”
The five sites for the Miller Prize installations are:
• First Christian Church (1942) by Saarinen and Saarinen
• Irwin Conference Center (1954) by Eero Saarinen and Associates
• Bartholomew County Public Library (1969) by I.M. Pei and Partners
• Cummins Corporate Office Building (1984) by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates
• Mill Race Park (1992) by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with architecture by Stanley Saitowitz.
The Miller Prize “honors the legacy of two of the twentieth century’s greatest patrons of architecture, design, and art, and a family whose visionary commitment to community remains unparalleled.”
“Exhibit Columbus will encourage visitors to explore the design legacy of Columbus while re-energizing the community around the potential to realize new designs in Columbus,” said Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus. “This innovative program is a model that talks about the importance of place
and community, themes that are nationally relevant.”
Plans for the 2017 exhibition will include at least one project by high school students from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, as well as five installations by students of nearby univerisities:
• Ball State University, College of Architecture and Planning
• The Ohio State University, Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture
• University of Cincinnati, School of Architecture and Interior Design
• University of Kentucky, School of Architecture
• University of Michigan, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and
IUCA+D will also host a designer-in-residence who will make an installation with Indiana University students at North Christian Church (1964) by Eero Saarinen and Associates.
Exhibit Columbus is supported by Columbus Area Visitors Center, Columbus Museum of Art Design, Cummins Inc., Efroymson Family Fund, Haddad Foundation, Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, Johnson Ventures, Schumaker Family and SIHO Insurance Services.
“We love the idea that Exhibit Columbus builds on the city’s legacy of partnerships and collaboration, while inspiring a bright future,” said Karen Niverson, executive director of the Columbus Area Visitors Center. “We believe it will not only contribute to the quality of life here, but also help attract people to
live in and visit Columbus.”
The Heritage Fund spearheads the Landmark Columbus efforts. “At Heritage Fund we believe that this project emerged directly from our Community Leadership Values, which describe a legacy of working in public-private partnerships, always striving to be forward thinking, and deeply believing
in the value of good design,” said Tracy Souza, President and CEO of Heritage
Fund. “We are extremely grateful for the donors that have immediately stepped
forward to support Exhibit Columbus.”