To read feature articles about The Miller House and Garden, go here.
For a PDF version of the information below, click here.
- Small Town, Big Modernists
- "This is a story that reaches across generations, illuminating the ways in which the history of modern architecture in America is intertwined with the histories of industrial development, private enterprise, and public service. It’s a story firmly rooted in Midwestern culture, but it’s as much a story about Indiana as it is about the country as a whole − getting right to the heart of one fundamental question: what is the value of investing in public architecture?"
- "In 1953, Miller bought a 13.5-acre plot of land on the northwestern edge of Columbus and asked Eero Saarinen to design his family’s home there. Over the next four years Saarinen, along with interior designer Alexander Girard and landscape architect Daniel Kiley, worked to create what would become one of a handful of iconic glass houses signaling the advent of modernism in America, alongside Philip Johnson’s Glass House (1949), Charles and Ray Eames’ Pacific Palisades House (1949), Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (1951), and Eliot Noyes’ house in New Canaan (1954)."
- "The buildings may serve a secondary function as archi-tourist attractions, but unlike much pilgrimage-worthy architecture, they serve primarily as inhabited, functional public spaces. Miller’s greatest achievement was not to persuade the giants of modernism to descend on a sleepy midwestern town. It was to make well-designed architecture ubiquitous and accessible enough to seem entirely warranted in a normal place. It was, overall, to make great architecture seem entirely....ordinary."
- Issue 14, "Small Towns, Big Architecture"
- See the full article HERE >
- Street Savvy : Columbus
- "This newly minted Indiana cultural district builds on its reputation for cool design"
- "Known as Columbus's 'living room,' The Commons now houses a wickedly cool (and free) indoor playground."
- "Owner Anthony Moravec considered every detail when restoring Zaharakos, an ice-cream parlor opened in 1900 and still known for its striking Green River sodas The museum section has one of the world's largest collections of marble soda fountains."
- "The Columbus Area Visitors Center gift shop - recently doubled in size - carries certified Indiana Artisan handicrafts and a wide selection of books on (what else?) architecture. Arrive good and early to shop first."
- Read a PDF of the full article here. See it at the Indianapolis Monthly website here.
- August 2013
Modern in Denver
The New York Times
- The Modern in Denver Photo Essay: A Day in the Life
- "Joseph Irwin Miller fascinates me. Here is an individual who single-handedly shaped the architectural landscape of his entire hometown of Columbus, Indiana...
- "Although the house has been photographed many times over the years (including by two of the greatest modernist photographers, Ezra Stoller and Balthazar Korab), I was excited to capture it through my own lens.
- "...I also had the opportunity to take a journey into the other places where Mr. Miller spent his days: his office (which hasn't been photographed since a 1962 article in Progressive Architecture), the bank where he was chairman (it was the first glass-walled, open plan bank in the country) and his church (the last building built by architect Eero Saarinen).
- "... I left with a greater appreciation of just how important good design is in our daily lives and how one person can have a dynamic influence on the built environment.
- By David Lauer, Summer 2013
- For a scanned PDF of this article, click here.
- An Indiana Town Where Big Names Built
- “I. M.
Pei’s low, red-brick library on Fifth Street is just down the street
and around the corner from the 139-year-old Bartholomew County
Courthouse. A short walk from the courthouse is Paul Kennon’s AT&T
Switching Station, with red, blue and yellow curved tubular sections
resembling giant, colorful crayons. A few blocks away is Kevin Roche’s
low, glass-walled Cummins Corporate Headquarters building with
vine-covered trellises. A half-moon of glass is the three-story Columbus
City Hall designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, also in the
center of town.”
- by Nancy Kriplen, May 10, 2013
Midwest Living website
- Columbus selected as Indiana’s Winter Getaway destination
more in Columbus, Indiana, a small city with a reputation for big
design! For half a century, Columbus has been the canvas for world-class
architects, boasting 70+ masterpieces of modern architecture and public
art. For family fun, visit the community’s three-story children’s
museum, a mind-blowing indoor playground and a turn-of-the-century ice
cream parlor, all located within one block.”
- January 2013
U.S. Department of the Interior
- Republic Newspaper Office Named National Historic Landmark
U.S. Department of the Interior named The Republic newspaper as the
seventh Columbus structure to be named an historic landmark, saying:
“The Republic is an exceptional work of modern architecture and one of
the best examples of the work of Myron Goldsmith, a general partner in
the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and a highly respected
architect, architectural theorist, writer, and educator.”
