Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc. --> A Visit to Columbus Part I

A Visit to Columbus
Part I

Linda and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary with a quick get-away to Columbus, IN. Our interest was piqued with the IMA's opening of the J. Irwin Miller House for tours this past May. So we made an overnight out of it by taking both the home tour and the Columbus architectural tour, as well as staying at the Irwin Gardens Inn Bed & Breakfast, and generally getting to know Columbus' downtown.

The Milller House, thought by many to be one of American's most significant examples of a modernist home, was completed in 1957 by Cummins' industrialist, J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia. Designed by renowned architect, Eero Saarinnen, designer of such notable structures as the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Dulles International Airport, the home was occupied by the Miller family for over 50 years until it passed to the IMA along with a $5 million endowment in 2009.

A low, glass and marble structure broken into 4 quadrants, it overlooks an expansive, beautifully landscaped 13 acres of ground that descends to the banks of the Flat Rock River. The home is difficult to describe and must be viewed in historical context, since it would be impossible to imagine someone spending so much on so few square feet today. The beauty and simplicity of its design, the striking colors and interior textures supplied by designer Alexander Girard, who was at the time, design director for Herman Miller, and the dramatic landscaping by landscape architect, Dan Kiley, all combine to make this a livable work of art. But plan ahead....only 2 tours of 13 people each are offered daily, and we overheard that they are booked into October. We think spring would be a great time to visit.

Columbus, Indiana, already boasted some impressive turn of the 20th century architecture when in the early 1940's, Miller's interest in architecture and influence as the leader of Cummins Diesel, lead to an explosion of modern architecture in the city. Under Irwin's leadership, the Cummins Foundation subsidized the selection of some of the 20th century's most renowned architects to design both public and private buildings in the city. Today, Columbus is ranked 6th in the nation for significant architectural structures by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) behind New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, Boston and Washington DC. There are more than 70 buildings designed by noted modern architects such as I.M. Pei and Cesar Pelli.

The architectural tour, ours led by an 11 year veteran docent, is a great way to see a variety of modern architectural styles in the city. The most dramatic structures are the churches, but even the county jail and the many schools are architectural award winners. The 2 hour bus trip covered the dramatic 2nd Street Bridge, the very impressive city hall, the I.M. Pei designed library, and 4 very impressive churches, 2 of which included walking tours. Also available is a brochure that maps a self guided tour that might take 2 days instead of 2 hours...but maybe something we would consider for a future weekend get-away.