FIRST, PICK UP A MAP : This guide is intended to provide additional insights to the $3 art and architecture guide that is available at the Visitors Center at 506 Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.
13 – Irwin Conference Center
Cummins Inc. Irwin Conference Center, formerly Irwin Union Bank and Trust, was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1954, with landscape design by Dan Kiley. It was a groundbreaking design at a time when banks were typically imposing stone structures with tellers behind bars.
It is a low, glass-walled building set in a grove of trees. Unusual domed lights and an open interior creates a large open room and a feeling of openness and friendliness. The modern bank is linked to the 1910 office building and three-story building by a three-story glass arcade, which was designed by Kevin Roche and added in 1973.
It has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Take me to the Irwin Conference Center.
14 – Irwin Office Arcade
Architect Kevin Roche, of Roche Dinkaloo and Associates, created this glass corridor to connect the modernist bank building to neighboring Victorian buildings when Irwin Union expanded its offices in 1973.
The building now houses offices for Cummins, Inc.
Note that, amazingly, Roche has designs on three of the four corners of the intersection at Fifth and Jackson Streets (the Arcade, Cummins Corporate Office, and the post office).
Take me to the Irwin Office Arcade.
15 – Cummins Corporate
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 200 Company and diesel engine manufacturer.
The zigzag plan of the one-story building with a mezzanine level interacts with a park-like setting on the east side of the building. The office building is primarily cast-in-place octagonal concrete columns with infilled precast concrete spandrels and narrow windows to provide noise and sun control.
Landscape Architect Jack Curtis created the park-like setting — the project received an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The central park area features glory maple, sugar maple, Boston ivy, birch, redbud, and dogwood. In the summer months, the park is lush and green, while the climbing hydrangea bloom on the columns surrounding the building.
Roche received architecture’s highest prize, the Pritzker Prize, in 1982 (followed by I.M. Pei in 1983 and Richard Meier in 1984, all with work in Columbus).
Take me to the Cummins Corporate Office Building.
16 – Exploded Engine
The Cummins Museum is free to the public, this installation is inside the front entrance of the Cummins Headquarters, enter near the corner of Fifth Street and Jackson.
The de Harak piece is both instructional and fascinating. Nearly every nut and bolt is deconstructed to its smallest detail and hangs in midair, suspended by floor-to-ceiling wires. The diesel engine is the centerpiece of the museum at the Cummins Corporate Headquarters. The New York Times obituary for de Harak said, “Mr. de Harak conceived a display he called an ‘exploding’ diesel engine; it hangs by wires in midair, revealing its every part, including all the tiny nuts and bolts. It was one of his many approaches to extracting useful, fascinating information from the most minute details.”
Take me to Exploded Engine.
17 – Cerealine Building
The Cerealine Building, with its gracefully-arched windows and doors, has been a part of the Columbus skyline for more than a century. The building originally was the main structure of the old Cerealine grain complex, believed to have been built in 1867.
A former building to the north housed Cummins’ first factory and office for the seven years following the company’s founding in 1919.
Cerealine, a dried corn product which was one of the world’s first dry breakfast cereals, and was featured on the menu of the Titanic, was made in this building.
The exterior of this historic structure, significant to both Columbus and Cummins, has been carefully renovated and is now an important part of the new office complex. The space was doubled by means of a U-shaped addition, which has become an employee cafeteria with views of the fountains and reflecting pond.
Take me to the Cerealine building.
18 – Eos
Created by artist Dessa Kirk, who completed the project in Columbus in the Brand’s Lumber warehouse. Eos’ arms extend into anthropomorphised leaves, which are made of welded sections of painted metal.
In Greek mythology the winged Eos was the goddess of the dawn, and rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the Ocean, dispersed the mists of the night and opened the gates of heaven every day so her brother, Helios, the sun, could ride his chariot across the sky.
Originally part of the 2006 Sculpture Invitational, the piece was so popular with the community that a fund drive raised the money to ensure she had a permanent home in Columbus.
