Posts tagged with "Columbus Indiana":

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Exhibit Columbus 2019 celebrates the value of good design and community

In a small Indiana town, a rich architectural legacy is celebrated with an annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community. In its second exhibition run (it’s first in 2017) Exhibit Columbus features 18 site-responsive installations that use Columbus, Indiana’s heritage as inspiration and context while highlighting the role that community plays in growing a vibrant city. This year’s exhibition explores “good design” and “community,” a reference to the 1986 exhibition Good Design and the Community: Columbus, Indiana at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The early exhibit championed town business leader and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller’s hometown pride by emphasizing the community’s process and involvement in building renowned architecture. As his community-based, activist approach resurges to mold this year’s theme, Exhibit Columbus becomes an architectural showcase aimed at doing good for the people. Bryony Roberts Studio’s Soft Civic is a complimentary showstopper to arguably the most civic site of the exhibition, Columbus’ City Hall, designed by Edward Charles Bassett of SOM (1981). The two cantilevered steel beams masked in brick veneer, generous lawn, and lengthy walkway toward a broad staircase frames the collection of colorful woven and steel structures. The installation articulates the many different vantage points afforded in civic life—play, performance, or protest; on the lawn, the steps, or at the front door. The solid brick planar facade that meets a clear glazed half-circle atrium fundamentally shapes the installation. These elements reveal layers of circles that slice (at an angle) and frame (vertically or horizontally) a new reading of the municipal building. The installation will offer programming opportunities for the community, including but not limited to a democracy day and youth summit with musical performances. An interview with Bryony Roberts in collaboration with Brooklyn-based textile workshop Powerhouse Arts describes the laborious process of weaving the large structures. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) Understorey, a project by Hans Tursak (MIT School of Architecture + Planning) and Viola Ago (the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture), is an open-air vivarium, a place of life, built from a combination of off-the-shelf agricultural products and custom, digitally fabricated structural elements. Understorey is an ecological education center (like many of this year’s installations) that highlights a cross-section of southern Indiana’s geological specimens taken from quarries, forests, and urban sites. The pavilion is an architectural expression devoid of aesthetic neglect commonly seen in environmentally conscious design.  Corn is no surprise in Indiana. The leading crop covers one-quarter of the state and is traditionally processed as animal feed and ethanol. Though Boston and Kigali, Rwanda-based MASS Design Group surprised Hoosiers with an already familiar scene in Corn / Meal. What. From the street view, the installation looks like a standard, well-maintained miniature cornfield. Upon entry, maze-like corridors made of corn lead to a tangled serpentine picnic table within a dedicated open clearing. When read as an absurdist, formalist sculpture referencing local tropes such as corn and the always-communal picnic table, it’s actually one of the more successful installations. An interview with Caitlin Taylor, MASS Design Group’s Design Director, as she describes the depth of research for Corn / Meal and the need for education around food production. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) PienZa Sostenible, led by architect Carlos Zedillo Velasco and his brother Rodrigo Zedillo Velasco, present Las Abejas, a series of homes for bees. The project brings internationally-recognized Mexican architects, like Tatiana Bilbao Estudio and Rozana Montiel Arquitectos, to share their countries’ expertise as regional leaders of apiculture products worldwide. Located in a humble Dan Kiley landscape in front of Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center (1954) visitors are encouraged to consider the importance of bees everywhere in order to sustain our food and environment. Two remaining installations from the inaugural exhibition aren’t leftovers but more so savor-the-flavor of a less-didactic exhibition concerning architecture. Oyler Wu Collaborative’s all-white, tectonic pavilion, The Exchange, still notably stands in the plaza of the Irwin Conference Center, just moments away from PienZa Sostenible's bee homes. Nestled in a more intimate setting outside the William O. Hogue House, Formafantasma’s Window to Columbus originally pledged to display stories of materials that were used to define Washington Street and Columbus. Though, for the Good Design and the Community opening weekend, the significant structure displayed this year’s marketing material. It reminds us that Exhibit Columbus’s impact goes beyond any one installation as the program leaves a lasting impact on the downtown, and more importantly, how people live and play downtown.
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Remembering César Pelli’s lost mark on the Midwest

César Pelli, the world-renowned architect who passed away in July, will likely be remembered for his largest and most recognizable commissions: the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, among others. But unlike many buildings designed by "starchitects" these days, some of Pelli's most compelling and controversial work has fallen by the wayside of mainstream industry discourse.

