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Columbus Area Visitors Center will be recognized Friday for its contributions to architecture at a regional meeting of the American Institute of
The tourism agency will receive the 2013 Walter S. Blackburn Award at the Ohio Valley regional conference of the AIA in Louisville, Ky., said Lynn Lucas, executive director of the visitors center.
Previous recipients have included Will Miller, Eli Lilly, Richard Lugar and the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives. The visitors center was nominated for the award by Tony Costello, director of the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives.
“I co-chaired the AIA committee on design when they came here in April 2012, and the assistance you get from the Columbus Area Visitors Center is second to none,” Costello said. “Putting together a conference for 140 architects coming from across the country is not that easy, but (Lucas) and her staff just do everything possible to, in a way, not only help the organizers, but they become ambassadors for the city.
“I don’t know of another city that has a visitors center that is so geared to architecture. Obviously, architecture is the calling card of Columbus, but most visitors centers are much more generalist,” Costello said.
He praised the efforts of the visitors center to embody good design, such as the remodeling of the gift shop area.
“I guess in some ways they embody good design by their facility, which has gone through several major modifications over the years,” Costello said.
He also praised the density of the educational material presented during the center’s architectural tours and the knowledge of the volunteer tour guides.
Lucas said the visitors center architectural tour business has gone up by a third since the opening of the Miller House for tours three years ago.
The center did more than 900 tours last year, she said.
“We are so different than most convention and visitors bureaus,” Lucas said.
“Many of our peers never see visitors. They are marketing machines. And we are a marketing machine, that is one of our primary jobs, but our other enormous function is hosting.”
Lucas said the center works hard to act as an educational program for architecture and to showcase Columbus architecture, and she is proud to receive the Blackburn Award.
“It is really a great recognition of that part of our work,” Lucas said.
Walter Blackburn Award
- Walter S. Blackburn devoted his entire career to combining sensitivity, social consciousness and professionalism with preserving neighborhoods, rebuilding the inner city and creating beauty where there was blight. He created award-winning buildings and developments in Indianapolis, according to his firm’s website.
- According to the American Institute of Architects Indiana chapter website, the Blackburn Award “is bestowed upon a non-architect public member or organization that has contributed their time and person in service to or support of the architectural profession in Indiana or an architect and member of AIA Indiana who has exemplified professional and public service as Blackburn did.”
- The award will be made Friday at the AIA Ohio Valley Region Conference in Louisville, Ky.
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