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Exhibit Columbus opens signaling a Columbus renaissance
Oyler Wu, The Exchange.


COLUMBUS, IN.- Columbus is a small Indiana city with a global reputation for its modernist architecture, art, and landscapes. Exhibit Columbus is an ongoing initiative to spark new explorations in architecture, art, design, and community.

With a population of only 45,000 and more than 80 buildings, landscapes, and pieces of public art by internationally noted architects and artists, Columbus, Indiana, consistently ranks as a top city for its size. Landmark Columbus is keeping this spirit of innovation in design and fabrication alive through a multi-year initiative called Exhibit Columbus.

With an inaugural symposium in fall of 2016 and its first exhibition now open and running through late November 2017, Exhibit Columbus seeks to celebrate Columbus’ design heritage, while making it relevant to new audiences. The initial 2016 and 2017 programs will be followed by another symposium and exhibition in 2018 and 2019, creating a new, ambitious cycle of events. Exhibit Columbus is a new exhibition model, a citywide art and design festival — similar to the Chicago Architectural Biennial, Prospect New Orleans, and Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The 2017 exhibition of Exhibit Columbus includes 18 site-responsive installations that connect with and comment on Columbus’ design legacy. Visiting the exhibition is free and open to the public; programming will attract world-renowned designers, historians, and fabricators, while at the same time bring together local residents and community groups to consider design challenges.

“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 community spirit, while pointing to the future so the next generation continues to experience a community of tremendous vibrancy, just as the last generation did.”

“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 globally relevant. Everything we are doing is about honoring the past, while pointing toward the future.”

Exhibit Columbus’s inaugural 2017 exhibition is a citywide celebration with numerous components. The centerpiece of Exhibit Columbus is the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize installations. This competition’s name honors the legacy of two of twentieth century’s greatest patrons of architecture, art, and design, and a family whose visionary commitment to community remains unparalleled. In addition to the Miller Prize installations, the 2017 exhibition also features installations by international designers, students, and professors from Midwestern universities, and students from local schools – spread throughout the town of Columbus and all creating a dialogue with the town’s existing design heritage.

The Miller Prize
​Ten internationally renowned architects, artists, and designers were selected to compete for five Miller Prizes. Through a juried competition, five winners were awarded Miller Prizes and the opportunity to design and build temporary installations in response to – and in dialogue with – one of five Miller Prize sites, two of which are National Historic Landmarks and each a Columbus icon.

The proposals were judged on their formal/spatial relationships to the site, ability to activate the space, innovation in the use of materials, and potential to stimulate a dialogue with the context of the site.

The 2017 Miller Prize winners are:

Wiikiaami at First Christian Church by studio:indigenous (Principal: Chris Cornelius)
Inspired by the dwellings of the Miyaamia people indigenous to Indiana, Cornelius adorns a walkway leading to First Christian Church with a contemporary “wigwam” - wiikiaami in the Miyaamia 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.

Conversation Plinth at Cleo Rogers Memorial Library by IKD (Principals: Tomomi Itakura and Yugon Kim)
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 plans to collaborate with cross-laminated timber (CLT) specialists to develop CLT made from Indiana hardwood by-products, potentially revolutionizing an industry that currently uses softwoods.

Untitled at Irwin Conference Center by Oyler Wu Collaborative (Principals: Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu)
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- 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.

Anything can happen in the woods at Cummins Corporate Office Building by Plan B Architecture & Urbanism (Principals: Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis)
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 - conversation pits, outdoor rooms, and grass-covered mounds - punctuate the mirrored woodland, enticing viewers to explore and inhabit a space that is usually passed through or passed by.

Another Circle at Mill Race Park by Aranda\Lasch (Principals: Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch)
Another Circle by Aranda\Lasch responds to the strong formal and architectural elements already present in Mill Race Park, using 2,800 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, a beach, a riverfront and areas for games and relaxation: a loose gathering of function inside a scattering of stone.

The 2016 Miller Prize guest jurors were Sean Anderson, associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art (NY); Lise Anne Couture, co-founder and principal, Asymptote Architecture (NY); Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF); and Dung Ngo, publisher, August Editions (NY).

Members of the community representing each of the Miller Prize sites on the jury were: Jason Hatton, executive director, Bartholomew County Public Library; Mark Jones, director, Columbus Parks and Recreation; Brad Manns, executive director of Global Integrated Services-Facilities, Cummins Inc; and Larry Ruble, archivist, First Christian Church.





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