Nationally recognized, emerging and established architects and designers will present their concepts Saturday to make Columbus’ celebrated, iconic architecture even more noteworthy.

Organizers of these designers’ projects, slated for the fall of 2017, hope these concepts for temporary art and architecture will build upon Columbus’ design legacy — and spur inspiration for more acclaimed buildings.

The 10 presentations from Exhibit Columbus’ J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize finalists, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Columbus City Hall, will be made before a jury of international leaders in architecture, art, and design and representatives of the Miller Prize sites.

The selected temporary installations will be related to one of five Miller Prize sites along Fifth Street, each a recognized icon: First Christian Church, the Bartholomew County Public Library, Irwin Conference Center, Mill Race Park and Cummins Corporate Office Building.

Exhibit Columbus was launched earlier this year, and is a part of Landmark Columbus, which cares for the city’s architectural and cultural landmarks. Exhibit Columbus is receiving funding and other support from Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, plus donations from other foundations, individuals and corporations.

The initiative is an annual exploration of architecture, art and design. It plans to alternate programming between symposiums one year and exhibitions the next.

The first symposium, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, attracted more than 1,000 people from across the country. The exhibition will open Aug. 26, 2017 and the temporary works will be in place for about three months.

The American Institute of Architects has ranked Columbus as the sixth-most architecturally significant community in the nation. That badge of honor remains a magnet to attract visitors from all over the country to the Midwestern mecca.

“These people (on the jury) also are people who are very interested in Columbus,” said Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus and organizer of the two-day symposium. “This is a reminder that there is something very important about out little American city — and something that warrants the attention of the whole world.”

McCoy mentioned that Saturday’s free weekend event is rather unusual in most fields.

“People normally don’t show the details of how they make their pasta sauce,” McCoy said. “They usually will simply just serve the entree.”

McCoy said great design and architecture in Columbus through the years has also been expected to be functional and flexible. As examples, he cited that top architects gave the city its post office, several parks, more than a dozen schools, and The Commons, which has become part of the heartbeat of everyday, downtown events.

McCoy acknowledges that some local residents sometimes see Columbus’ investment in design as something for an affluent crowd to connect with. But McCoy sees excellent planning and design in local buildings and landscapes as crucial to everyone from every background.

“What we’re trying to prove with Exhibit Columbus is that architecture, art and design is at its highest purpose when it successfully applied to community problems and challenges,” McCoy said.

Five of the 10 finalists will be awarded Miller Prizes later in December for the temporary projects, also sometimes known as pop-up art or architecture.

As an example, McCoy regularly has cited local designer Jonathan Nesci’s pilot project and mirrored-tables exhibit, “100 Variations,” in 2014 in the courtyard of the local First Christian Church.

The work spun off something fresh from what already was there. McCoy likes to call that two elements “having a conversation.”

Anne Surak, Exhibit Columbus’ director of exhibitions, and McCoy mentioned that temporary works might be constructed of materials such as wood or metals and could involve components such as cutting-edge fabrication. There also could be some 3D printing.

Structures will be life sized, but on a smaller scale, they said.

“An underlying element is that these people already have the ability to work in what we call a site-responsive way,” Surhak said. “A lot of these presenters have experience not just with making buildings, but also in working on these temporary installation-type projects.”

Enhancing Columbus

What: Ten finalists for Exhibit Columbus’ top J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize as they make their presentations for their planned temporary architectural installments.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: City Hall, First and Washington streets in Columbus.

Admission: Free.


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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.