Exhibit Columbus prepares to showcase the city’s architectural future

A New York City architect who has risen to the top of her profession always has prized practicality over beauty and pizazz — although she clearly believes in striking aesthetics.

She expects to build on that idea during a panel discussion with two other top designers at the inaugural Exhibit Columbus architecture and design symposium, “Foundations and Futures,” Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

Deborah Berke, who designed the Hope Branch Library that was completed in 1998 and is the new dean of the Yale Architecture School, will be discussing “Architecture For Everyday Life” at 5:20 p.m. Sept. 30 at The Commons, 300 Washington St. Joining her will be former Yale dean and friend Robert A.M. Stern, who designed the Columbus Regional Hospital expansion in 1995, and Michael Van Valkenburgh, who brought Mill Race Park back to life in 1993.

“The best architecture both looks great, but also can become a nice background for all the activities there,” she said from her office in New Haven, Connecticut.

At the branch library on the historic Hope Town Square, she referred to the high-ceiling in the main area and its curved, wood-laminate beams with natural light streaming in.

“Now that’s architecture,” she said. “But when a Hope resident sits there and reads their book by daylight, I see that private pleasure as one that takes dominance, and the architecture becomes background.

“That balance is so important.”

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.