- October 2012
American History Magazine
- As American as Modern Architecture
- In the
introduction to the issue, the editors say, “the pity is that thousands
of pictures and words are unlikely to communicate the wonder of this
has six registered National Historic Landmarks of only 2,500 in the
country. It is as though Columbus had a fabled ball team who happened to
be designers, a Field of Dreams for the drafting-board set.”
- by William L. Hamilton, October 2012
NPR Weekend Edition
- Columbus, Indiana: A Midwestern Mecca Of Architecture
town, in the middle of soybean country, is a mecca of architecture. The
greatest designers, I.M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Cesar Pelli,
Richard Meijer, Harry Weese, James Polshek, a veritable who’s who of
modern masters, have done more than sixty public buildings here. (The
American Institute of Architects ranks Columbus) right up there with
Chicago, New York, San Francisco, the big guys. Amazing, for a town with
just 44,000 residents.
Miller House and Garden is) a stunning, light-filled, 1957 house by
Eero Saarinen, the white marble and glass house which could be a set for
Mad Men,’ but with better ethics.
- ...At a
Cummins plant just outside of town, doing better is a theme posted on
workstation wall signs. One in the lady’s room says, “Treating people
with dignity and respect is a core value at Cummins.”
- by Susan Stamberg, aired on on August 4, 2012
- Hear the NPR audio here.
- Columbus, Indiana, alive with modern architecture
no city anywhere quite like Columbus, Indiana...you have a public
library designed by I.M. Pei across the street from a church designed by
the great Finnish-American architect Eliel Saarinen, a fire station by
Philadephia’s Robert Venturi, an elementary school by New York’s Richard
Meier, a hospital by Robert A.M. Stern, also of New York, a town hall
by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and the list goes on
and on - Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, Harry Weese, Edward Larabee Barnes,
and many more, all of whom would definitely be hall-of-famers if there
were a Cooperstown for architects...Slogans promoting small-town tourism
tend to be insipid. But not in Columbus. Their slogan rings totally
true: “Columbus, Indiana: Unexpected. Unforgettable.”
- by John Conti, June 23, 2012
Area Development Magazine
- Columbus Ranked First in Nation for Economic & Job Growth
Development ranked 365 MSAs across 23 economic and workforce growth
indicators. In the results we see that even amid the recessionary gloom,
there were blooms of prosperity, and there are some places that have
gotten back on their feet faster than others.”
“Ranking 1st among the
100 Leading Locations overall, the small Indiana city of Columbus also
led Area Development’s Top 20 Midwest Cities and Top 25 Small Cities
rankings. Among small cities, Columbus placed 3rd in “Economic Strength”
factors, 4th in “Prime Workforce Growth,” and 5th for its
- Summer 2012
Conde Nast Traveler
- One of the World’s Best Cities for Architecture Lovers
- Columbus is listed alongside fourteen cities in the world, such as Oxford, England and Florence, Italy.
14 cities—some iconic, others surprising—embody certain eras of
architecture so much that they provide travelers with living, breathing
(and free) design exhibits . . . Columbus, Indiana has a population of
only 44,000, but it’s a surprising trove of Modernism: The town claims
more than 70 buildings designed by star architects, including I.M. Pei,
Eero Saarinen, and Richard Meier...”
- June 2012
- In Search of Excellence: A trip to Columbus, Indiana,
reveals the architectural genius of Eero Saarinen
in this bucolic place conjured up the reasons that we—who live in big
bombastic cities—were drawn here. Whether we were crossing the
traditional main street, with its old-fashioned ice cream parlor, or
ambling through tree-lined neighborhoods, we encountered buildings by
Gunnar Birkerts, I. M. Pei, and Robert Venturi, the stars that now
populate our modernist and postmodernist firmament.”
- by Susan S. Szenasy, Editor in Chief, posted June 8, 2012
- One of America’s Best Small Towns for Business
Shultz, the author of Boomtown, USA and an authority on economic
development for rural America, put Columbus, Indiana on his list of the
top ten small towns for business in America.
- June 2012
League of American Bicyclists
- Bike-Friendly City Recognition
was cited as one of Indiana’s seven bike-friendly communities by The
League of American Bicyclists. The Bicycle Friendly America program
recognizes communities that actively support bicycling.
