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North Side, Stops 70-77


This guide is intended as a supplement to the $3 art and architecture guide that is available at the Visitors Center at 506 Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.

Richards School, aerial

70 – Richards Elementary

Richards School features a distinctive roofline of bold slopes forming a saw-toothed silhouette meant to be reminiscent of the factories of our industrial heritage.

Richards Elementary School features bold sloping roofs forming serrated silhouettes. The distinctive high spine of this building is created by the set of four 28-foot high clerestories above the gym and cafeteria in the center of the school.

These saw-toothed roofs with skylights provide maximum natural studiotype lighting and additional wall space in the classrooms.

Each of the six grades are housed in a three-room cluster. Each room has its own outside exit opening onto small plaza areas.

The roof silhouette and small courts break down the scale of this large structure into the appearance of a small village. Note that porthole windows in the classroom doors and other appointments are at a child’s height.

Take me to Richards School.

North Christian Church interior - Eero Saarinen

71 – 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.

St. Bartholomew Church

72 – St. Bartholomew

The church’s unique roof shape from the nautilus plan creates a large uplifting space above the large quarter circle, spiraling down to create a more intimate seating area. Two large north and east facing clerestory windows result, providing natural lighting and featuring an abstract stained glass window.

The “perfect” shapes and regulating lines of the golden section and square are used throughout the building.
Primary building materials are golden buff Kasota limestone with three finish textures (rough cut, honed, and polished) and diamond shaped copper shingles.

The site is landscaped on the north with large natural stones tiered to allow natural light into the basement level.

The stained Glass is by artist Elizabeth Devereaux of Chico, California.

Northside Middle School - Harry Weese

73 – 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.

Schmitt Elementary - Harry Weese

74 – 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.

Former Irwin Union Bank - Hope

75 – Former Irwin Union Bank, Hope

Designed by Harry Weese, with Ben Weese as project manager, this was formerly a branch of Irwin Union Bank, located on the west side of the downtown square in Hope, Indiana. It is a simple rectangular plan with twelve pyramidal roofs on the exterior and the interior.

The roof/ceiling “floats” above the exterior brick walls with a glass clerestory window on all sides. The roof is supported by small steel columns that are only three inches square at the top and bottom, and larger in the middle.

The building entry includes an additional pyramidal canopy at the front and a full glass window. The entry is an detailed glass vestibule including a glass ceiling. The interior vault and enclosed offices are kept below the clerestory windows, allowing the entire interior volume of the building, with its multiple peaked ceiling, to be experienced when in the main space.

The exterior rust red brick is simply detailed with soldier course sills at the clerestory windows and recessed corners that feature round downspouts which appear to support the floating roof.

Hope Branch Library, Deborah Berke

76 – Hope Branch Library

The Hope Branch of the Bartholomew County Public is situated on the east side of the Town Square in Hope, designed by Deborah Berke in 1998. Large windows, providing natural light for a comfortable daytime reading environment, dominate the high-ceilings and asymmetrical reading room.

The library serves as an after-school gathering center in this small town and is designed to be an inviting, child-friendly place.

Berke became dean of Yale School of Architecture in July 2016. Deborah Berke also designed the First Financial Creekview bank branch in Columbus.

Take me to the Hope library branch.

Hope Elementary

77 – Hope Elementary

Hope Elementary was designed by Taft Architects and is located on the outskirts of Hope. The architects gathered ideas from teachers, students, board members and the community to develop a building with sufficient storage, large windows, a regulation-sized gym, functionality and the ability to operate it economically.

The center hallway is the “main street” of the building with large foyers at each end. It creates a mall-like appearance with classroom windows interspersed with masonry pillars.

An old one-room school building has also been moved to the site as a reminder of the Hope community’s rural past.

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