Columbus IN – Oz for Architecture Nerds
Columbus IN, where is that? I mean, I went to college in Indiana – Butler University – a place one might go to school if they are interested in Pharmacy or Dance. Both of Margaret’s really strong points, no?
Most certainly I’ve driven through, in and around Indiana for many years but it was only recently that I heard about Columbus IN.
A mythical town, filled with architecture from the greatest architects of their time?
I can’t believe it took me even this long to make it, but make it to Columbus I did and I’m so pleased. It was completely worth it and I walked away with a new motto. So, total bonus.
Columbus IN is a town of about 45,000 people and it’s a playground of great architecture. How did this happen? What is up with this town?
It all starts with the hiring of Eliel Saarinen to design the First Christian Church in 1942. This was a surprising design for a church, square and bulky, it surprised people:
After that, the beauty of Columbus IN comes from a man named J. Irwin Miller who worked for Cummins Engine Co. Miller believed that architecture made a difference, that it would influence the people who lived there. He needed a town that high-level MIT grads would want to live in, he needed to make his town attractive and only wanted the best. In his words? “Mediocrity is expensive.” (New motto!)
He said, if the school board picked out of five architects listed, he would pay the architect’s fees and 10% of the project would be paid by the foundation, not taxpayers.
The town still works like this, with decisions made by a public officials and because of that, Columbus IN is freaking fantastic. Here are some of my favorites:
How cool is this? In Chicago, we know SOM as being the designers of the Sears Tower (ahem.). The mirrored entrance does a fine job of highlighting the courthouse across the street. It’s also a really grand feeling to walk up to this building, like you’re the Queen of Columbus – I swear to pete.
Single story, glass building, so Miesian, so Chicago, I noticed it right away. The clear walls also added to the idea of transparency so you could see what was happening in your newspaper building. It used to be that the big yellow printing presses were right in the windows like a piece of functional art.
Here’s a bus stop. Seriously. Even the bus stops are freaking cool.
Goodness. How is this for absolute gorgeousness? The lines, the shading, the lighting, the shadows and it all works. In Chicago we know Kevin Roche for the Leo Burnett Building.
I FREAKING LOVE THIS BUILDING. I love how pretty it is and I love the people out in front sleeping on it. It was kind of a chilly day but those bricks must have felt delicious. I love the red. I love the horizontal. Love it, love it, love it. The sculpture is “Large Art” by Henry Moore. Chicago has a Henry Moore sculpture too.
What’s so amazing here is that these are just a few of the buildings. The whole town is done up, there are 77 sites listed on the brochure.
If you head to the Visitor’s Center, of course they were very helpful, you can buy a map for 3$ and they also offer walking tours. HOW COOL.
I’ll be back Columbus! Overnight this time, so I can see all of it. ALL OF IT.