Through the 50’s and 60’s, a wealthy industrialist named J. Irwin Miller invited the world’s leading architects to remake Columbus, Indiana into an unlikely headquarters for the avant-garde. Acting as patron, Miller became the Medici of the Midwest, and single-handedly transformed remote little Columbus into a mecca of modern architecture. Show-stopping buildings include The North Christian Church (1964), above, by Finish-American architect Eero Saarinen, most famous for the TWA terminal building at JFK, as well as Miller’s own house (1957), a modernist masterpiece with gardens by Dan Kiley and interiors by Alexander Girard.
A true pioneer, Miller was an activist as well as a philanthropist. Working with Martin Luther King Jr, he was a strong advocate for the Civil Rights Act (1964). He was someone who felt change and improvement was something to be embraced rather than feared. Thanks to his dedication to fine architecture and his understanding of the importance of civic art, this small Midwestern town is ranked alongside architectural heavyweights New York and Chicago. To honor and protect that legacy, an annual event called Exhibit Columbus aims to inspire other communities to invest in design to make people and cities stronger.
National Symposium, 26-29 September 2018; exhibitcolumbus.com