Exhibit Columbus has sent out a “save the date” note for its 2018 national symposium in September, extending an invitation to continue a conversation about preserving and celebrating modern architecture.

The Sept. 26 to 29 national symposium is themed “Design, Community and Progressive Preservation,” a continuation and extension of the 2016 inaugural symposium and a reminder that although most of the 2017 Exhibit Columbus installations are gone, new installations are in the works.

“Though the Exhibit Columbus exhibition closed in November, we’ve been quietly hard at work planning this symposium,” said Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus, the umbrella agency over Exhibit Columbus.

“We’re looking at ways to make the whole project more efficient and better,” said McCoy in a telephone interview from Columbia University in New York, where he is presenting tonight at a Preservation Lecture Series for the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

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The inaugural Exhibit Columbus art, architecture and design symposium in late September 2016 drew nearly 1,000 people to a variety of workshops.

A year later, the Exhibit Columbus exhibition attracted an estimated 40,000 visitors from Aug. 26 to Nov. 26, labeled as an annual exploration of architecture, art and design.

The format calls for alternating between a symposium one year and an exhibition the next. Exhibit Columbus is a project of Landmark Columbus and a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

To build upon the initial successes, Exhibit Columbus will collaborate with Docomomo US, the American Institute of Architects (Indiana and Kentucky chapters) and Newfields, a 152-acre cultural campus that is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, McCoy said.

“We feel like this project and collaboration will take the symposium a quantum leap forward in terms of the number of people and the scale of the symposium,” he said.

By collaborating with the three other organizations, McCoy said the Exhibit Columbus symposium hopes to conservatively plan for 500 visitors each day of the event in Columbus.

Docomomo will conduct its national symposium, which averages about 550 people a day, in conjunction with the Columbus event. The architects’ chapters are planning their convention in conjunction with the Exhibit Columbus symposium, and they should average about 150 people from each chapter who will visit Columbus for the symposium, McCoy said.

“There’s a little bit of crossover with the organizations, but not much,” he said.

Besides increasing the scale of the event, organizers also shifted to a more concrete and thoughtful theme — encompassing the idea of design with community enhancement and with progressive preservation, he said.

“We are looking at the history of Columbus in using design to make the community better,” he said. “It’s a new model for the country and a different way to look at preservation.”

Companion symposium

Theodore Prudon, a New York City architect with Prudon and Partners who leads the board of directors for Docomomo US, said the organization is partnering for the symposium for several reasons, including that Columbus has a long tradition of being in the forefront in designing Modern buildings, going back to World War II.

The advocacy for preserving these buildings is much in the mission for Docomomo US, Prudon said. The organization’s national symposium is a primary event in the U.S. for those interested in preserving Modern architecture, he said.

“The way Columbus has done this, and continues to do this, can be an inspiration to other communities to celebrate their legacy, Prudon said.

Prudon visited Columbus for the first time in the early 1980s and has been back about four times, most of them in recent years.

“What I like about it is the city is continuing its tradition of innovative progressive architecture in new buildings,” he said.

He complimented the city’s appreciation for the modern architectural treasures, saying the city is an attractive example if you were to do a history of American architecture.

“Think of all the schools in Columbus that are still in use. The buildings show the different ways of thinking about education,” he said. “It’s the same thing for the churches — showing how a building evolves and continues to be used.”

Prudon also mentioned the Irwin Union Bank building, an example of a post-war branch bank brought back to life as a conference center that still maintains a presence on a main thoroughfare in Columbus.

“We need to remember what remains here and how relevant it still is,” he said. “And how we will work to preserve it.”

The 2018 symposium in Columbus will include keynote conversations with leaders in architecture and preservation, an American Institute of Architects’ Trade Show featuring new and innovative building products and services and exclusive tours, McCoy said.

A highlight will be a celebration of the Miller Prize finalists, from which selections will be made for the next round of Exhibit Columbus installations in 2019.

Exhibit sticking around

The first round of installations, which opened last August, included 18 site-specific exhibits that connected and commented on Columbus’ design legacy. Five were chosen as 2017 Miller Prize winners, Wiikiaami at First Christian Church, Conversation Plinth at the Bartholomew County Library, The Exchange at Irwin Conference Center, Anything Can Happen at Cummins Corporate Office Building and Another Circle at Mill Race Park.

Talks are continuing to keep Wiikiaami at the church through the summer of 2019 in the hopes of finding a permanent place for the installation elsewhere in Columbus, McCoy said.

The installation, designed by Chris Cornelius and inspired by the dwellings of the Miyaamia people indigenous to Indiana, has a distinct Columbus connection in that Faurecia welders and workers fabricated and constructed it next to the Eliel Saarinen-designed First Christian Church. In the design, metal panels seep in a conical form toward the church as a gateway.

About 20 Faurecia employees, many of them welders, devoted 600 to 700 hours in the construction, much of it in 10- to 12-hour days.

McCoy said the structure has changed its color tone in the Indiana weather, giving it a different look through the seasons, which has continued to fascinate visitors and passersby. The structure was particularly striking with a light coating of snow.

Exhibit Columbus organizers are expecting closer scrutiny to this next round of presentations and installations, and McCoy promised that the organization would deliver.

“Some of the partners we are talking to for this symposium, they are attention-getters,” he said. “I’m not kidding about making this better and bigger for 2018.”

About Exhibit Columbus

Exhibit Columbus is an annual exploration of art, architecture, design and community alternating between a symposium and exhibition programming each year. It features the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize competition.

Exhibit Columbus is the flagship event of Landmark Columbus, a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. Landmark Columbus’ mission is to care for the design heritage of Columbus while using it as an example to inspire this and other communities to invest in the traditions and values that use design to make cities better for everyone.

For more information: exhibitcolumbus.org.

New partnerships

Exhibit Columbus is collaborating with three organizations as part of the Design/Community/Progressive Preservation national symposium this fall.

Docomomo US: A nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Modern architecture, landscape and design. The organization provides advocacy, education and documentation in demonstrating the importance of Modern design principles including the social context, technical merits, aesthetics and settings of important pieces of American history. It was founded in 1995 and has a union of regional chapters that share members’ knowledge and enthusiasm for Modern architecture and design. For more information, visit docomomo-us.org.

American Institute of Architects — Indiana and Kentucky chapters: This organization represents nearly 1,500 architects, providing programs in advocacy, knowledge and public outreach. For more information, visit aiaindiana.org or aia.org/kentucky.

Newfields: Newfields is a 152-acre cultural campus which is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Lilly House, a National Historic Landmark; The Garden, 40 acres of contemporary and historic gardens; and the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, one of the largest art and nature parks in the country. The campus extends outside Indianapolis to include the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, one of the nation’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist architecture. For more information, visit discovernewfields.org.

Source: Exhibit Columbus

Save the date

The 2018 national symposium Design/Community/Progressive Preservation will be Wednesday to Saturday, Sept. 26 to 29, in Columbus.

Registration details, including information about discounted ticket prices for students and Columbus residents, will be available soon at exhibitcolumbus.org.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.