Columbus’ architectural gems that attract thousands of visitors annually also will play an important role in Indiana University’s plans to launch a new architecture program.

IU President Michael McRobbie touted the city’s architectural prominence and heritage during his keynote speech Monday at the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp.’s 40th anniversary annual meeting and stakeholders luncheon at The Commons.

“Architecture is truly one of humanity’s great arts,” McRobbie said, noting First Christian Church and North Christian Church among close to 100 notable buildings in Columbus designed by world-renowned architects.

IU is proposing to add a master’s of architecture degree, and the Indiana University Center for Art and Design Columbus (IUCA+D), located at Third and Jackson streets, would be an integral part of the program.

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The proposal was approved by the IU Board of Trustees in June and awaits the final OK from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

The architecture degree would be offered through the new IU School of Art and Design and administered and taught at IUCA+D in Columbus, said Ryan Piurek, IU’s interim assistant vice president of public affairs and presidential communications.

“The Community Education Coalition wrote to IU last year and asked us to consider the creation and implementation of a master’s degree program in architecture and design to involve Columbus through the Center for Art and Design,” McRobbie said.

IU’s partnership with the Columbus-based Community Education Coalition led to creation of IUCA+D, which opened in October 2011.

“Indiana University has long recognized and appreciated the richness and greatness of the architectural heritage of Columbus. We’ve also long believed that it provides an unmatched opportunity for the university to expand its activities in art and design, to intimately involve the city of Columbus,” McRobbie said.

The need for professional architects and designers in Indiana is growing, McRobbie said. He cited an Indiana Department of Workforce Development projection that employment of architects is projected to grow by more than 20 percent through 2022.

Columbus offers four features that will be critical to the success of IU’s new master’s of architecture program, McRobbie said.

  • A high concentration of examples of Modern architecture. Columbus is recognized by the American Institute of Architects as the sixth most architecturally important city in the United States. Right after Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., giving Indiana students direct access to them. The Columbus Architectural Archives, with its original architect drawings and models, would also provide a valuable resource.
  • Success with fabrication and manufacturing. The city has a strong reputation for manufacturing thanks to companies such as Cummins Inc. “Access to digital fabrication technologies leads to a more meaningful design process, and thus complements design education,” McRobbie said.
  • The city’s size. Columbus is large enough to have the institutions and aspirations of a large city, but is small enough and open enough for students to learn in a short time about modern urban form and government processes that lead to solutions to problems.
  • A commitment to coalition building. It started with industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and continues with the Institute for Coalition Building.

“Greater engagement and collaboration between IU and the people of Columbus and Bartholomew County is possible because we share a common vision for the future of our state and its communities,” McRobbie said. “We want to ensure that a first-rate education that is affordable and accessible is available to Indiana’s best students and that it allows them to realize their greatest hopes and aspirations.”

EDB highlights

The Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp. conducted its annual meeting and shareholders luncheon on Monday at The Commons in downtown Columbus. Here are highlights:

  • It has launched a rebranding campaign and has a new name and logo. The organization’s new name is the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp. After the meeting Jason Hester, the EDC’s president, said “greater” was added to reflect an improved Columbus and the organization’s service to all of Bartholomew County. The use of “corporation” instead of “board” reflects that the organization is an independent, nonprofit corporation, he said.
  • In the next 120 days, the EDC will implement a talent-attraction campaign. In collaboration with community partners, an online portal will be created and a marketing campaign launched to “help drive talented job-seekers to the unexpected career opportunities that await them in our unforgettable community.” After the meeting, Hester said the goal is to promote Columbus as a great place to live and work.
  • The EDC celebrated its 40th anniversary by showing a video that discussed how the organization was formed and the key role it has played in bringing economic development to the city, particularly direct investment from foreign companies.
  • Hester was introduced as the EDC’s new president. Formerly he was the executive director.
  • Julie Del Genio was introduced as the new chair of the EDC’s executive committee. She is director of Cummins Inc.’s corporate responsibility and community relations for southern Indiana.

McRobbie speech highlights

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie gave the keynote speech at the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting and stakeholders luncheon Monday at The Commons. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Columbus will play a key role in IU launching its proposed master’s of architecture degree program. The program would be administered through the IU School of Art and Design, but the IU Center of Art and Design Columbus would be a key component, including where classes are taught.
  • The IU Center for Art and Design Columbus has achieved a good measure of success in its first five years. It has received eight grants totaling nearly $100,000. The center has hosted 22 gallery exhibitions and hosted four conferences. It has engaged in community outreach projects, such as teaching design to Columbus elementary school children.
  • The need for professional architects and designers nationally is growing. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the employment of architects is projected to grow by more than 20 percent through 2022 — a rate of growth that is considerably higher than the national average.
  • Announced that the IU Board of Trustees will hold its first-ever meeting in Columbus. The meeting, Oct. 6-7, will take place at IUPUC.
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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.