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?
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.
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 only 46,000, 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. – which puts Columbus ahead of Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. The visitor’s map lists over 75 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally-noted architects and artists.
The Columbus story is regularly featured in national and international publications, You can read excerpts here. 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.
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 above at left, Cesar Pelli in Columbus for dedication with Volunteer and Tour Program Manager Joyce Orwin / pictured above at right, Deborah Berke (Dean of Yale School of Architecture) enjoys showing Columbus to Yale students
See a Pinterest board of artists and architects who have worked in Columbus HERE.
Learn about the art and architecture of Fifth Street, known as “The Avenue of the Architects” (4:56)
Bloggers who write about, and love, architecture wrote about their visits to Columbus…
Best Architecture Tour Ever. Ever! Modernism architecture tour to end all tours.
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.
The Pritzker Prize
Winners in Columbus
The Pritzker Prize is awarded each year to a living architect or architects for significant achievement in the field and is the profession’s highest honor. Previous winners of the Pritzker Prize include Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, and Zaha Hadid. Four architects with works in Columbus have been recognized with the award. See photos and links below.
In 1994 the award ceremony was held at The Commons in Columbus, Indiana. View video from the event HERE.
Screenshots from www.pritzkerprize.com > click on images to visit the pages
- Learn about J. Irwin and Xenia Miller, community leaders and benefactors
- One small city – seven national historic landmarks!
- View the guide to the Columbus art and architecture
- When Charles Osgood and CBS came to town
- A list of all the architects with work in Columbus
- The Landscape architects of Columbus – Dan Kiley, Michael Van Valkenburg, Jack Curtis
- The Harry Weese legacy in Columbus
- Read about The Cummins Foundation Architecture Program
- About Charles Sparrell, creator of many Columbus historic buildings
- View the 2007 version of the Columbus Visitors Center video (15:15)