In 1968, municipal leaders in the architectural Mecca of Columbus, Indiana commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to devise a masterplan that would reverse the deterioration of the city’s downtown area. Among other recommendations, SOM highlighted the need for a new shopping complex in the central part of the city—a project that would help to enliven streets and reduce consumers’ reliance on less centralized malls in the suburbs and exurbs. The city set aside two square blocks for the project, along with three additional blocks for parking, and waited for investors to take on the venture.

No bites came. After waiting in vain for property developers to take over the project, the Irwin Management Company, controlled by local businessman and head of the Columbus-based Cummins Engine Company, J. Irwin Miller, bought the lot. In order to build a state-of-the-art shopping center, Miller hired an architect still in the incipient stages of his career, a young Argentine-born man with six completed projects under his belt. César Pelli soon arrived in Indiana and made several suggestions regarding the composition of the center, including that a significant portion of the site be designed as a community gathering space.

Between 1972 and 1973, Pelli built a complex consisting of two main buildings. The first building, the Courthouse Center, named for its proximity to the historic Columbus Courthouse, housed conventional shopping mall. The other building, called “The Commons,” was connected to the first by a single glass envelope and housed a 63,000-square-foot, multi-level public space. Under 38-foot-tall ceilings, Pelli designed a 2-acre park that he compared to Italian piazzas, complete with benches, planters, and playgrounds for children. The bronze-tinted glass reflected enough light to prevent passive heat gain but also allowed for sweeping views of the street from inside. The atrial space became a popular venue for public events, with enormous structural elements and sloping roofs that towered above visitors. As locals increasingly frequented The Commons, the adjacent mall assumed “The Commons Mall” as a colloquial nickname.

The Commons represented Pelli’s first contribution to Columbus’ built landscape. The building stood alongside great modernist masterpieces by the likes of I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, and Robert Venturi—all of whom were commissioned through an altruistic program established by Miller’s foundation. The industrialist persuaded city officials to hire architects from a list of five blue-chip designers that he had assembled, agreeing to pay their top-dollar fees himself. Miller believed that high-quality buildings would help attract investment and talented engineers to the town, both of which would bolster the Cummins Engine Company’s business prospects.

César Pelli, in fact, had first visited Columbus in 1956 to tour the Eero Saarinen-designed Miller House, which was still under construction. Completed at a time when much of his portfolio consisted of buildings in coastal states, The Commons was also Pelli’s first project in the Midwest. He would go on to accept several commissions in the region during the following decades, primarily for institutional or corporate projects in urban centers and college towns. The Commons was the architect’s only built structure in the state of Indiana until 2011, when he finished the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, also in Columbus.

With its bulky, monolithic facades and expansive glass curtain walls, The Commons was viewed by some as a precursor to Pelli’s Pacific Design Center, which he finished in Los Angeles in 1975. The latter achieved far greater renown than the former, but their shared design cues are unmistakable. As Pelli’s career advanced and he reached the upper tiers of architectural prominence, his affinity for seamless glass designs gave way to a material approach that often included both glass and stonework—a stylistic choice more characteristic of the postmodern era. Many of his 21st-century commissions signaled a return to the glass curtain wall, a medium that has achieved greater flexibility and versatility since the 1970s. The architectural significance of The Commons weathered many of these fluctuations, so much so that it played host to the Pritzker Prize ceremony in 1994.

Eventually, in the first years of the 21st century, it became clear that The Commons and its adjacent mall were facing an upward battle against deteriorating physical conditions and increasing maintenance costs. The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation bought the property in 2005 and began to mull over strategies for redevelopment, ultimately concluding that the retail space would have to be torn down. As part of the plan, The Commons was also almost entirely demolished in 2008, leaving only its steel skeleton and Chaos 1, a site-specific kinetic installation by sculptor Jean Tinguely. The building that replaced it, still called The Commons, was designed by the Boston-based firm Koetter Kim.

