Makerspace makeover: Propeller improvements take shape at airport

Efforts to improve the exterior of local makerspace could be finished by late summer.

As beautification work continues at Columbus Propeller, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey has estimated a possible July or August completion date for the project. She added that since the final piece will be a wall mural, this timeline will depend on the artist.

Earlier this year, Propeller completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for the endeavor by using the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s “CreatINg Places” matching grant program and Patronicity. The campaign raised more than $120,000, Frey said in March.

Planned improvements at Propeller include a street mural, wayfinding, a viewing platform for watching planes, greenery, signage, seating, a grill area and lighting, said Lulu Loquidis, co-founder of Landscape, Art & Architecture (LAA) Office in a previous interview. The firm has been hired to manage aspects of the exterior renovation project.

LAA Office is also the design team for the overall concept, including the street mural, said firm co-founder Daniel Martinez. According to Frey, this mural includes silver circles at Propeller’s main entrances, with lines radiating out that are intended to help direct people.

“I think what’s cool about it is, as planes are flying over, they’re going to see that pattern,” she added.

Employees from Toyota Material Handling, Centra Credit Union and Columbus Regional Health gave a helping hand to the project on May 4 and 5 as part of the United Way Day of Caring. Their work included painting the street mural, hanging festoon lighting, trimming trees and bushes, removing defunct strobe lights and fire alarm sirens, unpacking boxes and building “dozens of patio tables, chairs, and planters.”

The makerspace also hosted a work day on Friday, inviting volunteers to help with tasks such as planting, installing trellises and setting up outdoor furnishings.

The makeover will also include a wall mural. Twenty five artists have submitted portfolios to be considered for this project. Frey said that there will be a vote to select finalists, who will then be interviewed before a decision is made.

“One of the facades of the two buildings will have some kind of original artwork on it, which will be really exciting,” she said. “So that’ll be happening this summer, probably. Probably it’s going to take us a few months to get to that place.”

In addition to work on its exterior campus, Propeller has also hired a full-time training coordinator, Tracy Munn. Both Munn and Propeller lab technician Matteo Auteri are employed through a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus, according to makerspace leadership.

Frey said they’re “thrilled” about having more staff on site and believe this will lead to more activity on a regular basis.

“We’re starting to do more events,” she said. “And we’re starting to work with different partners, like organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts. We’re having conversations with parks and rec department about how to do more STEM-related activities for kids and family.”