Five winners have been chosen to design and build temporary installations at the site of five iconic architectural landmarks in Columbus.
The Miller Prize winners, announced Sunday by Landmark Columbus, are part of a new, annual exploration of architecture, art, design and community known as Exhibit Columbus.
With an inaugural symposium Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, and its first exhibition opening Aug. 26 of this year, Exhibit Columbus seeks to celebrate Columbus’ design heritage while making it relevant to new audiences today, said Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus, an organization dedicated to caring for and celebrating the world-renowned design heritage of Columbus.
The centerpiece for this effort was the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Competition, a juried event which judged submissions on their formal/spatial relationship to the site, ability to activate the space, innovation in the use of materials, and ability to stimulate a dialogue with the context of the site.
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Winners were selected from among 10 semifinalists who presented their concepts for the 2017 exhibition Dec. 10 at Columbus City Hall to a jury of international leaders in architecture, art and design. They were joined by community representatives from each of the Miller Prize sites.
The temporary design projects are sometimes known as pop-up art or architecture.
All 10 Miller Prize finalists participated in the inaugural symposium in the fall, along with community leaders and international voices in architecture, design and art. The symposium, “Foundations and Futures,” drew more than 1,000 attendees over two and one-half days and explored the past, present, and future of architecture and design in Columbus.
“The symposium energized the community,” Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop said. “We heard from so many experts and community leaders about what makes our city special. And many of us had the opportunity to meet and interact with the Miller Prize finalists. We have been impressed with their enthusiasm for our remarkable city.”
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.
The Miller Prize winners will receive a financial award to create their installations along downtown’s Fifth Street, each in direct dialogue with a Miller Prize site. These installations will be the centerpieces of the 2017 exhibition.
The 2017 exhibition also will feature more than 10 installations by international designers, students and professors from Midwestern universities, and students from local schools.
Funding for Exhibit Columbus has come from individuals, foundations and corporations around Indiana. Exhibit Columbus is a project of Landmark Columbus, a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
Here are the winners, with descriptions provided by Landmark Columbus.
Miller Prize Site 1 First Christian Church Saarinen and Saarinen (1942)
Designer: Studio:indigenous of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chris Cornelius, “Wiikiaami”
Description: Inspired by the dwellings of the Miyaamia people indigenous to Indiana, Cornelius adorns a walkway leading to First Christian Church with a contemporary “wigwam” — wiikiaami in the Miyaamia language — constructed of rebar and copper scales. The swooping conical form is aligned both to the church’s iconic campanile and to mark the autumnal equinox. The copper scales, equally reminiscent of eagle feathers and textile designs, are perforated and patinated to make shifting patterns of sunlight and shade, creating a space for gathering as well as a gateway to Saarinen’s church.
Miller Prize Site 2 Cleo Rogers Memorial Library I.M. Pei and Partners (1969)
Designer: IKD of Boston; Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura, “Conversation Plinth”
Description: IKD’s design takes inspiration from the conversation pit in the Miller House and the plinths that elevate the landmarks immediately surrounding the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. Encircling the Moore sculpture on the eastern half of the site, large shifting timber discs compose a series of plinths that rise upward toward the west and encourage dynamic circulation around the sculpture, allowing the plaza to be experienced in new ways — even by night, thanks to dramatic lighting. IKD plans to collaborate with cross-laminated timber (CLT) specialists to develop CLT made from Indiana hardwood byproducts, potentially revolutionizing an industry that currently uses softwoods.
Miller Prize Site 3 Irwin Conference Center Eero Saarinen and Associates (1954)
Designer: Oyler Wu Collaborative of Los Angeles; Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu, “Untitled”
Description: Oyler Wu Collaborative’s research into Eero Saarinen’s oeuvre leads them to focus on three key concepts: Euclidean geometries, solid/void relationships and tectonics. Their design fabricates a new space within the site by completing the geometries implied by three canopies, legacies of the Irwin Conference Center’s history as a drive-up bank. The rectilinear space, defined by the existing canopies and completed by new walls — some solid, some sketched in lines or carved away into voids — is enlivened by sophisticated tectonic interplay with embedded objects derived from Oyler Wu’s particular idiom. The resulting complex of canopies, walls and benches produce new areas of containment and new points of destination.
Miller Prize Site 4 Cummins Corporate Office Building Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates (1983)
Designer: Plan B Architecture & Urbanism of New Haven, Connecticut; Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis, “Anything can happen in the woods”
Description: Plan B imagines the columns of the Cummins Corporate Office Building pergola multiplying to form a kind of urban forest. The new columns are mirrored as a nod to architect Roche Dinkeloo’s aesthetic and to reflect their surroundings: green hedges, the busy street and the Columbus Post Office opposite, another Roche Dinkeloo design. Landscape forms — conversation pits, outdoor rooms and grass-covered mounds — punctuate the mirrored woodland, enticing viewers to explore and inhabit a space that is usually passed through or passed by.
Miller Prize Site 5 Mill Race Park Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with architecture by Stanley Saitowitz (1992)
Designer: Aranda\Lasch of Tucson, Arizona, and New York; Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch, “Another Circle”
Description: Aranda\Lasch responds to the strong formal and architectural elements already present in Mill Race Park, using 2,800 pieces of salvaged Indiana limestone to tie together the round lake, People Trail and the river with a new, 3.5-acre stone circle. While the design hearkens back to ancient henges and modern earthworks, its primary goal is to articulate fields of activity for contemporary park visitors. Within the circle, stones are placed, stacked or arrayed to create a theater, a beach, a riverfront and areas for games and relaxation: a loose gathering of function inside a scattering of stone.
The 2016 Miller Prize guest jurors were Sean Anderson, associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Lise Anne Couture, co-founder and principal, Asymptote Architecture, New York; Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; and Dung Ngo, publisher, August Editions, New York.
Members of the Columbus community representing each of the Miller Prize sites were Jason Hatton, director, Bartholomew County Public Library; Mark Jones, director, Columbus Parks and Recreation; Brad Manns, executive director of Global Integrated Services-Facilities, Cummins Inc; and Larry Ruble, archivist, First Christian Church.