In a city where architectural heritage is both a huge point of pride for residents and the lifeblood of a burgeoning local tourist economy, Pelli’s building is one of few major structures ever to be dismantled. Much like César Pelli himself, it lives on today not only through photographs, drawings, and individual memories, but through an architectural legacy that extends well beyond walls.

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A modernist Cummins corporate campus receives a facelift with reflective glass

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Originally built in 1985 in the modernist Mecca of Columbus, Indiana, the Cummins Corporate Office Building was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates (KRJDA). The 480,000-square-foot building featured an intricate facade of alternating precast concrete and glass panels in a sawtooth plan overlooking a parklike campus designed by landscape architect Jack Curtis. As part of a recent renovation and retrofit, a new curtain-wall system was installed to improve the building’s performance and bring in more natural light while respecting the architectural integrity of the original building.
  • Facade Manufacturer YKK Viracon
  • Architect RATIO Architects
  • Original Architect Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates
  • Facade Installer YKK AP
  • Location Columbus, IN
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System YKK YCW 750 OG
  • Products Viracon VS-14
Working with RATIO Architects, YKK AP designed and built a new curtain wall using its YCW 750 OG Outside Glazed Curtain Wall System. The glazing system was developed to accommodate larger spans and higher pressure while improving a building’s thermal performance. For this project, though, the system’s design flexibility was its most significant characteristic. Of primary importance to the design team was ensuring the new curtain wall could maintain the same lines and depth as KRJDA’s original concrete and glass system—not an easy task considering the original north-facing windows featured multiple glass panels and concrete spandrels within a single framing system. This posed a particular challenge to YKK. Not only did it have to set multiple panes of glass within the same mullion system, it also had to ensure that all panes could be replaced without removing the entire system. Of course, the designers had to maintain the interior appearance as well, adding interior glass panes without any visible offsets or notable seams. The design of the new system succeeds in preserving the composition, projections, and setbacks of KRJDA’s original facade.
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Exhibit Columbus National Symposium embraces progressive preservation

How do historic places live for now? This was one of many questions presented during the 2018 Exhibit Columbus National Symposium held in Columbus, Indiana, from September 26 through 29. Using many of Columbus’s High Midcentury Modern structures as venues, curators, architects, and creators explored how architecture, art, and design can be used to make better places to live and inform new approaches to preservation that incorporate modern heritage and civic initiatives into the future of cities. A collaboration between Landmark Columbus, AIA Indiana, AIA Kentucky, Docomomo US, and Newfields, Exhibit Columbus kicked off with alternating programming, featuring a symposium one year and an exhibition the next. This year’s Exhibit Columbus National Symposium complements the 2019 Exhibit Columbus Exhibition, which invites artists and architects to create outdoor works that are inspired by and communicate with Columbus’s more than 80 structures, works of art, and landscapes designed by significant architects and artists, including Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Robert Venturi, Harry Weese, I.M. Pei, and Alexander Girard. Exhibit Columbus follows the original ethos of philanthropist and Cummins Corporation executive J. Irwin Miller, who saw the built environment as a means to create social change and saw a need for the revitalization of his hometown as it approached the mid-20th century. Establishing the Cummins Foundation in 1954, Miller offered to pay all architect fees for new public buildings in Columbus, which brought emerging architects to the small midwestern city to build schools, factories, offices, and houses of worship, and kickstarted the architectural radicalism that Columbus now defines itself by. The 2019 exhibition will bring 18 projects to downtown Columbus, including five J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Installations, five Washington Street Installations, six University Design Research Fellowships, and the design team from Columbus High School’s C4 program. The symposium’s intent was to activate multiple aspects of the afterlife of historic places, giving the exhibition a collaborative, thoughtful context. While the bulk of the content related to Columbus’s High Midcentury Modernism, the conversations explored other sites and projects where progressive preservation has been implemented. The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research's recently-acquired Usonian Smith House, and #NEWPALMYRA, an effort to reconstruct the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra as a virtual environment, were both part of separate discussions on interpretation and connection. The sense of progressive preservation at Exhibit Columbus was refreshingly unburdened by the lack of old-school historic preservation and architectural history thought chains, and discussion instead focused on innovation, creativity, and participation over historical facts delivered by academics. This was clearest in the presenters' choice of language; the overwhelming use of "cultural heritage" over "historic preservation" during sessions brought the field in America one tiny step closer to the cultural, community-centric model practiced in Europe. Discussions on sustainability looked at the role that historic architecture and design might play in making cities more equitable, not as the central pillar of the well-worn idea that the greenest thing is what’s already built, or the notion that a community can only venerate one period and thesis of historical significance. The most vital discussions occurred around exhibitions as civic action, and how historic sites might break out of their stasis and engage future creators and users of design, culminating with the introduction of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Recipients, an exciting collection of firms tasked with creating the site-responsive installations that will mingle with Columbus’s existing heritage, a vision of the creative future of Columbus that could work anywhere.
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The 2018 Docomomo US National Symposium brings progressive preservation to Indiana

