For The Tribune

The city’s storied architecture takes on a new look starting today. The Exhibit Columbus exhibition is the culmination of 15 months of anticipation.

The three-month exhibition features 18 temporary architectural installations that took inspiration from nearby structures, buildings or other area designs.

Local high school students created the multi-colored strand work, “Between the Threads” at Seventh and Washington streets downtown. It becomes the first piece to be officially highlighted in a 5 p.m. ceremony, although it has entertained visitors and passersby since early August.

Richard McCoy, one of the Exhibit Columbus founders and part of 12-person curatorial team, said he believes the body of new work will match in quality any other architectural exhibition in the nation.

The project, announced in May 2016, has attracted seasoned designers from all over the U.S. and seven nations, including professionals whose work stands nationwide and abroad.

“We’re hoping for a really great feeling all over town,” McCoy said.

For a few of the installations, however, designers and their builders are working feverishly this week to complete their projects.

That includes Miller Prize-winning designer Chris Cornelius of Studio:indigenous, whose creative “Wiikiaami,” which means wigwam in the Miyaamia language, was still a skeleton of its finished form late Tuesday afternoon outside First Christian Church on Fifth Street.

But Cornelius, whose office is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been in Columbus regularly in recent weeks to supervise progress.

“We realize that some of them will be more down-to-the-wire than others,” McCoy said, adding that designers took on these pieces without the thought of benefiting financially while also simultaneously running their for-profit operations and projects.

Technically, the completion deadline is 2 p.m. Saturday for most of the pieces done by professionals, McCoy said.

By Tuesday afternoon, most of the six university-designed installations still were being trucked to Columbus in various pieces to be reassembled onsite near Central Middle School.

Exhibit Columbus is labeled as an annual exploration of architecture, art, and design, alternating between a symposium and an exhibition. It is a project of Landmark Columbus and a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

The Indianapolis-based Efroymson Family Fund is the 2017 Exhibition Presenting Sponsor by virtue of $250,000 it provided in seed money and a challenge grant given in fall of 2014. But the event also has a broad range of financial support from other foundations, businesses, corporations and donors, according to organizers.

The project’s reach and links include background on some of the globally significant local architecture that long ago set the stage for Exhibit Columbus.

For example, Tricia Gilson, archivist and curator of the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives, opens a mostly photograhic exhibit, “Avenue of the Architects,” that will provide historical context for the city’s significant structures along Fifth Street, often referred to by the exhibit’s name.

The display, a team project involving a range of contributors including Columbus furniture designer Jonathan Nesci, will be inside the Bartholomew County Public Library and will highlight the exhibition’s Miller Prize sights. It also will be a part of the Columbus Area Arts Council’s free Art Walk scheduled from 5:30 to 9 p.m. today.

Among other elements, Gilson mentioned that she’s proud of the fact that the display is one part of a distinctly local flavor amid Exhibit Columbus’ outside creators that she acknowledged are impressive. Other local works include the local high schoolers’ “Between the Threads” piece and “Shadow of an Unknown Bird” by artists and designers with the Indiana University Center for Art + Design working alongside Cummins Inc. engineers.

“Our good, local creations certainly can stand up alongside these other creations, and show what we’re capable of doing as a community,” Gilson said.

The same goes for the work of various Midwestern university student designers. Janice Shimizu and Joshua Coggeshall, university installations coordinators, mentioned that students have shown remarkable teamwork, with schools helping each other.

Shimizu pointed out that a somewhat furious last-minute construction phase of the past few days “is really a good, practical learning experience for the students.”

She laughed when asked about deadline pressure.

“Yes, it can be stressful,” Shimizu said. “But you have to remember that this entire Exhibit Columbus is very ambitious. We all are trying to do an awful lot.”

A: “Another Circle”
Mill Race Park
B: “Anything can happen in the woods”
Plan B Architecture & Urbanism
Cummins Corporate Office Building
C: “The Exchange”
Oyler Wu Collaborative
Irwin Conference Center
D: “Wiikiaami” studio:indigenous
First Christian Church
E: Conversation Plinth
Cleo Rogers Memorial Library
F: “Theoretical Foyer”
Cody Hoyt
G: “Pause”
Pettersen & Hein
H: “Window to Columbus”
I: “Columbus Circles”
J: “Playhouse”
at Central Middle School
K: “49262”
Ball State University
L: “Inscribed”
Ohio State University
M: “Alchemy”
University of Cincinnati
N: “Indelible
University of Kentucky
O: “Cloud / Bank”
University of Michigan
at North Christian Church
P: “Synergia”
Indiana University
Q: “Between the Threads”
High School Design Team