- May 2012
- One of America’s Prettiest Towns
as the ‘Athens of the Prairie,’ Columbus, Indiana, is an unexpected
municipal gem. The Midwestern town is home to a dizzying selection of
public buildings and sculptures wrought by icons such as I.M. Pei, Eero
Saarinen and Richard Meier...”
“Considering that it’s such a small
town, it’s an amazing place to visit,” says Don Wildman, host of Off
Limits and Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel. “It’s an
incredible architectural town, and the whole place has that kind of vibe
- March 29, 2012
- Columbus, Indiana Rediscovered
the obvious architectural hubs in the United States, such as Chicago,
New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., Columbus has a
came, too (and continue to come). Dale Chihuly designed not one, but
two amazing pieces. Most recently, he created the Sun Garden Panels in
Suspended Circle for the Columbus Learning Center.”
- by Judi Ketteler, posted December 14, 2011
AARP The Magazine
- 10 Affordable Cities for Retirement
heard of Columbus? That’s fine - residents love this little city’s
under-the-radar charm. Less than an hour south of Indianapolis and east
of Bloomington, Columbus has it all: design cognoscenti say the city’s
innovative architecture ranks right up there with Chicago’s and San
- Sept./Oct. 2011
House & Garden UK
- Modern Arcadia
sleekly minimalist garden by Dan Kiley at the Miller House in Columbus,
Indiana is...the landscape equivalent of the architecture world’s
Farnsworth House in Illinois, the celebrated glass-walled building by
Mies van der Rohe.”
- “The result of his first flush of enthusiasm is perhaps the purest expression of landscape modernism in existence.”
simplicity of these spaces and the basic palette of different greens -
in the grass, the trees, and the boundary hedge of clipped arbor vitae -
create an intense, Arcadian atmosphere of rationality and calm.”
- by Tim Richardson, November 2010
- Columbus, Ind is an Architectural Treasure
we saw numerous public and private buildings, all of superior design,
the highlight of the tour for me was seeing several incredible examples
of the partnership between Eero Saarinen and modern landscape architect
Dan Kiley. This powerful design team should ring a bell with St.
Louisans — Saarinen and Kiley worked together to design the Gateway Arch
and surrounding grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
They also worked together on the Irwin Union Bank in downtown Columbus,
completed in 1954. With original furniture by George Nelson, another
father of modernist design, the building remains a functional piece of
- by Amy Burger, August 8, 2010
- Columbus, Ind. — Glitter Amid the Rust
the heart of the so-called Rust Belt lies an extraordinary example of
what vision and open-mindedness did for a central Indiana industrial
town set amid farm fields . . . Columbus, however, is a town that lifts
your spirits. It is a community enhanced by modern architecture that
dates from the 1950s to present, designed by notable names such as Eliel
Saarinen and his son Eero, Harry Weese, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Richard
Meier and Robert Venturi. Some 60 architectural gems — schools, a
library, churches, banks, a post office, fire stations, a newspaper and
offices — make you ooh and aah.”
- by Alfred Borcover, March 22, 2010
New York Post
- 50 states in 50 weeks: Columbus selected as Indiana’s destination city
all so quaint and, well...typically Midwestern. But Columbus is also, in
fact, wonderfully atypical. It’s a design mecca, with more than 60
important Modernist buildings - seven of them designated National
Historic Landmarks - by a who’s-who of architectural heavies...” She
goes on to describe some of the people she met here:
made Columbus so appealing to me - important architecture
notwithstanding - were the people. Like the bartender at the 4th Street
Bar, who recalled my name and my drink after serving me just once. Or
the owner of Zaharakos, who proudly demonstrated the restaurant’s
restored orchestrions (automated organs). Or the incredibly
knowledgeable tour guides who volunteered their time showing off the
town’s architectural gems. And even the Hotel Indigo’s resident dog,
Miles, who greeted me with a furiously wagging tail. They were
hardworking, friendly...and well, Midwestern.”
- by Jennifer Ceaser, December 2009
Ralph Lauren Magazine
- Modernist Mecca
something different about Columbus, Indiana, and it’s immediately
apparent as you approach the town from the I-65 interchange. Rising out
of the rolling fields of soybeans, a triangular red suspension bridge
slung across the White River announces the departure from the norm.
