CUMMINS CORPORATE OFFICE BUILDING
Architect : Kevin Roche of Roche Dinkaloo
Landscape Architect : Jack Curtis
Designed by Kevin Roche (Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates), the Cummins Corporate Office Building serves as the world headquarters for Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 Company and diesel engine manufacturer. The one-story building with a mezzanine level occupies three blocks in downtown Columbus. The zigzag design interacts with a park-like setting on the east side of the building, defined by a portico surrounding the four-story historic Cerealine building, now an employee cafeteria. The office building is primarily cast-in-place octagonal concrete columns with infilled precast concrete spandrels and narrow windows to control noise and direct sun.
From Kevin Roche’s company website:
Located on three redeveloped blocks in downtown Columbus, Indiana, the headquarters accommodates 1,000 employees and is arranged around an existing historic nineteenth century mill building. Tree-shaded surface parking for 700 cars is located across the street and behind the complex. A late-19th century cereal mill had occupied a portion of the site. The mill remains and is the centerpiece of a park that encompasses the headquarters. The mill building is used as an employee cafeteria and training center.
The building is a one-story structure occupying the entire site. A narrow, two-level spine containing enclosed offices and conference rooms borders the high, open-office work area. Windows and mirrored spandrels enhance the feeling of spaciousness. Skylights are designed to provide a warm, natural illumination, without the harsh shadows of direct sunlight. The structure is composed of poured-in-place concrete columns supporting precast concrete wall components. The roof is steel and concrete, with an arched ceiling of fabric-covered acoustical panels.
The main building contains workstations in a series of interlocking high spaces. Conference rooms run in a narrow band through the length of the building. The work space, flanking heavily trafficked streets, has three narrow bands of ribbon windows, each one-foot high, to eliminate problems of noise and sun control. To give a greater feeling of spaciousness, the precast spandrels between the windows are clad in mirror; looking at these walls one sees either beyond to the outside, or beyond to the inside. This interlocking visual system is reversed to take advantage of the landscaped park on the north side. There the narrow windows become beams, and the beams wide windows.
An arcade of columns connects the two embracing ends of the main structure and establishes both the continuity of the street line and the containing wall of the public garden. The strong exterior column expression relates to the portico of the adjacent Post Office Building; and the materials, enclosed garden, and pool also relate to one of the earliest modern buildings built in Columbus – the Tabernacle Church of Christ designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1940, which is located on the other side of the business district. The corner of the building nearest the center of the City is cut away to provide a visitor’s entrance and also to recognize the small park across the street, which is an integral part of the expanded Irwin Union Bank and Trust Company.
Designed by Landscape Architect Jack Curtis of Monroe, Connecticut, the landscape surrounding the Cummins Inc. corporate headquarters creates a park-like setting for the operations of this Fortune 500 Company. The project won a 1991 Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The central park is the main element of the site design with a lake as the central organizing element. The water element surrounds the historic Cerealine building, which functions as the employee cafeteria.
Boston Ivy and Hydrangea cover much of the building’s exterior surface and climb octagonal columns and pergola. On the west side of the building, 99 mature Honey Locusts create a soft boundary between the headquarters building and a large employee parking lot.
Curtis’ other Columbus projects include Cummins Inc. Technical Center, Columbus Visitors Center, Cummins Fuel System Plan, Cummins Engine Plant One, Cummins Child Development Center and Irwin Gardens restorations.
The corporate offices are built on a three-block plot of land that formerly served as a rail yard in downtown Columbus. As part of its distinctive construction, Roche built the new structure around the original Cerealine Building, which once served as Cummins’ first factory and administrative offices.
The Pritzker Prize
In 1982, architect Kevin Roche was awarded the Pritzker Prize, which is given “to honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture…It is granted annually and is often referred to as ‘the architecture’s Nobel’ and ‘the profession’s highest honor.'” (text from the Pritzker Prize website)
The Cummins Corporate Office building is the international headquarters for the Fortune 500 company, noted as one of “the world’s most admired companies,” and the largest employer in the county.
Tour Guide Henry Kuehn (0:41)
Tour Guide Henry Kuehn (2:28)
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Wanda, a visitor to Columbus, posted a YouTube video of her visit to the headquarters, and commented, “What a terrific place this is.” (4:35).
Architect Kevin Roche reflects on his early career. (8:27).
LOCATION : 500 JACKSON STREET, COLUMBUS, INDIANA