After four decades, Cummins Occupational Health Center being sold

Cummins, Inc. is selling the Occupational Health Center building in Columbus, which served the health needs of the company’s employees for about 40 years before the company opened its new LiveWell Center in late June.

The 23,000-square-foot building at 605 Cottage Ave. is listed for sale at $2.5 million, said Ross Goyer, vice president of development and asset management at Cornerstone Companies, which is marketing the building for Cummins.

The company was able to consolidate the occupational health services formerly offered there at the new LiveWell center, which is a lifestyle medicine facility at 806 Jackson St. in Columbus, said Jon Mills, Cummins spokesman.

Because of all the services offered at the new LiveWell Center, occupational health patients have better comprehensive care coordination and a better patient experience at the new center, he said.

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Goyer’s company in Indianapolis specializes in finding buyers for health care-related real estate, and is working with Brian P. Russell, president of Russell Development Co. in Columbus, to find a buyer.

The health center facility, dedicated in 1973, was designed by architects Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, New York City, the same firm that designed Mt. Healthy Elementary School, said Tricia Gilson, archivist and curator at the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives.

Designed as an alternative approach to industrial health care design, the center has a large amount of glass and few interior walls, according to historical information provided by Cummins.

The interior of the building is described as a “configuration of open, semi-open and closed spaces defined by two overlapping geometric grids.”

Crafted for flexibility to adjust to different space requirements, the design has a completely open interior with brightly painted pipes, girders and walls. Many of the interior walls are clear glass, and small, circular waiting areas are scattered throughout the split-level interior, connected by ramps, according to a description provided by Cummins.

The design, which included corrugated steel and glass on walls and skylights and black reflecting glass on the exterior, was designed not to overwhelm the surrounding area and actually appear to become transparent at night.

The building’s architects won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1976, one of six selected out of 300 to 500 designs nominated that year, Gilson said.

The landscaping design for the building was done by Dan Kiley, one of 40 projects he completed in Columbus, Gilson said.

Information from the Columbus Architectural Archives shows the building’s $2 million capital cost for the building, equipment, land and landscaping was provided by Cummins, which in the 1970s was the only industry in Columbus with an occupational medical service staffed by full-time physicians.

As local companies faced new federal requirements for medical services for employees, the Columbus Occupational Health Association was formed to provide the services for smaller businesses and industries on a cost-sharing basis. COHA started out in a temporary structure at Seventh Street and Hawcreek Boulevard in 1970 and then moved into the Cummins building to provide services.

Goyer said the property is being marketed to preserve the architecture of the exterior of the building, with the understanding that some improvements in the interior may need to be made to the 1970s-era building. In that vein, there are no considerations to split up the space in any way, he said.

Describing the building as in a significant location with great visibility, Goyer said the architectural history of the building provides another level of value to the property.

Also of interest is the architectural firm that designed it is no longer in operation, Gilson said, with the architects each branching out and working in their own companies.

“All are still practicing,” she said of Hugh Hardy, Malcolm Holzman and Norman Pfeiffer. Michael Ross is listed as the project architect for the occupational health center building.

The Cummins building is the latest in a series of Columbus’ architectural treasures that have been on the real estate market in recent years.

The Republic building in downtown Columbus, opened in 1971, was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2012, and was sold this year to Columbus Regional Health. Architect for the building was Myron Goldsmith with the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The design received an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1975.

The Irwin Conference Center, built in 1954 and formerly known as Irwin Union Bank, was purchased by Cummins in 2010 and won an award after its renovation into a corporate conference center and meeting space in downtown Columbus. The building was designed by Eero Saarinen.

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Address: 605 Cottage Ave.

Size: 23,000 square feet on 2.5 acres.

Sale price: $2.5 million

Designed by: Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates

Landscape architect: Dan Kiley

Owner: Cummins, Inc.