Somewhat improbably, this small city of 39,000—hometown to basketball
great Chuck Taylor—happens to house 60-odd gems of 20th-century
architecture. As such, the town that Lady Bird Johnson dubbed “the
Athens of the prairie” makes an ideal day trip or weekend getaway for
A-and-D buffs.” (Footnote: Columbus’ population is currently 44,000)
- by Sarah P. Hanson, 2009, Vol. 11, Issue 3
- Hot Fudge and History
- “In this small southern Indiana town famous for modern architecture, the newest attraction is actually quite old."
nothing like this in the country today,” Moravec said about Zaharakos,
where the original maple floors from the 1890s are the stage for a slew
of antiques. The shop’s 1908 Welte orchestrion, a self-playing organ
that sounds like an orchestra, is all tuned up and ready to roll. The
50-foot-long double backbar of mahogany, marble and mirrors looks good
as new, even though it’s nearly a century old.
in the ‘40s, Zaharakos is where (J. Irwin) Miller used to talk about
modern design with the likes of Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames over ice
cream. This also happens to be where a pretty little soda jerk caught
Miller’s eye. “He met his wife here in Zaharakos,” Moravec said. “She
served him his first banana split.”
- June 3, 2009
AOL.COM / travel.AOL.COM
- Top 10 Things to See Before You Die
writer Jordan Simon listed Columbus, Indiana among his “Top 10 Things
to See in the U.S. Before You Die” on Aol.com. Columbus was listed
alongside the likes of Charleston, S.C., the Grand Canyon, and
Yellowstone National Park.
- “For a
small city, Columbus is a major repository of modern architecture, with
works by luminaries like Eero Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, and Richard Meier.
This destination says design from the get go...”
was selected as one of three Indiana cities for Relocate-America’s Top
100 Places to Live in 2009, which noted the frequent accolades the city
receives “aren’t without good reason with the city’s impeccable art,
lush landscaping, a first-rate park system, and of course, the
Columbus Chamber named 2009 Chamber of the Year
July 2009, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the American Chamber of Commerce
Executives (ACCE) awarded the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce the 2009
Chamber of the Year. The award recognizes excellence in operations,
member services, and community leadership. The Chamber has been focusing
on three critical areas: building on the power of place and the
region’s economic strengths, creating a sense of community, and
fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Last year they
received the 2008 Indiana Chamber of the Year.
Fortune Small Business magazine
- Columbus was selected as one of America’s Top 100 best places to live and launch a business.
- May 2008
National Geographic Traveler
- Ranked Number 1 of all U.S. destinations
- Columbus is ranked 11th out of 109 historic destinations worldwideby National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, higher than any other U.S. destination. The
magazine says Columbus has “a world-class collection of modern
architecture by master architects . . . it is authentic, unique, and
unspoiled . . . this town is truly part of America’s architectural
- Nov/Dec 2008
American Institute of Architects
- Sixth in the nation for architectural innovation and design
Indiana (population 44,000) is ranked sixth in the nation for
architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of
Architects, right behind Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston and
National Register of Historic Places
of the downtown is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
In a highly unusual move, the even more exclusive National Historic
Landmarks program honored the city by accepting six locations
- Columbus was named one of the nation’s “most walkable” communities
in April 2008 by Dan Burden, Executive Director of Walkable
Communities, after a visit to the city. He has given the title to just
100 of the 2,500 cities he has visited, and noted that Columbus has the
cleanest alleys of any city he has visited, and said “that shows you pay
attention to detail.”
United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)
National Association of Sports Commissions named the Columbus Visitors
Center its 2008 “Member of the Year” in recognition of the tremendous
growth of its sports tourism efforts. Since 2003, the number of major
amateur sporting events in Columbus has more than doubled.
Columbus Area Visitors Center received the “Distinguished Service Award”
from the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) at their
2008 national meeting. The award was presented in recognition of the
Visitor Center’s “Outstanding and Continuous Support to the USSSA
Program” during the past five years. Columbus was the only visitor
bureau recognized by USSSA during the annual meeting.
New York Times
- Columbus “just happens to have the most incredible collection of modern architecture in the Midwest (outside of Chicago…).”
