Posts tagged with "Columbus Indiana":

Columbus, Indiana—“The New Detroit”?

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Columbus, Indiana, has been getting attention in the press lately, and the design community has taken notice. At one high-level design dinner, a prominent design figure jokingly referred to Columbus as “The New Detroit.” While the metaphor is wildly inaccurate based on economics and demographics, there is a kernel of truth there, as the small Midwestern town is becoming a hot design destination. Luckily the buildings are in better shape.

Why Airbnb should help save an architectural icon

If I had to guess, I would say that it has been forty years since Columbus, Indiana, was the hot topic of cocktail conversations at design-related get-togethers in New York City. In those days, it was the supercharged patronage of industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his relationships with designers like Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard that spurred a wave of innovative and provocative architecture in the small Midwestern town. Columbus, with a population of 45,000, has a Robert Venturi fire station, a John Johansen school, a park by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and several buildings by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, including the younger’s iconic Miller House.

However, Columbus is once again in the spotlight. Exhibit Columbus is an ongoing initiative that launched September 29 with a symposium that will set the stage for a large public design exhibition in 2017. Exhibit organizer Richard McCoy, with the assistance of local patrons and leaders such as president of the Wallace Foundation Will Miller, designer Jonathan Nesci, architect Louis Joyner, educator T. Kelly Wilson, and archivist Tricia Gilson, has built a local movement and amassed a group of world-class designers—Aranda/Lasch, Baumgartner + Uriu, Rachel Hayes, Höweler+Yoon, IKD, Ball-Nogues Studio, Johnston Marklee, Jonathan Olivares Design Research, Oyler Wu Collaborative, Plan B Architecture & Urbanism, and studio:indigenous—that are competing for the inaugural Miller Prize, an unusual head-to-head competition where ten teams will make site-specific installations for five sites in Columbus. Five will win the battle and build their proposals fall 2017.

All of this attention has once again launched Columbus into the design consciousness. Many people are excited to see what the 2017 exhibition will bring.

In parallel, there is another incredible opportunity in Columbus that could build on this momentum.

With renewed interest in the town, which thrives off of architectural tourism, the hospitality industry is booming. Notably, however, there are few Airbnb properties. A cursory search for a weekend in October returns only three listings, none of which are downtown where all of the action is. This matters because young tourists are looking for more exciting lodging options than a regular hotel. What would alternative lodging look like in Columbus today? There is a venue that would be perfect. The Cummins Occupational Health Association (COHA) was one of the most innovative buildings in Columbus, but it is now under threat because its owner, Cummins Inc., has no use for it. Originally completed in 1973 by Hugh Hardy of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, this late modernist, high-tech building is one of Columbus’s best-kept secrets. Its colorful, highly expressive exposed building systems celebrate building technology with mannerist exuberance. The spacious open plan is choreographed by a ramp that animates the space and was a revolutionary new way of building healthcare facilities in the 1970s. However, this ramp may render it inflexible for healthcare-related adaptive reuse in today’s world.

So what is the appropriate new life for COHA? One possibility would be lofts or student housing. While the town may not have the market for this typology, there might be another solution. If Airbnb bought the building, it could turn it into a cluster of rentals (like a hotel) that would be rentable on Airbnb and could piggyback off of its collaboration with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa in the Japanese village Yoshino. This project, Sugi No Ie (Yoshino Cedar House), acts as both a rental unit and community center for visitors and is owned by local community groups, thus giving back to the town and offering a community-based experience for travelers.

In this model, the town would own the space, and rent it out on Airbnb. Proceeds could benefit the Heritage Fund, which is invested in the preservation of the architecture through Landmark Columbus. Airbnb would be helping to preserve modern design.

The COHA building is perfect for this model. It needs a patron, and there is no cut-and-dry reuse for it. How cool would it be to stay or live in a radical, 1970s doctor’s office? Artists or designers could get long-term rentals, while visitors could stay for the night. It would take a visionary company like Airbnb that values design to revitalize this space into one of the world’s best design destination hotels. The company would be a hero. Let’s hope it can make this dream a reality.

