‘NEW MIDDLES’: Exhibit Columbus announces online symposium

Exhibit Columbus has announced a series of conversations and online events which will comprise the 2020 Exhibit Columbus Symposium New Middles event this fall.

Exhibit Columbus—which launched in 2016 to celebrate the design legacy of Columbus, through its annual exploration of architecture, art, design and community — on Wednesday announced its third national symposium.

The 2020 Exhibit Columbus Symposium New Middles gathers thinkers, designers, architects, artists, and landscape architects to discuss the question: “What Is The Future of The Middle City?”

The symposium will take place virtually over six weeks beginning Sept. 15 and continuing through Oct. 29.

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Consisting of a series of conversations and online events including Thematic Conversations, the symposium is presented in partnership with Dezeen, and Columbus Conversations with ongoing public engagement throughout the fall.

The theme New Middles will be considered through the lens of four topic areas: Futures and Technologies, Resiliency and Climate Adaptation, Arts and Community, and Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking.

Each bi-weekly topic is structured as a call-and-response between Tuesday “Thematic Conversations” hosted by Dezeen featuring national and international thought leaders, and Thursday “Columbus Conversations” that localize the topics, bringing Miller Prize recipients into discussion with community experts and stakeholders around future forward initiatives being undertaken in Columbus during its bicentennial year.

The Thematic Conversations will feature such design leaders as Marcus Fairs, co-founder and editor in chief of Dezeen; Iker Gill and Mimi Zeiger, 2021-21 Exhibit Columbus curators and more than 15 leaders — professionals and academics — in the the fields of architecture and design, ecology and urbanism.

Columbus Conversations will build upon and localize these discussions, and will highlight this year’s J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients and members of the local community including Heather Pope, Columbus Redevelopment director and Cindy Frey, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce president and more.

“As a program, Exhibit Columbus continues to be both locally responsive and globally engaged. We are excited to launch the 2020 Symposium online and believe it will allow us to connect this theme and the story of Columbus to a much larger and international audience,” said Anne Surak, Exhibit Columbus director. “We’ve created each conversation to be smartly accessible to a wide variety of audiences, including, designers, artists, civic leaders, enthusiasts, and students at the university and high school levels.”

This series of conversations builds on Columbus’s role as a historic host and speculative think tank on design, asking the city and sister mid-sized cities to consider the role of design and architecture as civic catalysts, especially when faced with the most pressing issues of our time: from community health to climate change impact, from equity and social justice to emergent technology.

These dialogues serve as foundational research for all New Middles participants—a kind of Exhibition Design Brief and “Community Design Brief” that identifies topics, themes, and writings for community partners while growing exhibition participants’ understanding of Columbus’ culture and context as they conceptualize commissioned installations for the fall 2021 exhibition.

For licensed architects, attending the symposium conversations will count as AIA Continuing Education Units.

The schedule for the symposium includes:

What: Thematic Conversation: Futures and Technologies

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15

New Middles: Futurists Dan Hill and Radha Mistry discuss how strategic foresight and storytelling influences design. This conversation is premised on an idea attributed to science fiction writer William Gibson: the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. What new normal realities from education and equity, to mobility and manufacturing will shape what’s next? Whose voices are represented? How might we extrapolate emergent technologies and contemporary conditions facing the Midwest into a speculative future of the middle?

Panelists: Radha Mistry, Autodesk, San Francisco, California, and Dan Hill, Vinnova, Stockholm, Sweden

Moderated by: Marcus Fairs, co-founder and editor in chief, Dezeen

What: Columbus Conversation: Futures and Technologies

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17

Columbus has long been a place of invention, but how are shifts in technology and manufacturing changing our city’s future? Miller Prize recipients Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream the Combine join local experts and community leaders in a dialogue about how innovation drives designs of the future.

Panelists: Cindy Frey, President, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers, Dream The Combine, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Moderated by: Donna Sink, Rowland Design, Indianapolis, IN

What: Thematic Conversation: Resiliency and Climate Adaptation

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29

New Middles: Resiliency and Climate Adaptation asks designer Iñaki Alday and landscape architect Kate Orff to reflect on how their practices are responding through landscape architecture and research to local and planetary climate crises. How is the Mississippi Watershed and the plains ecosystems and habitat impacted by a changing climate? The COVID-19 pandemic raises issues of how might middle cities and landscapes address global health challenges.What future-oriented ecological strategies will serve middle city landscapes and communities moving forward?