- June 12, 2007
100 Best Communities for Young People
County was named one of 2007’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by
America’s Promise - The Alliance for Youth. The award recognizes
communities that provide children with exposure to caring adults, safe
places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to
- A top-rated public golf course
Creek Golf Course made Golfweek magazine’s top ten list for Indiana’s
public access courses. The course, which features 18 holes designed by
Robert Trent Jones Sr. and nine holes designed by Rees Jones, ranked 5th
among Indiana courses.
June 2006, Otter Creek Golf Course was voted the number one public
course in the state by the Indiana Golf Association. Otter Creek was
“head and shoulders above the rest,” said the director of the IGA-PGA.)
- March 2007
America in Bloom winner
won the competitive 2006 America in Bloom national competition for the
population category 25,001-50,000. Eight core categories were judged,
such as heritage, urban forestry, and floral displays. The city won on
its first attempt, a rare achievement. It was also chosen “Best of the
Best” for landscape design, citing Irwin Gardens, its national landscape
design awards, and its park and trail system.
- Columbus Explored
- “ (the
new branch of Irwin Union bank designed by architect Deborah Berke is) a
study in precise minimalism...” as well as “one of the simplest and
most sublime structures to have been built in the U.S. in recent
before Richard Florida began touting the gospel of the creative class,
(J. Irwin) Miller understood the wisdom of nurturing a well-rounded
community where intelligent people wouldn’t mind settling down.”
fact, Columbus is one of the last remaining footholds of an architecture
that, while often fabulous, just doesn’t quite fit in anywhere else.”
this domino effect, with quality buildings attracting more quality
buildings, which Deborah Berke argues, sets Columbus’s experience apart
from the flash-in-the-pan ‘Bilbao Effect’ that so many other towns find
when they turn to sensational architecture in search of economic
has become a town that invites architectural tourism without
fetishising architecture, that warrants closer attention without
requiring excessing analysis.”
- by John King, July/Aug 2006
- Best in the Midwest
people of Columbus live, breathe and use their architecture, constantly
aware of what it does for them without stepping into self-conscious
nestled amid corn and soybean fields halfway between Indianapolis and
Louisville, is a veritable museum of modern architecture.
- by Eva Hagberg, Aug. 2006
- By Design
- “Columbus, says Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, is a ‘small-town architectural mecca.’”
downtown Columbus, the telephone switching station looks playful with
its heating and air conditioning units encased in giant crayon-colored
pipes. It is the work of Paul Kennon, whose son Kevin recently designed a
local community college building. ‘I grew up imbued with the mythology
of Columbus,’ says Kevin Kennon.”
- by Clay Risen, Dec. 2005
- The Economy of Modernism
- “...the people of Columbus fell in love with modern architecture,
and modern architecture in turn fell in love with Columbus.”“What’s
remarkable about Columbus is not so much the astonishing fact that this
small town has 65 buildings by world-class modern architects as that it
wears them so well.”
- “I feel a great big ‘aha!’ coming on as I drive around town. This
is what modernism is supposed to feel like.”“Columbus is the nation’s
finest example of how enlightened corporate titans and local citizens
have discovered that the place of art is at the root of, not just the
expression of, economic vitality.”
- Hillary Johnson, July/August 200
And still more accolades...
- The December, 2005 issue of Smithsonian magazine called Columbus a “veritable museum of modern architecture.”
- Columbus was named to the 2005 list of U.S. Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
was the only Indiana city featured in the June 3, 2005 issue of USA
Today in the article “Ten Great Places to Discover Midwest Charm.”
- Columbus was cited in the “62 Reasons to Love Your Country” in the July 2005 issue of GQ Magazine.
- Columbus was selected in 2004 as one of the Ten Most Playful Towns in America by Nick Jr. Family Magazine.
is featured in the book “1,000 Places To See in the USA and Canada
Before You Die,” published by Workman Publishing Company.
was ranked as one of the country’s safest metropolitan areas (6th out
of 339) by America’s Safest (and Most Dangerous) Cities for 2005.
- Columbus was ranked 56th in The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America by John Villani, published in 1996.
Daily, an on-line newsletter published by American City Business
Journals, used 20 sets of statistics to rate the quality of life in 632
small cities. Columbus scored 98.8 out of a hundred and ranked 4th in
the US in cities of 10,000-50,000. Published September, 2000.
New Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities (Prometheus Books,
1997) ranked small cities that they labeled “micropolitans,” with
populations of 15,000-50,000, on 10 qualities.