Dessa Kirk on Columbus: “Columbus, Indiana has all these amazing buildings by amazing architects that were commissioned by Cummins. The one great sculpture, the Henry Moore, I want to be in the same city as Henry Moore, why not, it’s a beautiful thing. Beautiful city in a beautiful setting. You want to see great architecture, go there. There’s New York City, but Columbus is where you want to go. And there’s great sculpture, my all-time favorite sculptor, Tinguely. I want to be a part of that, I want to be there hanging out with those guys.” (adapted from WTTW Arts Online)
Take me to Eos.
19 – Post Office
The Columbus Post Office was the first post office in the country designed by architects whose fees were privately funded. It uses salt-glazed tile, mirrored glass, and COR-Ten steel. Cor-Ten steel’s high tin content oxidizes to form a protective, maintenance-free finish with a rich brown color. Eero Saarinen and Roche had also used it on the John Deer headquarters in Moline, Illinois.
Roche was already familiar with Columbus when he took on this job. He had taken over the construction of North Christian Church after the death of Eero Saarinen, along with many other ongoing projects of Saarinen’s. Roche also worked closely with Eero Saarinen on the Miller House.
Roche designed buildings on three of the four corners of this intersection at Fifth and Jackson Streets — the others are Cummins Headquarters and Irwin Office Building Arcade — so this is sometimes referred to as “Kevin Roche Corner.”
Take me to the Post Office.
20 – Jackson Street Garage
Designed by Koetter|Kim & Associates, who also designed The Commons, and have work all over the world.
Enjoy a different perspective on downtown by taking in the view from the top!
Take me to the Jackson Street Parking Garage.
21 – Friendship Way
Cork Marchessi, a San Francisco artist, created this colorful neon light sculpture as part of the Friendship Way project, a partnership with sister city Myoshi, Japan.
It is most dramatic when viewed after dark when its neon glows in vibrant colors.
The bricks that make up the sidewalk are inscribed with the names of citizens of Myoshi who financially supported this gift to the community through their purchase.
Take me to Friendship Way.
22 – The Commons
Designed by the Boston-based firm, Koetter Kim, and completed in 2011, the Commons is sometimes referred to as “our community’s living room.”
A 5,000 square-foot indoor playground with a 35-foot tall “Luckey Climber” is a feature families will enjoy.
Jean Tinguely’s large, kinetic sculpture, Chaos I, is the quirky centerpiece to the space.
Take me to The Commons.
23 – Chaos I
Chaos I is a seven-ton, kinetic sculpture by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. The piece is the largest work by Tinguely in the United States. The archivist at the Museum Tinguely in Basil, Switzerland said, “The artist’s philosophy was that everything has to be in motion, like life; if not, it’s not ‘real.’”
It seems fitting that the centerpiece of Columbus, Indiana, a city known for both its great architectural designs and its world-class manufacturing operations, would be a sculpture that successfully marries art and engineering. Tinguely, a colorful character sporting a bushy moustache, took up residence in Columbus’s former city powerhouse — now Columbus Pump House restaurant — for nearly two years. Tinguely became a regular at the local “watering holes” during that time. He was said to have been delighted by the quality of the scrap he found in local junkyards about town because they provided the raw material for his work.
So special is Chaos to the community, for the three years that the new Commons was being constructed, it was safely protected in a climate-controlled box while The Commons was razed and rebuilt all around it.
The architect of the original Commons, Cesar Pelli, first suggested that a sculpture by Tinguely would be the perfect centerpiece to this downtown facility. Pelli said, “We would like a great magnet, a focal point such as the old town clock…a place for people to meet and greet one another.”
The work was commissioned by J. Irwin and Xenia Irwin Miller and Mrs. Robert Tangeman in late 1971.
Take me to Chaos I.
24 – Two Arcs de 212.5
Bernar Venet’s 2 Arcs de 212.5° — also known as the “Red C” — is typical of Venet’s minimalist work in steel. Seemingly precariously balanced, this work, like his others, reflects the artist’s love of mathematics and his style of adapting material, form, balance, and spatial perception.
Venet has work exhibited around the world.
Take me to Two Arcs.