The Washington Street Civic Projects are designed by mission-driven organizations from across North America that will activate sites throughout downtown. They are Borderless Studio (Chicago), Extrapolation Factory (New York), LA Más (Los Angeles), People for Urban Progress (Indianapolis), and PienZa Sostenible (Mexico City).
Following the inaugural symposium in 2016 and a critically acclaimed exhibition in 2017,
Exhibit Columbus looked to the 1986 National Building Museum exhibition,
Good Design and
the Community: Columbus, Indiana
, as a source of inspiration for its 2018-19 round of
programming. Created when Columbus businessman and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller became
the first person inducted into the National Building Museum Hall of Fame, that exhibition
honored the Miller family’s legacy of servant leadership and the entire city’s commitment to
make Columbus the best community of its size.
This year, Exhibit Columbus explores the thematic concept of “good design and the community”
in a tangible way by inviting architects, artists, and designers to create outdoor installations and
experiences that use Columbus’s built heritage as context and inspiration. In addition to the five
previously announced design concepts by the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize Recipients and
the six University Design Research Fellows, the Washington Street Civic Projects will showcase
innovative work created by five leaders dedicated to using architecture, art, and design to
improve people’s lives, connect communities, and catalyze efforts to make cities more equitable
“The Washington Street Civic Projects provide a unique lens through which we hope to examine the notion of civic engagement through exhibition,” said Anne Surak, Exhibit Columbus Director of Exhibitions. “These innovative organizations use architecture and design as tools of collaboration to effect positive change in their own cities, and we are excited to have them develop temporary projects in our community.”
In Columbus there is a long history of planning and, in particular, master planning for
downtown, including a unifying design scheme for Washington Street created by Alexander
Girard in 1965 and work by Paul Kennon and Robert Venturi in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2018, David Rubin Land Collective completed a yearlong community-based downtown
development plan called “Envision Columbus.” For this year’s Exhibit Columbus exhibition,
Washington Street Civic Project Leaders were asked to consider the history of planning and
development of Washington Street, Columbus’s “Main Street,” as a place of civic and
2018–19 Washington Street Civic Project Leaders
Borderless Studio (Chicago) is an urban design and research consultancy focused on shaping communities through collaborative design. The Chicago-based studio, led by Paola Aguirre, explores comprehensive city design solutions that address complex urban systems and equitable development, with emphasis on research and communication across disciplines and fields of practice.
Love Letter to The Crump
The Crump Theater is a significant asset in downtown Columbus – after more than two decades
of assessment and feasibility studies for its redevelopment, the stepping stones for its
rehabilitation and reactivation are falling into place and plans for its rebirth as a performing
arts center are gaining momentum. This project consists of a collective “love letter” showcased
through a large-scale exterior curtain installation at The Crump. The letter will be written in the
abstract – a new graphic pattern inspired by Alexander Girard’s urban and textile design
practices – and designed in collaboration with members of the community through
participatory workshops where they will contribute to the creation of an abstract language
inspired by the architectural features and character of the art deco theatre. The project’s
purpose is to invite both residents and visitors to reflect on the transformation process of places
in Columbus – foremost, Love Letter to The Crump aims to generate a dialogue about new
forms and meanings for preservation, as well as shared values and processes that could guide
our decisions about heritage places in our cities.
Extrapolation Factory (New York) is a design-based research studio for participatory futures studies, founded by Chris Woebken and Elliott P. Montgomery. The studio develops experimental methods for collaboratively prototyping, experiencing and impacting future scenarios. With this work, the studio is exploring new territories for democratized futures by rapidly imagining, prototyping, distributing, and evaluating visions of possible futures on an extended time scale.
Central to Extrapolation Factory’s methods of engagement are the creation of hypothetical future props and their deployment in familiar public contexts. Futures Kiosk will be installed on the sidewalk where Washington Street meets 2nd Street at an active corner that connects City Hall, the Bartholomew County Courthouse and Veterans Memorial, and The Republic Building. This installation, and its location at the heart of civic exchange, encourages members of the public to use the kiosk to contemplate, articulate, and share future visions for Columbus. Each vision generated by members of the public, depicted as a short sentence and image, will be digitally shared with the mayor's office with the intention that this database of visions offers decision makers inspiration and insight into the public's desirable futures.
