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THE COLUMBUS INDIANA ARCHITECTURE STORY

The Chicago Tribune

Columbus is a small-town architectural mecca.

Conde Nast Traveler 

One of the world’s best cities for architecture lovers.

Metropolis

Are we in Oz? How was all this possible?

Nat. Geogr. Traveler

Columbus is authentic, unique, and unspoiled.

Find out why Columbus is “one of a kind” (1:30)
Watch the official Visitors Center video (7:40)
Chaos with viewer

An unlikely
collection of masterworks

Columbus is an improbable town. Every year thousands of visitors arrive to explore its streets and study its buildings, for it is one of the rare places on earth where the idea that architecture can improve the human condition has been put to the test. It’s a small, southern Indiana community with no apparent call to destiny that remarkably became an architectural “mecca.”

Columbus, Indiana, claims a collection that features some of the biggest names in modern art and architecture – which explains why the words “unexpected” and “unforgettable” are regularly overheard on the community’s streets.

The story begins with the leadership of a family with a vision and a program rooted in the words of Winston Churchill: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

North Christian Church, Eero Saarinen - photo by Rhonda Bolner

The improbable numbers

Columbus is a city of only 46,000, yet The American Institute of Architects ranked it 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design – right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. – which puts Columbus ahead of Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. The visitor’s map lists over 75 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally-noted architects and artists.

The Columbus story is regularly featured in national and international publications, You can read excerpts here. Even if you are not an architecture buff, learning how this small town strives for excellence is both unique and inspiring.

For those looking for bucket-list experiences, head straight to the Miller House and Garden Tour to experience the acclaimed masterpiece from the dream team of Eero Sarrinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girard. The Visitors Center guided tours have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor.

Cesar Pelli and tour guide coordinator Joyce Orwin
Deborah Berke in Columbus, Indiana

Small town,
big names

Since the early 1940s some of the world’s finest architects have made Columbus a virtual museum of modern architecture, with works by some of the most enduring names in architecture, like I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, and Deborah Berke, just to name a few. And the public art sprinkled throughout the community includes works by artists such as Henry Moore, Dale Chihuly, Jean Tinguely, and Robert Indiana.

Pictured above at left, Cesar Pelli in Columbus for dedication with Volunteer and Tour Program Manager Joyce Orwin / pictured above at right, Deborah Berke (Dean of Yale School of Architecture) enjoys showing Columbus to Yale students

See a Pinterest board of artists and architects who have worked in Columbus HERE.

What The American Institute of Architects conference attendees had to say about Columbus (4:26)
Find out how Columbus became “The Athens of the Prairie” (4:08)

Bloggers who write about, and love, architecture wrote about their visits to Columbus…

Atomic Indy

Best Architecture Tour Ever. Ever! Modernism architecture tour to end all tours.

Baz
Atomic Indy

Urbanophile

Dazed and amazed at Columbus. I thought I knew this town already. It’s blowing me away up close like.

Aaron Renn
Urbanophile

CincinnatiModern

A thriving small town with strong community leadership – and some of the most drop-dead gorgeous public buildings you will ever see.

Susan Rissover
CincinnatiModern

Apartment Therapy

Home again after amazing tour of Columbus. Sad to leave such an amazing place.

Janel Laban
apartment therapy

The Pritzker Prize
Winners in Columbus

The Pritzker Prize is awarded each year to a living architect or architects for significant achievement in the field and is the profession’s highest honor. Previous winners of the Pritzker Prize include Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry,  Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, and Zaha Hadid. Four architects with works in Columbus have been recognized with the award. See photos and links below.

In 1994 the award ceremony was held at The Commons in Columbus, Indiana. View video from the event HERE.

Screenshots from www.pritzkerprize.com > click on images to visit the pages

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