Exhibit Columbus kicks off with public symposium

This past weekend Exhibit Columbus launched its inaugural annual programming with a three-day symposium. Exhibit Columbus will alternate between symposiums and exhibitions in the modernist enclave of Columbus, Indiana. The small city of Columbus is home to an unmatched collection of modernist architecture. In major part due to the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program's support, the city is filled with projects by the likes of Eliel and Earo Saarinen, Perkins + Will, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Richard Meier, SOM, KPF, Roche Dinkeloo, Robert A. M. Stern, Caudill Rowlett Scott, Harry Weese, Kevin Roche, and Robert Venturi, to name a few. The Cummins Foundation supplements architecture fees for projects in the city that are designed by architects chosen from a list maintained by the Foundation. The incentive has led to schools, churches, factories, and corporate campuses commissioning some of the world’s most famous architects. The goal of Exhibit Columbus is to celebrate the city’s design heritage and bring new talent and attention to the area. This year’s symposium, “Foundations and Futures,” brought speakers and architects together to discuss the past and the future of the city and the field of architecture as a whole. The symposium also launched the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition, which will pit ten young offices in a head-to-head juried competition. The Miller Prize Competition will culminate in the 2017 Exhibit Columbus exhibition with five site-specific installations around the city. This last weekend’s symposium brought historians, critics, clients, and architects together in panel discussions and lectures. Some of the speakers included Curbed Architecture Critic Alexandra Lange, Vitra Museum Chief Curator Jochen Eisenbrand, Fabio Gramazio of Gramazio Kohler, Bill Kreysler, president of Kreysler and Associates, and L. William Zahner, co-chair of A. Zahner Company. The Miller Prize participants also spoke on panel discussions throughout the symposium. Keynote discussions included conversations with Robert A. M. Stern and Deborah Berke, both of whom have built projects in the Columbus area. The J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition participating offices include: Aranda\Lasch Tucson, AZ and New York, NY Baumgartner + Uriu Los Angeles, CA Ball-Nogues Studio Los Angeles, CA Rachel B. Hayes Studio Tulsa, OK Höweler + Yoon Boston, MA Yugon Kim Boston, MA Johnston Marklee and Jonathan Olivares Design Research Los Angeles, CA Oyler Wu Collaborative Los Angeles, CA Plan B Architecture & Urbanism New Haven, CT studio:indigenous Milwaukee, WI These offices will be designing for five sites around the city, which include: Bartholomew County Public Library I.M. Pei and Partners First Christian Church Saarinen and Saarinen Irwin Conference Center Eero Saarinen and Associates Cummins Corporate Office Building Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates Mill Race Park Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with architecture by Stanley Saitowitz

113-year-old pump house in Columbus, Indiana is transformed into a brew pub

Bloomington-based Upland Brewing Co. has transformed the 113-year-old Columbus, Indiana, city water pump house into its newest brewpub. The pump house, which provided water and electricity to the city until 1953, will now provide beer and food as the Upland Columbus Pump House. Overlooking the White River in Columbus’s Downtown, the brick structure was originally designed by architect Harrison Albright. Upland worked with local architect William Burd to reimagine the space, which was falling into disrepair since it was last occupied in 2011. The Upland staff and Indiana Landmarks were both consulted on the project in order to produce a historically sensitive and well-functioning brewpub. Notably, the basement of the pump house was once used by famed Swiss artist Jean Tinguely to produce his 30-foot-tall epic kinetic sculpture “Chaos No 1.” The Upland Columbus Pump House has maintained much of the building’s industrial aesthetic while providing everything one would expect from a contemporary craft-beer pub.

Upland Columbus Pump House 148 Lindsey St. Columbus, IN Tel: 812-799-3587 Architect: William Burd

Columbus, Indiana’s modern architecture inspired a new feature film

For a small city, Columbus, Indiana has an impressive collection of modern architecture. Despite a population of only 44,000, the city has works from John Carl Warnecke, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and many more notable modernists. Columbus will provide the backdrop for the feature directorial debut of Kogonada, a filmmaker well known for his video essays. According to Variety, the film will feature Star Trek star John Cho and indie darling Parker Posey. Columbus's modern architecture was the inspiration for the film's story. Kogonada told Variety that "After visiting the town, I felt an immediate sense for a film that would take place there, which would implicitly explore the promise of modernism (an ongoing quest for me). The story revolves around a man and young woman from opposite sides of the world, each mourning the potential loss of a parent.” Cho will play the son of an architecture critic, while co-star Haley Lu Richardson will play the daughter of an addict. The pair finds a bond through their estranged parents and their love of architecture. Posey will play the role of a former student and current girlfriend of Cho's father. The film is currently shooting in Columbus, which has been called the "Athens of the Prairie" because of its status as a mecca for midcentury modernism. The city has no less than seven National Historic Landmarks, and a biennial design exhibition is in the works starting in 2017. Columbus is also the home of Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 corporation that specializes in engines (see our article on preserving an architectural gem Cummins commissioned.) Considering that architecture is a focal point of both the location and the plot, we can hope to see some of the city's iconic buildings featured in the film. Some likely locations might be the Art Nouveau style Fire Station One by Leighton Bowers, Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church, or his son Eero's North Christian Church, the last building he designed before his death in 1961. Other well-known locations include several of the city's bridges, and Friendship Way, a brick-lined alley with sculptures and neon lights.