LA Más (Los Angeles) is a non-profit urban design organization, led by co-executive directors Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung, that helps lower-income and underserved communities shape their own growth. Based in Los Angeles, LA-Más creates projects that are alternative models for development in neighborhoods that have been historically disinvested in and shut out of formal planning initiatives. Timme’s training in architecture and design and Leung’s background in public policy and planning allow LA-Más to engage thoughtfully with the communities they serve.
Thank U, Next an informal meeting space for the City of Columbus
This project will serve as a destination for people from all parts of the city and from all
backgrounds to have shared civic experiences. This project thanks civic leaders and past
architects for their highly formal contributions to Washington Street, but also looks to create
the next precedent for an alternative. As this area is often viewed as a hub for the middle class
and wealthy, the project is an explicit and implicit invitation to working class residents to
redefine Washington Street. It also presents an urban plaza that is flexible, reconfigurable,
playful, multiple, and open. A moveable table that adapts to diverse programming, this project
creates a sense of inclusivity to all residents and provides a place for social and cultural
togetherness. The project will also host a calendar of delightful programming hosted by
Columbus community organizations that will bring Washington Street to life with a bold spirit
of inclusivity. Residents are encouraged to reconfigure the space and define for Columbus the
potential of its urban programming.
People for Urban Progress (PUP) (Indianapolis) is a non-profit that advances good design and civic sustainability by developing products and projects that promote connectivity, responsible reuse, and making. With founder Michael Bricker as director of public design, PUP’s work is about rethinking the future of cities as it relates to the lifecycle of its materials, matching these resources with existing community needs.
Small town America is Main Street. As Robert Venturi famously noted in 1972, “Main Street is almost alright.” But as Main Street ages, reinvents, and adapts, it tends to absorb layers of signage, amenities, and infrastructure. This accumulation creates visual noise and redundancies. Ten years prior to Venturi’s statement, Alexander Girard commented on Washington Street specifically, “We have pretty much arrived at a ‘jungle’ wherein one sees everything at the same time he is seeing a blur of nothing.” Our installation, inspired by Girard’s comment, is an architecture of subtraction. By inserting a series of reflective panels and surfaces on public infrastructure along an entire city block of Washington Street, Jungle Subtraction aims to visually edit the pedestrian landscape. This project asks, how can an architecture of subtraction today help the Main Street of tomorrow?
PienZa Sostenible (Mexico City) is a non-profit association that promotes the research, study, analysis, implementation, monitoring, and coordination on the current situation in Mexico. Led by architect Carlos Zedillo Velasco, PienZa Sostenible helped form ReConstruir México - an initiative that brings together architects and professionals to make knowledge and techniques available for the reconstruction of affected homes in vulnerable communities affected by the devastating 2017 earthquakes in the country. More than 40 distinguished architecture offices are now building 154 houses in seven of Mexico’s most damaged communities.
The bee is one of the most important living beings in the world. The reduction of the bee
population in the last decades is directly influencing the process of pollination, the breeding of
other living beings, and the nutritional and variety of natural products. Mexico is one of the
leading exporters and producers of bee and apiculture products worldwide thanks to its natural
resources and environment. PienZa Sostenible promotes the protection and care of the bee as
one of its priority actions as a declining bee population is a problem that affects us all. This
project, Las Abejas, includes deep research into the study of bees and beehives, and the present
importance of apiculture. In a model similar to the ReConstruir México initiative, the
installation for Exhibit Columbus invites critically-acclaimed / internationally-renowned
architects and Mexican designers to devise and build bee houses that encourage understanding
of the importance of bees, while also contributing to increasing bee populations. Participants
include TAX | Alberto Kalach, Tatiana Bilbao Studio, Rozana Montiel Arquitectos, and CC
About Exhibit Columbus
Exhibit Columbus is an exploration of architecture, art, design, and community that activates the design legacy of Columbus, Indiana. It creates a cycle of programming that uses this context to convene conversations around innovative ideas and commissions site-responsive installations in a free, public exhibition. exhibitcolumbus.org
About Landmark Columbus Foundation
Landmark Columbus Foundation cares for, celebrates, and advances the cultural heritage of Columbus, Indiana. To fulfill its mission Landmark Columbus Foundation directs three locally-engaged and globally-connected programs that are interwoven in their impact and networks: Landmark Columbus, Exhibit Columbus, and Columbus Design Institute. landmarkcolumbusfoundation.org