Here’s Why You Need to Visit Columbus, Indiana This Year



Exhibit Columbus 2019 debuts a rich program exploring the intersection of community and design in America’s hidden design mecca.

An hour south of Indianapolis, past cornfields and barns—icons of America’s agrarian identity—lies another icon altogether: the unlikely design destination of Columbus, Indiana. The Midwestern city is home to masterworks by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, César Pelli, and Alexander Girard—to name just a few. It’s also the site of Exhibit Columbus, a design exhibition that should top your must-visit list this year.

Into the Hedge at Bartholomew County Courthouse Lawn by SO-IL

Into the Hedge by SO-IL is a maze-like hedgerow outside the Bartholomew County Court House.  After the installation, the trees will be used to restore the hedge surrounding the Miller House.

Into the Hedge by SO-IL is a maze-like hedgerow outside the Bartholomew County Court House. After the installation, the trees will be used to restore the hedge surrounding the Miller House.

Photo by Hadley Fruits

Though unlikely, Columbus’s design legacy is no accident. After finding the plans for a local elementary school particularly uninspired, industrialist J. Irwin Miller established the Cummins Foundation in 1954 to pay the architect’s fees for Columbus’s public buildings. Miller believed that by investing in the tangible, the city was thereby investing in the intangible. “Architecture is something you can see. You cannot see a spirit or a temperament or a character, though, and there is an invisible part of this community of which I am very proud because, in a democracy, I think that the process is more important than the product,” he told The Washington Post in 1986. Now spanning decades, the city’s investment in architecture, design, and art is staggering: Columbus has one of the most significant collections of modern design in the world.

UTK Filament Tower at North Christian Church by Marshall Prado

Filament Tower by University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor Marshall Prado is a 30-foot carbon fiber tower that references the spire of Eero Saarinen's North Christian Church behind it.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor Marshall Prado conceived this 30-foot carbon fiber tower that references the spire of Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church behind it.

Photo by Hadley Fruits

Since its founding in 2016, Exhibit Columbus has hosted an annual celebration of art, architecture, and design in this extraordinary modern mecca. For this year’s programming, the team looked to the 1986 National Building Museum exhibition, Good Design and the Community: Columbus, Indiana. More than three decades later, Exhibit Columbus 2019 continues to examine the relationship between good design and community well-being.

The city-wide exhibition features 18 site-specific installations by designers, architects, artists, and academics from across the U.S. and Mexico who were selected based on their work in creating positive change within communities. Brought together in Columbus, the dynamic group has created spaces that are both of and for the community.

Corn / Meal at Central Middle School by MASS Design Group 

MASS Design Group cultivated a cornfield on the grounds of Central Middle School to foster conversation about food production and consumption.

MASS Design Group cultivated a cornfield on the grounds of Central Middle School to foster conversation about food production and consumption.

Photo by Hadley Fruits

See the full story on Dwell.com: Here’s Why You Need to Visit Columbus, Indiana This Year
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