Saving one of Columbus, Indiana’s unsung architectural gems

In the 1970s I was a project architect for the New York–based architectural firm Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, (HHPA) and worked on a medical clinic for the Cummins Engine Company called the Columbus Occupational Health Association (COHA). It won a national AIA Honor Award in 1976 and served its client for over 40 years. Now the building is for sale. In the 1960s, in a small town in Indiana, a seed of design excellence was planted. As a patron of modern architecture, J. Irwin Miller had a goal to make Columbus, “the very best community of its size in the country.” “We would like to see it become the city in which the smartest, the ablest, the best young families anywhere would like to live,” he said. The result was a small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by a who’s who of American architecture including, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Columbus Occupational Health Association In 1969, HHPA was selected for an outpatient medical clinic to serve Cummins Engine Company and several other industrial firms in the Columbus area. At that time medical clinics and hospitals were intimidating environments, typically a collection of enclosed rooms off of long sterile corridors—places most people were not enthusiastic about visiting. Cummins wanted something new and innovative and commissioned a study by the Kaiser Foundation, which recommended a cooperative health center. The study suggested that the new building might serve as a national model, so Cummins encouraged the architects to contemplate what environments would be appropriate for healthcare delivery in the future. HHPA sought to create an atmosphere of openness, hope, and healing. It analyzed the program and developed spaces organized around open, sloped walkways bathed in natural light from skylights above. Ultimately COHA offered a new paradigm for outpatient healthcare delivery that welcomed patients and staff in a fresh, expressive environment. Instead of hiding technology behind walls and ceilings, the structure and mechanical systems were exposed and celebrated in bright colors. Visitors experienced the whole building giving them an awareness of place. The building, completed in 1973, was selected in 1976 for a national AIA Honor Award. The jury commented: “Careful organization of the ordinary mechanical and structural elements brings interest and excitement to this small health center… a well-organized plan exposes routine medical functions to both patient and technician which relieves the tedium of clinical work and the anxiety of patients.” I visited the building in 2012, and met with several staff members. They were enthusiastic about working there and told me that patients and staff found that most of the original design was still serving their needs. Now the building is for sale. COHA has moved to new quarters, the Columbus Occupational Health Association has evolved, and in mid-June it relocated to downtown Columbus and is now called the Cummins LiveWell Center. An Uncertain Future What does the future hold for the COHA building and why should we care? Besides people’s affection and pleasant memories, why should COHA be saved and why is it important in architectural history? At the time it broke new ground in many ways. It celebrated the functions and technology that made the building work. More importantly, it showed all of us that going to the doctor doesn’t have to be a scary thing. By opening up the inside, bringing in natural light, and allowing patients to see inside technical spaces like the laboratory, COHA taught us that being healthy and caring for our well-being can be an uplifting experience. There’s a famous quote from Winston Churchill, “First we shape our buildings, thereafter, they shape us.” HHPA shaped COHA to be a simple black glass box on the outside with a bold sloped skylight and a dynamic inside, that treated visitors to a potpourri of shapes, colors and spaces. The philosophy of challenging the status quo and reinventing how healthcare is delivered helped make COHA unique. It has influenced how architects design medical buildings and how medical providers interact with their patients. Unfortunately there are no preservation laws in the city of Columbus, Indiana. COHA could be sold and demolished. Or it could be saved and adapted to a new use. Columbus has a strong sense of community and respects its legacy of design excellence. It has created Landmark Columbus, whose mission is, “To care for and celebrate the world-renowned design heritage of the Columbus, Indiana, area.” Richard McCoy, executive director of Landmark Columbus, told me that, “while there is no law to prevent demolition, the community has a voice and it has influence.” The legacy of Miller is now in the hands of Cummins, Inc. Katie Zarich, manager of external communications for Cummins, said: “COHA served Cummins well for several decades… Architecture remains important to Cummins. We are looking for a buyer that will maintain the architectural integrity of the facility.” It is possible to extend the useful life of buildings. It takes energy, vision and commitment. Let’s hope COHA finds itself the recipient of respect from its new owner.

Donald Trump’s VP pick is from architectural mecca Columbus, Indiana

The New York Times is reporting that Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be Donald Trump's choice for Vice President. Pence hails from Columbus, Indiana, the small Midwest town best known for its world-class collection of High and Late Modern architecture. Pence had long represented the town in the United States House of Representatives before assuming the governorship. Pence was born in Columbus in 1959, and was marinated in modernism. He's a very conservative evangelical Christian who was undoubtedly was influenced by J. Irwin Miller, the industrial mogul and philanthropist who commissioned the town's modern architecture. The Times reports:

A low-key man largely defined in public life by his Christian faith, Mr. Pence, 57, is seen as a cautious choice of running mate — a political partner who is unlikely to embarrass Mr. Trump, and who may help him shore up support among conservative voters still wary of his candidacy.

His staunch conservative views on certain social issues, like gay rights and abortion, may inject a new set of concerns into the general election debate that have been largely overlooked with Mr. Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

For Mr. Trump, selecting Mr. Pence would be a sharp departure from habit, and the surest sign yet that he intends to submit to at least some standard political pressures in the general election.

The Architect's Newspaper will have more on this developing story and what it might mean for the town that has until now avoided this kind of attention.

Columbus, Indiana announces biennial design exhibition to begin in fall 2017

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 Urban Planning 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.”