Panelists: Kate Orff, SCAPE, New York, New York, Iñaki Alday, Tulane University/aldayjover architecture and landscape, New Orleans, Louisaiana

Moderated by: Iker Gil, 2020-21 Curator, Exhibit Columbus

What: Columbus Conversation: Resiliency and Climate Adaptation

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1

What is Columbus’ past and future relationship with its own ecology and resiliency? Miller Prize recipients Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo of Ecosistema Urbano join Heather Pope, City of Columbus Director of Redevelopment, and landscape architect Rachel Kavathe in a dialogue that looks at Columbus’ historic relationship to its waterways and future ecological initiatives through the Riverfront Redevelopment Plan, and the introduction of pollinator parks to our community.

Panelists: Rachel Kavathe, Loci Creative, Columbus, Heather Pope, Columbus Redevelopment Director, Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, Ecosistema Urbano, Madrid/Miami, Florida

Moderated by: Janice Shimizu, Associate Curator, Exhibit Columbus / Ball State University

What: Thematic Conversation: Arts and Community

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 13

New Middles: Arts and Community is a roundtable conversation between artist and design strategist De Nichols, architect and urban designer Paola Aguirre, and artist-writer-researcher Matthew Fluharty. These three will draw on their expertise to look at how arts spaces and cultural organizations are shaping the future of the middle—rural, urban, and points in-between. As communities across the middle reckon with legacies and presents marked by white supremacy and structural racism, including Jim Crow–era monuments, how can speculation through art and design help people envision equitable civic spaces? How have in the past and how will in the future diverse groups of neighborhoods, communities, and individuals come together through art, design, and creativity?

Panelists: Paola Aguirre, Borderless Studio, Chicago, Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural and M12 Studio, Winona, Minnesota, De Nichols, Civic Creatives, St. Louis, Missouri

Moderated by: Anne Surak, Director, Exhibit Columbus

What: Columbus Conversation: Arts and Community

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 15

How might community-led cultural initiatives bring people together today and meaningfully improve tomorrow’s civic life? Featuring Miller Prize recipients Ann Lui and Craig Reshke of Future Firm and Sam Jacob of Sam Jacob Studio in discussion with community members Jessica Schnepp and others in this conversation that highlights the ways that grassroots creative networks, Friends of the Crump Theater and NOMAD, are at the front lines of preserving cultural arts spaces, and creating platforms that amplify voices and foster creativity as community asset.

Panelists: Sam Jacob, Sam Jacob Studio, London, England, Ann Lui and Craig Reschke, Future Firm, Chicago, Jessica Schnepp, Friends of Crump Theatre, Columbus, IN

Moderated by: Bryony Roberts, Bryony Roberts Studio, New York, New York.

What: Thematic Conversation: Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27

New Middles: Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking is a roundtable between designer Chris Cornelius, The Land Institute Founder Wes Jackson, artist/architect Joar Nango, and speculative artist and designer Ash Eliza Smith. A long timeline is central to this conversation, which asks what are lessons, past and future, of this land and indigenous design? How might alternative voices and perspectives in relations to land, agriculture, and ways of making reimagine North American narratives?

Panelists: Chris Cornelius (Oneida), studio: indigenous, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wes Jackson, The Land Institute, Topeka, Kansas Joar Nango (Sámi), FFB, Alta, Finland, Ash Eliza Smith, Carson Center of Emerging Media Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska

Moderated by: Mimi Zeiger, 2020-21 Curator, Exhibit Columbus

What: Columbus Conversation: Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 29

Whose voices shape an equitable future for Columbus? Miller Prize recipient Olalekan Jeyifous joins community leaders in a discussion that addresses how collaboration, alternative histories, and multiple narratives might play a role in the design of an inclusive future.

Panelist: Olalekan Jeyifous, Brooklyn, New York

Moderated by: Scott Shoemaker (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis

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To register, visit exhibitcolumbus.org to get more information about these free online conversations and to register for each talk. Thematic Conversations will be live streamed and recorded Tuesdays on Dezeen.com/exhibit-columbus, and Columbus Conversations will be live streamed and recorded Thursdays through Exhibit Columbus on Zoom and Facebook Live.

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About Exhibit Columbus

Exhibit Columbus is an exploration of architecture, art, design, and community that activates the design legacy of Columbus. It creates a cycle of programming that uses this context to convene conversations around innovative ideas and commissions site-responsive installations in a free, public exhibition. exhibitcolumbus.org

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Landmark Columbus Foundation cares for, celebrates, and advances the cultural heritage of Columbus. To fulfill its mission Landmark Columbus Foundation directs three locally-engaged and globally-connected programs that are interwoven in their impact and networks: Landmark Columbus, Exhibit Columbus, and Columbus Design Institute. landmarkcolumbusfoundation.org

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