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Miller House and Garden conversation pit

Architect Paul Kennon

From the sixth edition of ‘A Look at Architecture” – dedicated to the memory of Paul Kennon.

Paul first came to Columbus as an associate in Eero Saarinen’s office to work on the Irwin Union Bank & Trust Company Central Office in the early 1950s. He returned to design four major projects built in the community, as well as several buildings elsewhere for Columbus-based clients, over the next forty years.

Through his warmth, enthusiasm, humility, charm, and the sheer power of his ideas, Paul Kennon has had as much influence on the architectural character of the community as any of the architects who have built here.

When he left us, Paul was in the middle of a great experiment in a small town with which he was clearly in love. Extending his participative design process to the realm of urban planning, Paul was the guiding light of an ambitious effort to collect the dreams of the citizens of Columbus for their downtown, to rationalize these dreams into a coherent plan, and then to implement them.

From the New York Times obituary for Paul Kennon:

Paul A. Kennon, an award-winning architect who was dean of the School of Architecture at Rice University, died of a heart attack on Monday at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. He was 55 years old and lived in Houston.

Mr. Kennon, who served as associate director of the school in 1966-67, was appointed dean last September. At the same time, he was senior design principal for CRSS Inc., of Houston, one of the nation’s largest architectural and engineering firms. He had been affiliated with the firm since 1967.

Mr. Kennon designed corporate and institutional buildings. He received more than 100 awards for his designs, including honors from the American Institute of Architects and the magazine Progressive Architecture. In 1976, he was named to the College of Fellows of the institute. Among his most recent works are the Chrysler Technology Center in Austin Hill, Mich., and the 3M/Austin Center, the 3M company’s regional headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Read the original here >

Work by architect Paul Kennon in Columbus, Indiana

Columbus Signature Academy, Fodrea Campus, Paul Kennon, 1973
Columbus Signature Academy, Fodrea Campus, Paul Kennon, 1973 - interior
Columbus Signature Academy, Fodrea Campus, Paul Kennon, 1973
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2775 Illinois Avenue, Columbus
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Paul Kennon of Caudill Rowlett Scott designed the building in 1973 as a “people-centered” school. It was one of the first schools in the country to serve the dual purpose of education and as a gathering place for the community. It offers elementary education, recreation, and community-civic organization space.

As with other Columbus elementary schools, Fodrea was named for educators in the school system, Hazel, Bessie and Mabel Fodrea, three sisters who taught in the school system.

State Street Bank (in transition), Paul Kennon, 1974 - Columbus, Indiana
State Street Bank (in transition), Paul Kennon, 1974 - Columbus, Indiana
State Street Bank (in transition), Paul Kennon, 1974
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State Street and Mapleton, Columbus
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This branch bank was an expansion with drive-up teller service from the small bank building (now a flower shop) across the street designed by Harry Weese in 1961. The bank features two parallel two-story brick walls that conceal mechanical equipment and office space in between.

The trapezoidal site is enhanced with trees and landscaping which give the building a small, park-like setting. The street front is layered with a formal row of trees, similar to the downtown bank by Saarinen, while the back is more natural.

This building is currently in transition, awaiting a new owner.

AT&T Switching Station, Paul Kennon, 1978 - Columbus, Indiana
AT&T Switching Station, Paul Kennon, 1978 - Columbus, Indiana
AT&T Switching Center, Paul Kennon, 1978
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Seventh and Franklin Streets, Columbus
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Paul Kennon of Caudill, Rowlett, Scott designed this building in 1978. Distinctive for its mirrored glass facade and its primary colored accents, the building houses electronic equipment. Originally a three-story brick building, Indiana Bell commissioned Paul Kennon to add an addition and create a new cohesive design on a transitional site, joining the business district and one of the community’s older residential areas.

Kennon’s solution was to unify the existing building and the new addition by encasing both in a skin of reflective glass. Giant yellow, orange, red, and blue “organ pipes” on the west alley side of the building provide a colorful accent, and have become an iconic image of the modern architecture of Columbus. The pipes are actually color-coded functional stacks for the building’s HVAC system. Building service entry doors and other exhaust elements are also accented with primary colors.

The majority of the trellis structure and the pear trees, an integral part of the original design concept, were removed when the birds became a public nuisance. The reflective glass is still effective in making the building disappear into its surroundings. This modern building is an example of the community’s commitment to design excellence even with such a functional structure.

The  AIA (American Institute of Architects) gave the building its Honor award in 1980, describing the center as, “a delightfully whimsical solution to the use of mirrored glass.”

Related...
From the New York Times obituary for Paul Kennon:

Paul A. Kennon, an award-winning architect who was dean of the School of Architecture at Rice University, died of a heart attack on Monday at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. He was 55 years old and lived in Houston.

Mr. Kennon, who served as associate director of the school in 1966-67, was appointed dean last September. At the same time, he was senior design principal for CRSS Inc., of Houston, one of the nation’s largest architectural and engineering firms. He had been affiliated with the firm since 1967.

Mr. Kennon designed corporate and institutional buildings. He received more than 100 awards for his designs, including honors from the American Institute of Architects and the magazine Progressive Architecture. In 1976, he was named to the College of Fellows of the institute. Among his most recent works are the Chrysler Technology Center in Austin Hill, Mich., and the 3M/Austin Center, the 3M company’s regional headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Read the original here >

Downtown Columbus, Indiana streetscape
Downtown Columbus, Indiana streetscape
Streetscape, Paul Kennon and Michael Van Valkenburgh, 1990
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Architect Paul Kennon was given the challenge to create an attractive, accessible, pedestrian-friendly downtown. Through a series of community-wide meetings and focus groups, the decision was made to return Washington Street to two-way traffic, improve the lighting, and provide other urban amenities. Michael Shirley and Michael Van Valkenburgh completed the design after Paul’s untimely death.

New street lights, complete with banners, provide increased illumination to sidewalks and storefronts. Two-way traffic along Washington Street eases traffic movement to retail establishments on both sides of the street.

Concrete paver bricks create plazas at major intersections; brick sidewalks use contrasting colors for pattern; corner amenities include marble-topped benches, trash receptacles, and concrete planters with seasonal plantings, junipers and pear trees.

Funding for the Streetscape project included an “Adopt-A-Brick” program, which allowed people, organizations, and businesses to make contributions and have names or messages inscribed on bricks. To date, over 7,000 inscribed bricks have been laid in the Washington Street sidewalks.

The Washington Street sidewalk design in front of the new Commons and on 3rd Street were modified by Copley Wolff Design Group with strong diagonal bands that related to the skew of the new playground form. Sloped planters, custom bollards, and additional named bricks were incorporated at the 3rd and Washington Street corner.

Fodrea School

State Street Bank, in transition

AT&T Switching Station

Streetscape