Columbus, Indiana, is a small city with a big architectural legacy. It’s home to some of modern architecture’s most intriguing buildings, designed by the likes of Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Kevin Roche.
In 2017, Columbus cemented its reputation as a hotbed of design with Exhibit Columbus, a new biennale that celebrates the city’s heritage with exhibitions, installations, and events, anchored by the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize (named for the community’s major patrons of architecture, art, and design in the 20th century), which honors some of contemporary architecture and design’s most forward-thinking practitioners.
For this year’s Exhibit Columbus, the five winners of the prize designed installations that will pop up around some of Columbus’s most famed buildings and landmark sites. The firms—Frida Escobedo Studio, Bryony Roberts Studio, Agency Landscape + Planning, and Curbed Groundbreakers honorees MASS Design Group and SO-IL—were asked to draw on the town’s history of using design to create community.
The resulting designs cleverly interact with existing architecture while playing with the idea of public space. Frida Escobedo Studio will activate the plaza outside of I.M. Pei’s Cleo Rogers Memorial Library with elevated terraces that are planted with native plants, trees, and wildflowers. Meanwhile, SO-IL will transform the area outside of Isaac Hodgson’s Bartholomew County Court House into an interactive installation that uses netting woven around hedges to create a giant hammock that people can lay on or explore.
At the AT&T Facility, Agency will reveal community stories, especially those of Columbus’s women, in a temporary landscape that will host a plant nursery and events. At Columbus City Hall, Bryony Roberts Studio will enhance the recessed, semi-circular entrance for civic gatherings with custom multifunctional steel seating and platforms. And at Central Middle School, MASS Design Group’s landscape installation will comprise a corn field with an “intimate outdoor room” for food literacy events and shared meals.
Learn more about all the Miller Prize winners and hear them talk through their designs and process in the series of short videos below, created by filmmaking collaborative The Spirit of Space. The installations will be on view from August 24 through December 1.