The Docomomo US National Symposium will take place from September 26 through 29 in Indianapolis and Columbus, Indiana. Created in partnership with Landmark Columbus and titled Design, Community, and Progressive Preservation the symposium will focus on the three most important aspects of any preservation effort: design, heritage, and the community. We also developed the program with the American Institute of Architects Indiana and Kentucky Chapters and the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. The original design and construction of buildings of our recent past require interventions and strategies that go beyond earlier periods in their scale and materiality. Conceptual, financial, political, regulatory, and environmental factors are all influencing preservation’s shifting landscape in directions away from traditional preservation approaches. This, combined with the constantly expanding number of recent-past sites and modern buildings eligible for heritage status (the large majority of our built world dates from the second half of the 20th century), a diminished regulatory participation on all levels of government, and concerns about the elimination of financial incentives demand new preservation policies, practices, and ways of thinking. Preservationists, designers, artists, and architects must engage in dialogue with communities to find creative, meaningful, and forward-looking solutions to preserve our modern heritage. Recognizing that preservation itself now has a 50-or-so-year history, different terms and descriptions have been adopted to highlight new approaches with words ranging from ‘experimental’ to simply ‘new.’ For the symposium the word progressive was attached to preservation to emphasize that our approach must look towards the future and must engage younger audiences and communities. It is also a reference back to a time when preservation as an action by itself was considered progressive. Columbus is the right place to undertake this dialogue at this critical time. Since the late 1930s prominent modern designers have been commissioned to create projects in this small American city, creating an unparalleled heritage of modern design and architecture. This practice continues today and expresses the ongoing significance of design in this community, creating a basis for a preservation mindset that is collective rather than regulatory. In addition, the Exhibit Columbus program, currently in its second round, commissions contemporary artists and designers to create installations that engage and interact with the community and its heritage. From a Docomomo US perspective, this forms an ideal background to explore a broader discussion: how do we best ensure the preservation of the recent past in a manner that is meaningful to a wide variety of communities, bring contemporary designers into an ongoing dialogue, and how can those efforts be replicated elsewhere? I hope you will join us later this month as we explore these important themes in one of the most interesting small cities in America. Docomomo US is the acronym for Documentation and Conservation of buildings sites and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement in the United States and is a national nonprofit dedicated to the education about and advocacy for modern design heritage. It is the US affiliate of an international network with representations in over 75 countries.
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IKD has pioneered hardwood cross-laminated timber

