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MOBILE MAP STOPS 61 – 66

First Financial Bank, Harry Weese

61 – First Financial Bank

Harry Weese designed the gray-glazed brick bank (formerly Irwin Union Bank and Trust) in 1961 and Thomas Beeby designed the seamless addition in 1996. The building is sited along the Haw Creek and it blends with two nearby bridges.

The four brick towers, which originally housed drive-up windows and a depository, as well as mechanical units above, provide a prominent identity for the bank. The gray-glazed brick recalled the concrete of the adjacent bridge abutments. The architect said the “battlement towers” and adjacent creek were reminiscent of a child’s version of a castle.

The entry is a split-level with stairs stepping up to the main space and side stairs on both sides continuing up to the bank manager’s office on the open mezzanine level, featuring exceptional views.

The 1996 addition created a modern drive-up banking canopy, requiring fewer tellers. The canopy is supported by smaller brick towers, similar to the entry towers.

Schmitt Elementary - Harry Weese

62 – Schmitt Elementary

This was the first building constructed under the Cummins architecture program. The Baby Boom was in full swing, the need for new schools in Columbus was a growing concern. J. Irwin Miller, as the CEO of Cummins Engine Co. made an offer to the school board to pay the architect’s design fees for a new school with an architect chosen by the school board from a list provided by Cummins. The Lillian Schmitt Elementary School launched what would become the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program.

This school (like most of Columbus elementary schools) was named for a community educator, Miss Lillian C. Schmitt who taught in the Columbus school system for 43 years.

The original 1957 building consisted of a kindergarten area and 12 classrooms designed by Harry Weese in close collaboration with Brewster (Bruce) Adams. In the center of the structure was a hexagonal multi-purpose room.

Weese kept the building low to the ground, much like the houses in the surrounding neighborhood, so as not to overwhelm the children in their introduction to school. The building is a natural blend of brick, glass, and wood, with a peaked roofline on each classroom designed to resemble a little house.

Take me to Schmitt Elementary.

Schmitt School - Leers, Weinzapfel

63 – Schmitt Elementary Addition

The 1991 addition was designed by Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel at the same time they were designing the addition to the nearby Northside Middle School, which is also by Harry Weese. The red steel in both structures complements other community projects, such as Mill Race Park and the gateway bridges.

In 2007, Leers, Weinzapfel & Associates were awarded the Architecture Firm of the Year Award by The American Institute of Architects.

Take me to Schmitt Elementary.

Northside Middle School - Harry Weese

64 – Northside Middle School

This three-story building is distinguished by the repetitive use of brick arches (on the interior as well as the exterior) over the windows. It is very reminiscent of the old Mooney Tannery which used to sit in the Mill Race Park area.

The building is a compact rectangle of brick and masonry bearing wall construction. Harry Weese described the building as “a firm statement of the dignity and prominence in the community that a school should possess.”

This three-story building is in contrast to the sprawling, mostly one-level, schools built during this time period. Unlike many architects, Harry Weese buildings never had a definitive signature look, which might become identified as “Weese.” Each of his buildings were an attempt to solve the unique design problem at hand.

Take me to Northside School.

Northside Middle School addition by Leers Weinzapfel

65 – Northside Middle School Addition

The 1991 addition was designed by Leers and Weinzapfel at the same time they were designing the addition to the nearby Schmitt School, whichi s also by Harry Weese. The red steel in both structures plays off the “Columbus Red” seen in other community projects, such as the Saitowitz structures at Mill Race Park and the gateway bridges. Leers, Weinzapfel & Associates were The American Institute of Architects recipients of the Architecture Firm of the Year Award in 2007.

Take me to Northside School.

North Christian Church interior - Eero Saarinen

66 – North Christian Church

Visitors are welcome to view the interior of this church on weekdays (subject to availability) – all guests must check in at the office, enter from the main parking lot on the east side of the building.

Eero Saarinen designed North Christian Church, which was completed in 1964. This is the last building designed by Eero Saarinen before his untimely death on September 1, 1961. Roche Dinkeloo & Associates, the successor architectural firm, completed the building.

The sloping roof of this six-sided building blends with the landscaped earth-mound which surrounds it. This low line accentuates the slender 192-foot spire, topped with a gold-leaf cross, which gives its distinctive design. Dan Kiley landscaped the multi-acre site.

In April 1961, Saarinen wrote, “We have finally to solve this church so that it can become a great building. I feel I have this obligation to the congregation, and as an architect, I have that obligation to my profession and my ideals. I want to solve it so that as an architect when I face St. Peter I am able to say that out of the buildings I did during my lifetime, one of the best was this little church, because it has in it a real spirit that speaks forth to all Christians as a witness to their faith.”

The sloping roof of this six-sided building blends with the landscaped earth mound which surrounds it. This low line accentuates the slender 192 foot spire, topped with a five and a half foot tall gold leaf cross, which gives the church its distinctive design.

Direct natural light enters the sanctuary through an oculus high in the ceiling at the base of the spire, and other natural lighting is diffused from under the edge of the roof line.

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