Studio Zewde, Reed Hilderbrand among firms recommended for landscape at AirPark Columbus College Campus

Something in the Air

Studio Zewde, Reed Hilderbrand among firms recommended for landscape at AirPark Columbus College Campus

A major campus landscape refresh will follow the completion of the new, IwamotoScott-designed Ivy Tech building at the Airpark Columbus College Campus. (Courtesy IwamotoScott)

The nonprofit Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus, Indiana, has announced a potential collaboration with the Cummins Foundation on a unifying, inclusivity-minded landscape design project for the tri-school AirPark Columbus College Campus. For the project, the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program has recommended four landscape architecture and urban design firms: Harlem-based Studio Zewde; Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Reed Hilderbrand; Seattle’s GGN, and the Indianapolis-based Merritt Chase. Each recommended firm will partake in a series of virtual presentations in April to discuss how their approach to potential designs for the project, with a final selection announced in early May.

Located on the northside of Columbus opposite the Columbus Municipal Airport, AirPark Columbus College Campus is a shared campus that serves as home to three educational institutions: Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, and Indiana University—Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC). Four main buildings flank a central quad to comprise the campus: The Campus Center (CC) Building, which serves as IUPUC’s main building, the Columbus Learning Center (CLC), the Advanced Manufacturing Center for Excellence (AMCE), and Poling Hall, which is Ivy Tech’s current home and will be replaced by a $32 million new building designed by IwamotoScott due for completion in 2022.

The Cummins Foundation, the charitable arm of the titular engine design and manufacturing giant that has helped to establish its Indiana hometown as a global architectural hotspot, sponsored the CLC (designed Kevin Kennon of Kohn Pedersen Fox, 2004), the AMCE (designed by Cesar Pelli, 2009), and the upcoming new Ivy Tech building and will, as mentioned, lend potential support to a future campus landscape overhaul. (Both the CLC and AMCE are facilities managed by the CEC and shared between all three schools.)

As for the landscape project in question, it will focus on the reimagining of the space left behind by the aging Poling Hall on the southwestern end of campus; it will be demolished once the new Ivy Tech building, located on the southern end of the quad, is completed. Per a joint press release issued by the CEC and the respective schools, the project “offers an exciting opportunity to create a unifying identity for the campus, that improves the physical connections between campus buildings while maintaining the individuality of the three institutions of higher education.”

The release continues:

Through the landscape design project, the AirPark Campus partners also seek to advance the shared objective of becoming the most equitable campus and first choice of students in the region to pursue and receive the right post-secondary education credential, linking directly to great employment opportunities in Southeast Indiana. By understanding the unique characteristics of the student population to create a barrier-free campus that is welcoming and inclusive to all students, the campus partners hope to create a landscape design that will foster a campus experience that helps all students achieve their educational aspirations leading to well-paying employment.

“We are excited about the possibility of supporting this important landscape design work and continuing our collaborative partnership with the educational institutions on the AirPark Campus to maintain our commitment to both the architectural and educational excellence in Columbus,” said Mary Chandler, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Cummins Inc. and CEO of the Cummins Foundation, in a statement.

While the project is obviously very much in the early stages, AN will report back when a landscape architecture firm has been selected to head the campus landscape refresh at AirPark Columbus College Campus.