Thanks to a two-year, $250,000 Wood Innovations Grant from the United States Forest Service, and with further support from the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, IKD is currently working on an advancement that may completely change the cross-laminated timber (CLT) market. Currently, CLT is made primarily of softwoods, which have the advantage of being fast growing and inexpensive. IKD believes the future of CLT should also include hardwood, and now it just might. As a proof of concept, IKD has constructed a large installation, which stands as the first hardwood CLT structure in the United States. The project was built with an experimental CLT material made from low-value hardwood-sawn logs for Exhibit Columbus, the new architectural exhibition in the modernist mecca of Columbus, Indiana. A reference to the conversation pit in the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House, the IKD’s Conversation Plinth is a multilevel occupiable installation in the plaza in front of the I.M. Pei–designed Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. The motivations behind using hardwood are two-fold. Currently, over 50 percent of the 80 million cubic feet of hardwood harvested in Indiana each year is used for low-value industrial products. By integrating this wood into the higher-value CLT, it raises the value of what is already Indiana’s largest cash crop. And from the perspective of designers and engineers, hardwood CLT provides the possibility of a more fire-resistant panel and a form-factor advantage. “We are currently exploring a number of applications that could have larger scale building applications,” IKD partner Yugon Kim said. “Since hardwood has superior mechanical properties, we believe we can achieve a panel that could be thinner to meet the same structural capacity of an equivalent softwood CLT panel.” The Conversation Plinth is not simply an exhibition piece for IKD. It is a test of the hardwood CLT the firm developed with SmartLam, the first CLT manufacturer in the United States. Over the months, the project will be subjected to the varied and sometimes-extreme weather of south-central Indiana, providing firsthand data that IKD and SmartLam can use to advance their research on the material. From the beating sun of late summer through the sleet, snow, and ice of winter, the project will be monitored for durability as well as aesthetic and structural changes. “We are closely observing the mixed-species panels and seeing how they react in the extreme temperature and moisture fluctuations so that we can continue to refine the species mix within the panel, the adhesion process, and the finish application and approach,” Kim explained. “It is really interesting to see how differently hardwood moves from softwood when the moisture content varies, and we are looking deeper at the fiber structures and unique characters of species themselves as well to create a superior CLT panel.” The project continues much of the timber research IKD has been doing, including its design for the Timber City at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and work on timber modular waste units, a timber version of CMU made from timber waste that has won numerous awards. Resources Project Lead and Designer IKD CLT Fabrication SmartLam Timber Engineering Bensonwood Phase One Hardwood Testing Material Supplier Pike Lumber Company Phase Two Conversation Plinth Hardwood Material Supplier Koetter Woodworking General Contractor Taylor Brothers Construction Co. Softwood Material Supplier And Fabricator Sauter Timber
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2017 Best of Design Awards for New Materials

2017 Best of Design Award for New Materials: Indiana Hardwood Cross-Laminated Timber Project Designer: IKD Location: Columbus, Indiana The Indiana hardwood cross-laminated timber (HCLT) project is the first commercial pressing of HCLT and the first use of HCLT in a built project in the United States. IKD aspires to create a new timber product by upcycling low-value hardwood sawn logs that are extracted from Indiana forests. Indiana’s largest cash crop is hardwood, but over 55 percent of each log processed is of low value. The firm set out to demonstrate how low-value hardwood can be used to create high-value HCLT, which can then be used as the primary structure for buildings. This process has the potential to initiate a cascade of effects: positive job growth in rural forestry and manufacturing, hardwood lumber market expansion, forest land value increase, and improved forest management practices. HCLT offers numerous benefits over softwood, including superior mechanical properties, material volume savings, and increased fire resistance. “The use of hardwood in mass timber is appealing on many levels. Its added strength and durability over softwoods makes it ideal for exterior applications.” —Nathaniel Stanton, principal, Craft Engineer Studio (juror) CLT Fabricator: Smartlam Timber Engineers: Bensonwood General Contractor: Taylor Brothers Construction Hardwood Material Supplier: Koetter Woodworking Grant Funding: United State Forest Service Wood Innovation Grant
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AN speaks with director of Indiana University's new M.Arch program

