Soft Civic responds to both the architectural geometry of City Hall and its symbolic role as the center of civic leadership in the community. Custom-fabricated structures with colorful woven surfaces activate the public spaces around the building’s main entrance as destinations for play, performance, and participation. Soft Civic invites a range of impromptu activities and also hosts a series of events created in partnership with community organizations, including youth leadership meetings, public discussions on democracy, and music performances. The use of woven rope explores how a nontraditional building material can perform at an architectural scale. The soft, tactile qualities of the woven surfaces encourage playfulness and interaction at a site of governance.

Through patterns of weaving and knotting, Soft Civic brings the texture of domestic spaces into the public sphere. The red-orange rope riffs on the brick of City Hall, transforming the colors of the building into a textile landscape. Created in collaboration with a textile workshop in Brooklyn, the weaving represents a collective effort of repetitive knotting and echoes the installation’s programming, which fosters collective participation in making local democracy.

Materials - Painted steel and custom-dyed nylon rope

Installation Sponsor

Efroymson Family Fund

Fabrication Sponsors


Ignition Arts

Matthews Paint

Powerhouse Arts

Warner Steel

The J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Profile Films are a partnership between Exhibit Columbus and filmmaking collaborative Spirit of Space. Five short films offer a behind-the-scenes look at the stories and inspiration behind the Miller Prize installations in the 2019 Exhibition: Good Design and the Community.

Bryony Roberts Studio – 2019 Exhibition from Exhibit Columbus on Vimeo.

Bryony Roberts Studio is an architectural design practice that creates projects in response to complex cultural histories and urban conditions. Founder and principal Bryony Roberts argues for greater exchanges between the fields of architecture, art, and preservation in order to develop new modes of creativity in relation to historical sites. She uses design to bring attention to overlooked social histories and to make intangible heritage vivid and accessible to contemporary audiences. This work involves close collaboration with communities who are seeking to preserve and sustain their own histories, as in the exhibition and performance project “Marching On,” with Mabel Wilson and the Marching Cobras, commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture with Performa 17. Roberts’ work has earned numerous awards, including a Rome Prize in Historic Preservation in 2015-2016 at the American Academy in Rome and the Architectural League Prize of 2018.

Image Credits: "We Know How to Order," Bryony Roberts and the South Shore Drill Team; photo by Andrew Bruah. "Marching On," Bryony Roberts and Mabel O Wilson; photo by Miguel de Guzman.

Edward Charles Bassett remarked in a 1982 televised interview that civic buildings should ennoble the spirit by playing a prominent role in public life. Columbus City Hall is iconic for its striking geometry—most readily identified by the impressive cantilevers hovering above the entryway. Designed as an isosceles triangle, the austere brick exterior opens into a semicircular atrium encased in glass. As part of the city’s master plan led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the 1960s and 1970s, City Hall is inextricably entwined to the nearby civic buildings, namely the Bartholomew County Courthouse and the Republic Newspaper Building.


Soft Civic is located on the plaza of the Columbus City Hall. Accessible access to the upper level via elevator is available during City Hall business hours (Monday – Friday / 8:00 am - 5:00 pm). Public restrooms are available only during business hours. The accessible entrance is located through the back entrance near the parking lot. Additionally, the accessible entrance will be open during select special events.