In his 2014 TEDxBloomington talk, T. Kelly Wilson asked the audience to “see like an artist, think like a designer, and feel like a human.” We cannot think of better advice for the designers competing for the Miller Prize. Wilson will bring his insight to “Foundations and Futures” as moderator of the Miller Prize designers’ panels, which focus on how Columbus’ architectural legacy has shaped the designers’ trajectories for their installations.
Wilson is the Director of the Indiana University Center for Art+Design in Columbus. He earned a master of architecture from Harvard University and a bachelor of architecture from Auburn University. Before coming to Columbus, Wilson served as a professor at the Columbia University School of Architecture and at the Harvard Graduate School of Design before that. He has also held academic positions at Yale, MIT, Northeastern University, Rhode Island School of Design and Auburn University.
Wilson’s accomplishments as architect and artist have been widely recognized. He is the principal of Studio 922, an architectural and urban design practice with projects in China, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and Vietnam. Auburn University has awarded him the Paul Rudolph Fellowship twice. His architectural drawings have been published widely and his work as a visual artist is exhibited frequently in New York and in Boston, where he is represented by Gurari Collections.
If the way Wilson speaks indicates how he thinks, his thoughts roam through the disciplines of art, architecture, history, and urbanism while weaving in threads of his personal experiences. This virtuoso and engaging thought process reflects his multi-faceted role as an artist, architect, and educator. Combined with his background, his wide-ranging disposition makes Wilson a perfectly suited moderator for the Miller Prize panel discussions.
Wilson holds the built environment of Columbus in high regard for its connection to the social framework of the community. He explains, “The philosophy of the architecture of Columbus is one that made the creation of radically new ideas possible.” The architecture of Columbus and its philosophy are intensely self-aware, highly contextual, and yet relatively humble. The humility of Columbus and its architecture may have muffled its national recognition, but Wilson argues that its philosophy has spurred progress and still has the potential to inspire change. The city of Columbus embodies Wilson’s charge to see like an artist, think like a designer, and feel like a human. The buildings highlighted by Exhibit Columbus are beautiful to behold, thoughtfully designed, and serve human needs on a human scale.
The Wilson-moderated panels of designers play multiple roles within “Foundations and Futures.” First, these panels introduce the designers who will participate in Exhibit Columbus for the chance to win the Miller Prize. The panels will also give the designers a chance to explain their philosophies and indicate possible directions for their Exhibit Columbus projects. In addition, Wilson hopes that these panels will excite and reinvigorate national and local enthusiasm for Columbus’ contributions to architecture. Wilson says, “I want these panels, and Exhibit Columbus in general, to draw the attention of people who haven’t had the chance to experience Columbus.” Raising awareness about Columbus’ architecture is the first step in raising awareness of the underlying philosophy of the city and its built environment.
This philosophy has the potential to foster radically beneficial new ideas. These ideas are not limited to architecture; they are simply manifested in it. They have implications in society, the economy, and other broad-reaching fields. The designers’ panels in “Foundations and Futures” will help demonstrate the interconnected nature of these processes, helping you see like an artist, think like a designer, and feel like a human.