Mobile Map, South Side, Stops 37-48


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.

Skopos detail

37 – Skopos

An early project in I.M. Pei’s career, Pei set out to present the library as quiet, dignified, and accessible to persons of all ages.

Pei also wanted the plaza to create an urban space and convinced the community to close Lafayette Street to achieve this.

I.M. Pei is also known for his design of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston,  and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Pei received architecture’s highest prize, the Pritzker Prize, in 1983.

The 1987 addition in the back is by local architect Jim Paris, who conferred with Pei during the process.

Take me to Skopos.

Ancestral Way, single

38 – Ancestral Way

Robert Pulley’s eleven organic forms appear to march in procession along the hillside as visitors exit the city. The hand-built ceramic sculptures combine references to the human figure with organic and geologic forms

Bob Pulley says on his website, “I grew up in the American Midwest where frequent solitary walks in the woods and along the creeks and rivers of rural Indiana etched strong impressions into my memory of the varied forms, colors and textures around me. Evidence of the effects of time were everywhere in the rock strata, glacial till, and aboriginal artifacts. I found a sense of wonder that embraced mysteries of nature, of change, and of chance. My work flows from my life as a result of perception and feeling. The sculptures reflect qualities that I recognize in nature and that strike a chord within me; burgeoning energy, tactile and visual richness of surface and form as well as evidence of inevitable loss and change. The references to growth and decay, plant and animal, biological and inorganic, embed the human figure within the teeming forces of nature.”

Stewart Bridge, from southeast

39 – Stewart Bridge

The Robert Stewart bridge into downtown Columbus was completed as the second phase of the front door project. The site was aligned to create an entry vista centered on the historic courthouse tower. The bright red steel supports connect steel tension cables arranged in an arc that is lit in the evening.

Both front-door bridges were designed by Jean M. Muller of J. Muller International of Chicago, who said, “The unique quadripod configuration of this cable-stayed bridge is the first of it kind in North America, and serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose.”

Fire Station 5 - Torre

40 – Fire Station 5

Susana Torre designed Fire Station Five as two overlapping squares. It is located on former farmland and uses understated references to familiar rural symbols of silos and barns.

The concept of opposites are played out in the use of materials: metal against brick, cold colors against warm, and an exposed steel frame within a masonry envelope.

Gateway Bridge - Exit 65

41 – Gateway Bridge

The first project to come out of the planning for a “front door” project  was Jean Muller’s twin-arched overpass bridge at the I-65 intersection, in 1997. The red arches emerge between the two interstate lanes, with rods supporting cantilevered beams below the concrete roadway.

A twin-arched overpass bridge, the red arches emerge between the two interstate lanes, with rods supporting cantilevered beams below the concrete roadway.

The unique signal-controlled diamond interchange below was a new concept for Indiana. The interchange was less expensive than a conventional cloverleaf and requires less right-of-way.

Both bridges were designed by Jean M. Muller of J. Muller International, Chicago.

Southside School, from southeast

42 – Southside Elementary

This building is an example of Brutalist architecture, a word derived from a French phrase meaning raw concrete. Eliot Noyes designed it to be “larger than life,” reminding one resident of the massive simplicity of ancient Rome.

Noyes also designed the school with energy conservation in mind. The exterior and interior walls are of pre-cast concrete and remain in their natural state. minimizing maintenance of these surfaces. The monolithic exterior walls are pre-cast concrete that are weight bearing as well as providing sunshading of the windows.

The stark concrete interior spaces are warmed and enlivened by walnut-stained oak woodwork and furniture, carpeted hallways and classrooms, and a slate floor in the commons area. Lighting (both natural and man made) were used in imaginative ways to make up for the lack of finish and ornamentation on the walls.

The centerpiece of the building is the sunny, enclosed courtyard – the commons. Noyes saw the building as a city, with the commons area as its town square.

The austere exterior conceals a surprisingly light-filled interior. Four concrete stairwells are naturally lit with clerestory and vertical slot windows and have been enlivened with brightly colored abstract murals by Ivan Chermayeff, a prolific designer, illustrator, and artist who has created memorable, iconic trademarks for hundreds of clients. He is a founding partner of Chermayeff & Geismar, a leading graphic design firm in the fields of corporate identity, brand development and logo design.

