Fifty percent of the habitable surface of our planet is dedicated to food production. It is the world’s largest industry, yet our cultural, spiritual, and historical relationship to how we cook and what we eat is largely disconnected. Corn / Meal asks us to reflect on how we can strengthen our relationship with our food, taking familiar elements of the American Heartland—a field of corn and the classic picnic table—and shaping them into an interactive landscape of living architecture where students and the public alike are invited to reconnect to what we eat and how we cook.

Central Middle School’s cafeteria and classrooms overlook this living installation that features five varieties of corn including two types of field corn, two types of edible popcorn, and a dwarf cultivar. The installation’s signature events include a Back-to-School Meal and an alternative Thanksgiving where indigenous culture is honored and celebrated.

Materials - Corn, soil, picnic tables

Installation Sponsor

Bartholomew County FFA Organizations

Fabrication Sponsors

Black Jewel Popcorn


Landmark Farms Foundation

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.

MASS Design Group – 2019 Exhibition from Exhibit Columbus on Vimeo.

MASS Design Group is a nonprofit architecture firm that operates with the understanding that all architecture is embedded in a social, cultural, and political context. They have built a reputation for creating sensitive projects that strengthen community ties and use architecture to heal.

Their international portfolio of mission-driven projects that span the fields of design, research, advocacy, and training was recognized with the 2017 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, and recently they earned the 2018 Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture. MASS partnered with the Equal Justice Initiative to design and build the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a deeply symbolic and powerful site for reflection on the nation's history of racial terror and lynching. The memorial opened in April 2018 to national praise. MASS Design Group is driven by the shared belief in architecture that serves the community, without compromising high standards of beauty and design.

"The design legacy of Columbus represents one of the core values that MASS Design Group stands for: architecture can improve lives. In Columbus, architecture has always been about more than just a building, it has both created and continues to represent the city’s vibrant, tight-knit community. We, like J. Irwin Miller, are driven by the shared belief in architecture that serves the community, without compromising high standards of beauty and design."

The corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets provides the most impressive view of this distinctive sawtooth-patterned building—a nod to Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates’ Cummins Corporate Office Building on the other end of Fifth Street. It also sits close to Cummins Engine Plant Number 1, and the original garage of Clessie Cummins, the innovative force who transformed Rudolf Diesel’s engine into a 20th century powerhouse. Central Middle School is a testament to the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program’s investment in educational facilities throughout Bartholomew County with 14 of the 17 schools built with support from this program since the 1950s.


The interior garden bed of Corn / Meal is not accessible to visitors using a wheelchair. There are ramps entering the corn field, but the ground is unstable, consisting of a dirt or mulch mixture.