Exhibit Columbus: A City as a Canvas

Axis Architecture Blog Post

Columbus, Indiana, is a heck of a city. It’s got that small town charm, that Midwestern friendliness. But it also boasts more than 80 buildings, landscapes, and public works of art by the likes of Alexander Girard, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, and Harry Weese.

In other words, it’s a mecca for modern architecture.

But thanks to Exhibit Columbus, architecture and design lovers have continued to flock to the “Athens of the Prairie – and Axis is no exception.

Recently, our entire studio toured Exhibit Columbus, which opened in August and comprises 18 on-site installations. Ones that are tucked into alleyways on Washington Street, or encircle Henry Moore’s Large Arch. Each installation demands attention, and energizes the spaces in and around Columbus’ modern masterpieces.

Wiikiaami was beautiful. Elegant, really. And The Exchange – adjacent to the Cummins Irwin Office Building – looked like it had always been there. (Even if parts of it reminded us of the inside of a refrigerator.) Sure, we had our favorites. (Here’s looking at you, Playhouse.) But what we loved most about Exhibit Columbus was its ability to make us feel like we were students again. We could explore each installation and experience a sense of playfulness. We climbed. Touched. Perched upon. Walked around. Ran through.

We became children once more.

Following our visit, we compared notes. A few of us thought integrated installations like Anything can happen in the woods – a project that used existing architecture as a canvas – have the most impact. And some of us felt inspired by the inclusion of both professional and student design work. We appreciated the ability to learn about the fabrication of each installation, and see, touch, and experience everything from Rookwood tiles to plastic string. But overall, Exhibit Columbus renewed our interest in the city, its architecture, and its design legacy.

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