THE COLUMBUS INDIANA ARCHITECTURE STORY
The Chicago Tribune
“Columbus is a small-town architectural mecca.”
Conde Nast Traveler
“One of the world’s best cities for architecture lovers.”
“Are we in Oz?
How was all this possible?”
An unlikely collection of masterworks
Columbus is an improbable town. Every year thousands of visitors arrive to explore its streets and study its buildings, for it is one of the rare places on earth where the idea that architecture can improve the human condition has been put to the test. It’s a small, southern Indiana community with no apparent call to destiny that remarkably became an architectural “mecca.”
Columbus, Indiana, claims a collection that features some of the biggest names in modern art and architecture – which explains why the words “unexpected” and “unforgettable” are regularly overheard on the community’s streets.
”Columbus, Indiana, and J. Irwin Miller are almost holy words in architectural circles,” New York Times‘ architecture critic Paul Goldberger, said.
The story begins with the leadership of a family with a vision and a program rooted in the words of Winston Churchill: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”
The improbable numbers
Columbus is a city of over 47,000, yet The American Institute of Architects ranked it 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design – right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The visitor’s guide lists over 90 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally-noted architects and artists.
The Columbus story is regularly featured in national and international publications. Even if you are not an architecture buff, learning how this small town strives for excellence is both unique and inspiring. For those looking for bucket-list experiences, head straight to the Miller House and Garden Tour to experience the acclaimed masterpiece from the dream team of Eero Sarrinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girard. The Visitors Center guided tours have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor.
The award-winning Columbus architects
Small town, big names
Since the early 1940s some of the world’s finest architects have made Columbus a virtual museum of modern architecture, with works by some of the most enduring names in architecture, like I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, and Deborah Berke, just to name a few. And the public art sprinkled throughout the community includes works by artists such as Henry Moore, Dale Chihuly, Jean Tinguely, and Robert Indiana.
Pictured, Cesar Pelli, who was in Columbus for dedication of his new building, with former Tour Program Manager Joyce Orwin
See a Pinterest board of artists and architects who have worked in Columbus.
“Dazed and amazed at Columbus. I thought I knew this town already. It’s blowing me away up close like.”
“A thriving small town with strong community leadership – and some of the most drop-dead gorgeous public buildings you will ever see.”
“Home again after amazing tour of Columbus. Sad to leave such an amazing place.”
Photos from the J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program
The J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program is uniquely based on twin studio experiences of architectural design and studio art. Cross-pollination of these allied disciplines creates fertile ground for the development of the imagination. Amulti-disciplinary curriculum embolden students to pursue innovation at the intersection of art and architecture.