Walesboro plant, Cummins

43 – Cummins Midrange Plant

To preserve the surrounding wooded site, this 13 acre building is depressed into a clearing and features parking on the roof. The main floor of the building is actually two levels, with the manufacturing floor three feet lower than the office areas, which surrounds it on three sides.

There are three rooftop glass entry structures, two are secured employee entries with stairs and escalators, the other is a visitor’s entry with an elevator.

The layout of the plant provides all occupants with a view of the outside, such as in the middle of the manufacturing area, which has a landscaped courtyard completely surrounded by glass.

One of the main goals in the building design was the preservation and enhancement of the environment for those using the facility. As a result, special attention was given to creating an environmentally controlled system of air, noise, and water pollution control devices which surpassed industry standards at the time.

This factory was proclaimed a prototype of future factory buildings in the early 1970s.

Fire Station Six - William Rawn

44 – Fire Station Six

From William Rawn’s website : For fast-moving traffic, the east and west facades boast distinct glass grids that face up and down the highway. The south facade, parallel to Indiana Highway 450 South, is a solid skin of concrete masonry resembling stone with a continuous 4- foot-high horizontal strip window. In the daytime, the glass block takes in the same coloration as the stone elevation. At night, the building is a beacon, as its glass facades and horizontal strip window glow from within.

The project received the 2000 Honor Award in Architecture from The New England Chapter of AIA and the 2001 Honor Award for Design from The Boston Society of Architects.

Hamilton Center - Harry Weese

45 – Hamilton Ice Arena

The original Swiss chalet style building was designed by Harry Weese as a community building with warming house and changing rooms for an outdoor ice rink. The building exterior features rough-hewn granite boulder battered walls and glass with views to the exterior. The interior features triple-peaked roof with wood beams and planking. A central granite fireplace, highlighting the spacious interior, is surrounded by wooden benches, an inviting sight to chilled skaters.

Because of an increased community interest in ice skating and the need to extend the skating season, the community decided to enclose the outdoor rink in 1975. Koster and Associates designed the enclosure of the large ice arena as an extension of the existing center with similar exterior materials and architectural details, and now includes a regulation- sized hockey rink and an adjacent practice rink, so the facility offers year-round skating.

First Financial - Weese

46 – 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.

Fire Station 4, Venturi

47 – Fire Station Four

Of his 1968 fire station, Robert Venturi said, “…(we) worked hard to make Fire Station No. 4…look like a fire station. We consciously made this inherently civic but modest building, not heroic and original; we made it ordinary, conventional, familiar…representing perhaps how a child would think of it.”

The building committee requested an ordinary building that was easy to maintain. The plan is simple, with almost equal space given to the apparatus rooms and the living/storage quarters.

Because the living quarters did not require the same building height as the engine apparatus room, a parapet is applied to the facade to simplify and unify the front and enhance its scale.

Referencing the popularity of modernism, Venturi said that most architects of the time would have designed a building that would have been “monumental more than civic; its relation to its setting, especially that of a small town, would look to be one of bold contrast…the houses around it probably looking meek…”

This was the first public building that was not a school to be supported by the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program.

Smith School - Johansen

48 – Smith Elementary

John M. Johansen designed this innovative school in 1969, featuring brightly painted steel ramps or “gerbil tubes” connecting the multi-levels of the reinforced concrete and bronze-tone corrugated steel structure. Johansen’s son, Christian Johansen, designed the expansion and renovation in 1997.

While the brightly colored metal circulation tubes are what make this elementary school unique, it is the distinction between the heavy concrete “fixed” elements (seminar rooms, faculty offices, and carrels) and the lightweight, brightly-colored, sheet metal elements (classrooms and speciality rooms) that radiate out from a central courtyard that make this school design innovative.

The organization of this school begins with the administration offices and primary classrooms at grade level and ascends to higher levels and upper grades culminating with the media and computer center at the top.

In response to criticism of the building’s design, a ten-year-old student at Smith wrote, “Not one child disagrees with the design of our, the town’s, school building. Just because it is an up-to-date, modern building doesn’t mean people must condemn it…We, the kids, love it!”

Take me to Smith School.

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