AN spoke with T. Kelly Wilson, Director of Graduate Studies at the new M.Arch program at Indiana University (IU), about what it takes to start a new architecture program and his vision for the future of the school. Rather than being based in Bloomington, the school will be located in the Modernist mecca of Columbus, Indiana. As the new program opens admissions, Wilson discussed building a new faculty and how the school will approach architecture education. The Architect's Newspaper: What prompted the idea to add an architecture program to the university? T. Kelly Wilson: The president of the university, Michael McRobbie, is wild about architecture. It’s my understanding that when he took his position, he immediately floated the idea of starting an architecture program, but the state has a rule that there can be no duplicate degrees among state universities. Nobody really likes this configuration anymore, but there had to be some political capital and time spent to win in this argument.  At first, we started by building an undergraduate degree which would take place partially here in Columbus. It was in the middle of building that degree that we got a call asking us to make a master’s degree. In the past, we discussed with Columbus the idea of having a graduate program, and, of course, architecture was the perfect degree for this town. How do you see the architecture program interact with the larger School of Art, Architecture and Design? We are a satellite program, with the vast majority of the classes taking place in Columbus and many taking place in our nomadic studio which will travel around the world. We plan to have faculty rotate, and we want to utilize all of IU’s artists, scientists, and liberal arts experts, not just architecture faculty. We’ve specifically written into our budget a way in which faculty can interact with our students in many different ways. This will include a very aggressive gallery and exhibition program, as well as a residency program. With a new program comes a new faculty. How are you building that team? We’ve sent out an APB for faculty, and we’ve hired admin to get things going. All of these people need to be designers, and right now we’re looking for seniority. At some point each faculty is going to have to help build this new program, and you never know what that might mean. The second thing that we're looking for in new faculty is that they have their own secondary practice in visual arts. We intend to build a curriculum that gives time to visual arts equal to that of design studios, with the caveat that there’s no homework. The students should be working on their architecture studio work at night. This will give them enough time and space to explore all manner of visual investigation, but we’re not going to write any pedagogy to link the two. We believe that the synthesis belongs in the head of the student, rather than in the curriculum. If you do these two things in parallel for three years, you’ll find the linkages between the two through your own proclivity or happenstance. It will also help you build your own voice on why you would choose one form over another in the work you produce. We are also looking for someone who is an expert in digital fabrication and design and its contemporary techniques. Cummins Diesel has generously donated a number of robots, so we need to build a Fab Lab, and will need somebody to run that. We think we may need to hire nearly five people each year while the program is being built. The next step is getting students. How many are you hoping to have in the first classes, and what is the goal for the size of the program in the future? That question gets asked of me a lot. The practical answer is that we are looking to get one or two studios worth in the first year. So let’s say that’s between 20 and 30 students. The hope is then to double that every year till we get closer to 90 or 100 students. I feel that once you hit about 300 students in the whole school a real culture begins the take shape. Right now, we are getting emails every day for prospective students. Many from around the Midwest, but also a handful coming from out East as word has gotten out. Admissions are open through January, so we will see.
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"Columbus" is an ode to the Indiana city's modernist architecture

