Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates’ Cummins Corporate Office Building (COB) is located on a site rich with Columbus history. An early railroad hub, it saw the building of the Cerealine Mill in the 1870s—which later became home to Cummins Machine Works until 1919. Cummins purchased the land in 1975 for their new corporate headquarters. Completed in 1984, Roche and Dinkeloo’s two-story building features an ivied portico that opens onto a large, urban green space. With its audacious space planning and industrial design and lighting schemes, the COB pointed to new directions in corporate office design.
Plan B imagines the columns of the Cummins Corporate Office Building pergola multiplying to form a kind of urban forest, titled Anything can happen in the woods. The new columns are mirrored as a nod to Roche Dinkeloo’s aesthetic and to reflect their surroundings: green hedges, the busy street, and the Post Office opposite, another Roche Dinkeloo design. Landscape forms - conversation pits, outdoor rooms, and grass-covered mounds - punctuate the mirrored woodland, enticing viewers to explore and inhabit a space that is usually passed through or passed by.
Baumgartner+Uriu’s design is located on the corner of 5th and Brown street inside the colonnade that frames the Cummins Corporate Office Building by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, and relates to the site and its context in multiple ways. One, it transforms the sawtooth plan shape of the office building into an extruded volume, that is then multiplied and aggregated into a multidirectional object with a large interior space one can access through a large opening along 5th street. The other is the use of transparency, mirrors and reflection, which is one of the signature moves for the office building and was worked into Baumgartner+Uriu’s design to enhance both the interior and exterior quality of their installation. From the inside, the large apertures precisely frame particular views while the mirror effect helps to blur the edge between inside and outside. From the exterior, the object, by reflecting its context, camouflages into its surroundings. The installation is fabricated out of a combination of brushed and mirror finished stainless steel. And last is it embraces the idea of an optical and spatial machine of the future that is suspended, hovering just slightly above the ground and in homage to the engines produced by Cummin’s and which are displayed as artifacts in their lobby.
The final design creates a multidirectional spatial construct, that creates a single interior space connected to multiple volumes and openings. These offer different spatial experiences and vantage points into the interior and out to the surrounding environment. The reflective nature of the material and the geometry of the design intensifies the blurring of interior and exterior spaces with the intention to generate an optical and spatial machine that allows its visitor to experience architectural space in new ways and encourages curiosity and interaction with it.