The Columbus we know best is not in Indiana. But Kogonada’s eponymous feature film shifts our attention to a lesser-known Midwestern city in Indiana, one with a progressive reputation and a travel destination for architecture aficionados. Columbus introduces this exceptional city with its rich modernist heritage to a larger audience. Atypical in its blend of a documentary style and narrative, it was screened at Sundance to surprising critical success and presented at the prestigious BAM Cinefest. The debut film marks Kogonada’s transition from videographer to filmmaker. The impeccable framing and characteristic lingering shots reveal Kogonada’s deep involvement with the work of director Jasujiro Ozu, the subject of his unfinished dissertation. The long slow takes that heighten the dramatic presence of the characters and a meticulous attention to place and historical context suggest the influence Neorealist auteurs. With this cinematic foundation, Kogonada goes on to develop a hybrid approach to filmmaking. The result of his efforts is an indelible portrait of place. Indeed, we leave the theatre with a feeling we have been there, led through a small selection of modernist buildings on one of the official architectural tours. Unlike most cities, with their abandoned city centers, spotty pockets of skyscrapers, and suburban sprawl, Columbus has an astonishing number of ground-hugging public buildings and businesses, and the film explores the impact this architecture has on the city and its inhabitants. But Kogonada has a more ambitious and complex project in mind. The film is driven by a spare, somewhat improbable narrative. Jin, played by John Cho, is a translator stranded in the city while his semi-estranged father, a famous architectural historian, is hospitalized for a coma following a stroke. We witness his encounter with Casey, played by the highly lauded Haley Lu Richardson, a tour guide who has relinquished her studies to take care of her heroine-addicted mother. Casey leads Jin through the city, introducing him to her favorite buildings. She, an ardent supporter of her town’s rich architectural heritage, tries to convey how she is personally affected by the buildings. She describes the moment she first “saw” them and what they meant to her. Casey claims most people “don’t give a shit about architecture,” but Deborah Berke’s First Financial Bank speaks to her in a profound way. Are we to suppose that it offers a sense of order in her otherwise chaotic life? Can we then understand how modern architecture engenders that sense of stability in a complex world? Casey explains that Berke deploys a basic asymmetry, and then works to create “a delicate balance” among the parts. They discuss the merits of James Polshek’s claim that architecture is “responsible for healing,” as they stand before his bridge leading to the hospital. Two Saarinen churches elicit questions about religion and modern architecture. These and other issues constitute the conversations between the two characters as they meet and move through the city exploring the buildings. We observe them observing, we see what they see, and are invited to ponder the questions with them. To clarify and enrich our understanding of the modernist architecture, the camera sets up a kind of compare-and-contrast as it moves from the public buildings to the interiors of Casey’s modest, low-lit home where she resides with her mother. Close cropped shots of quotidian details conjure the claustrophobic, yet cozy environment in striking contrast with those of the lavish Edwardian Irwin Inn where Jin resides. “Not very modernist,” he claims, stating the obvious, yet at the time of the final renovation in 1910, it was praised for its modern use of electricity, telephone, intercom, and even a hydraulic elevator. We wander through lavish rooms pausing over the British oak furniture, silk lined walls, tiles from France and Wales, and explore the extravagant gardens in long takes as leaves on a single tree flutter in a gentle breeze. These images provide the backdrop for an asexual yet emotionally charged and intensely intimate friendship between the two as they recount their lives and struggles. The terse dialogue is punctuated by long silences as we await their self-realizations. But somehow, despite the careful structure and fine acting, the storyline of their relationship ultimately fails to move us. The architecture of the plot is revealed in the way that structural systems are deliberately exposed in some buildings. Perhaps this parallel was Kogonada’s intention? Ultimately, the contrivance of the plot lessens the transformative impact of the story. On the contrary, what moves us most is Elisha Christian’s cinematography. Each shot seems deliberate, designed to reveal the way buildings work. One watches indistinguishable figures moving through passageways in the distance while the actors converse in the foreground. A skateboarder surprises us as he glides across the screen only to disappear into the shadows through a hallway in the background. Perhaps the most powerful moments occur when Casey discovers that her mother has resumed lying to her. We see Casey, hidden in the dark, telephoning one of the cleaners working through the night, her red shirt punctuating the brightly lit office. This scene calls to mind Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projection piece at the Venice Biennale in 2009, in which he created a Venetian arcade along the interior walls of the exhibition space. Between each column was a scrim with what appeared to be shadows of the piazza beyond, rather like a camera obscura. Wodiczko conjured life in the streets, and we hear barely audible fragments of conversations coming from the invisible piazza. In contrast, what we see in Columbus is a single, solitary figure moving through stark, pristine spaces. The only sounds are those of the tete-a-tetes of our characters. What pervades this film is the silence of Edward Hopper’s paintings and a profound loneliness mediated by the promise of modern architecture. ­
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Detroit architect Gunnar Birkerts has died at 92

Latvian architect Gunnar Birkerts has passed away at age 92. The Detroit-based architect was best known for his formally exuberant interiors that carried on the legacy of Eero Saarinen; in 1951 Birkerts came to the U.S. to work with Saarinen in Birmingham, Michigan. He also worked in the offices of Perkins + Will before starting his own practice where he developed a unique style around unexpected angular forms and layered, folding planes that defined spectacular spaces. His work extended the Scandinavian tradition into late modernism, especially with his use of indirect lighting (via skylights) in ways similar to the Saarinens and Alvar Aalto. Some of his most notable projects include the Kansas City Museum of Contemporary Art; the Calvary Baptist Church of Detroit; The Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York; Lincoln Elementary School in Columbus, Indiana; and The Latvian National Library, also known as the Castle of Light. https://www.instagram.com/p/BX0JGrRlQuj/  
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Modern architecture stars in Kogonada's Columbus

“Well, that’s Columbus—meth and modernism,” quips 19-year-old protagonist Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), in the new independent film Columbus. Directed by Kogonada, the movie centers on Columbus, Indiana, so much so that the city and its architecture functions as a character equal to the actors (and of course, lending itself to the film’s title). In context, her remark isn’t a flippant dismissal of the town but a reflection of larger issues Kogonado contemplates in his work. “Do forms make a difference? Do buildings make our lives better even when they are bad?” This is a particularly apt question to ask in a city like Columbus, which, although known for its architecture, is not exactly known as a cultural hotspot. It is rare that architecture features so heavily in what is otherwise a clever coming-of-age tale, but even the plot emerged from the city’s buildings. Kogonada was inspired by visiting the southern Indiana city and wrote the script based on his observations. “The City of Columbus had to give us permission to film there, or else we wouldn’t have made the film,” Kogonada said in a discussion following a screening at BAM. Scenes center on, around, and in the soaring modernist works by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Deborah Berke, as Casey rapidly gains aesthetic awareness and an appreciation for architecture as she grapples with staying in her hometown and taking care of her mother (a recovering meth addict) while her friends go off to college. She encounters Jin (John Cho), a Korean-American translator who comes to the city to care for his father, a noted architectural historian who falls critically ill while visiting Columbus; the pair form a relationship. The plot itself is charming and smart, but it is the film’s pacing, styling, and setting that elevate it to what the New Yorker has described as “precocious genius.” Kogonada incorporates the architecture both blatantly and subtly. Throughout, Casey names and describes each building to Jin, a newcomer to Columbus—Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church, I.M. Pei's Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, Eero Saarinen’s Miller house, the Irwin Conference Center, and North Christian Church, Deborah Berke’s Irwin Union Bank, and Robert A.M. Stern’s Columbus Regional Hospital, among others. Those structures not explicitly labeled still loom prominently in the setting. Architectural themes also permeate the film, most notably the exploration of absence and presence, void and volume. Kogonada explores this several different ways: Whenever music plays, there is an absence of dialogue; when Jin speaks Korean, there is an absence of subtitles; characters refer to plot moments that never came up; and at times there is silence even though the audience can see that the person is speaking. Other questions are grappled with, as well: “Can architecture heal?” “Do the buildings we grow up around inform our views of the world?” “What makes modernism important?” They are good questions and ones that the architectural, art, and design communities debate often, but in Columbus they are opened up to the layperson and architecture aficionado alike. For screenings and more information, see the film's website.
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Cummins to announce major project for Columbus, Indiana

Representatives from the diesel engine manufacturer, Cummins, the State of Indiana, the City of Columbus, Indiana, and Bartholomew County, are expected to make an announcement next week regarding a major investment in the city and the Cummins global headquarters. While details are still limited, officials have indicated that as much as $80 million will be spent on a new railroad overpass and another project within Cummins’s global headquarters in downtown Columbus. The announcement is scheduled to take place at 1:00 p.m. at the Cummins office. The railroad overpass will likely serve Cummins manufacturing in the area. The Cummins global headquarters was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche. Constructed in 1983, the building is one of many notable architecture projects in the small central Indiana town. Cummins’s CEO, H. Irwin Miller, was a longtime patron of architecture and was the founder of the Cummins Foundation in the 1950’s. The Cummins Foundation provides support, though the payment of architecture fees, for the construction of public buildings in Columbus.