The 2022 Exhibit Columbus Symposium unites community members, civic leaders, and designers to explore the power of public space

Columbus Bound?

The 2022 Exhibit Columbus Symposium unites community members, civic leaders, and designers to explore the power of public space

A public alley off Washington Street in downtown Columbus. (Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation)

Public by Design, the fourth symposium of Exhibit Columbus, is just days away from kicking off in downtown Columbus, Indiana—the very place that’s serving as a proving ground of sorts in an exploration as to how disparate community members in cities across the country can come together and flex their collective muscle to (re)activate and shape the outcomes of their own downtowns.

The two-day symposium will take place on Friday, October 21 at The Commons, a multifaceted community event space that replaces a similar previous venue designed by César Pelli, and at other sites in and around Columbus’s downtown core; programming on Saturday, October 22 will be held at the nearby Columbus City Hall, a 1981 design by Charles Edward Bassett of SOM. Considering that the format of the 2022 Symposium is geared to “inspire engagement from the community of Columbus, around the state, and far beyond,” all events held on both days, including a trio of keynote conversations and talks/site tours with the four recipients of the 2022–2023 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize, are free and open to the public with a suggestion donation. (Registration info and a full schedule can be found here.)

The action-packed proceedings kicks off at The Commons on the 21st with a keynote from Trinity Simons Wagner, executive director of the Mayor’s Institute on City Design. She will discuss the recently launched 2022 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship and the role that mayors play in shaping and shepherding civic design in their own respective cities. Throughout the rest of the day, Exhibit Columbus will host two types of sessions, EXPLORE and CONNECT, the former of which will allow attendees to visit the four public institutions where the Miller Prize recipients will realize each realize a site-specific outdoor installation during the 2023 Exhibit Columbus Exhibition, which will commence next August. Friday CONNECT sessions will take place back at The Commons and will feature each Miller Prize recipient discussing the unique histories and design challenges at each specific site where they will stage their respective design interventions. One of the sites is The Commons itself.

“The 2023 Exhibition will feature temporary installations throughout downtown whose impacts will be lasting and profound. They will grow from the ideas explored in the Symposium, collaborations with community partners, and the creative imagination of the participants,” the Public by Design curatorial statement explained. “The installations can serve as prototypes for permanent change in the urban core of this city and examples for other communities to consider.”

As announced last month, the Miller Prize recipients and their partnering institutions along with the architecturally significant Columbus sites where they will realize design interventions for the Exhibition are:

Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO partnering with the Bartholomew County Public Library | Cleo Rogers Memorial Library Plaza (I.M. Pei)

PORT partnering with the Mill Race Center | Mill Race Center (William Rawn Associates) at Mill Race Park

Practice for Architecture and Urbanism | PAU partnering with the City of Columbus Department of Public Works | The Commons (Koetter Kim & Associates)

Studio Zewde (Harlem, New York), partnering with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department | Mill Race Park (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates)

The first day will conclude with a reception at Upland Brewing C. followed by a keynote panel discussion featuring all four Miller Prize recipients moderated by Julie McClure, editor of The Republic.

Day two of the symposium at Columbus City Hall begins with a keynote talk featuring Rachel Kaplan-David, director of the Chicago Architectural Biennial, and Jenny Gil Schmitz, executive of Desert X. Rasul Mowatt, Department Head of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University, will serve as moderator. From there, the day will feature two additional CONNECT sessions with the 2022–2023 Exhibit Columbus University Design Fellows, also announced last month along with the Miller Prize recipients, in conversation with New York-based James Lima Planning + Development.

Back in July, Exhibit Columbus launched the University Design Research Fellowship (UDRF) competition. While the UDRF is not a new element of the event, this is the first time it has been staged as an open competition—and one juried by a cohort of community members. Competition participants were invited to “respond to, enhance, and/or critique” downtown activation strategies recommended by James Lima Planning + Development within the firm’s City of Columbus-commissioned Downtown Activation Study. The selected projects are ones that spark conversation about the future of downtown Columbus.

The 2022–2023 University Design Research Fellows participating in day two sessions to discussing their projects are:

An additional CONNECT session will be held on Saturday with Chris Grimley and Rick Valicenti, graphic designers for the 2022–2023 cycle of Exhibit Columbus, along with an additional presentation featuring the High School Design Team and Elementary STEM Students.

All three keynote presentations are eligible for AIA Continuing Education Credits.

“We’re excited to have the Exhibit Columbus Symposium return in person with all of these amazing participants,” said Columbus Mayor James D. Lienhoop in a statement. “It’s going to be a rare moment to interact with some of the most inspiring people in the country, and we get to do it all in Southern Indiana, when this area is full of beautiful fall colors.”

As noted by Exhibit Columbus, the end of next week and next weekend is a busy one in and around the modernist architecture–famous Midwestern city. In addition to the 2022 Exhibit Columbus Symposium, the Indiana chapter of the American Institute of Architects is holding its annual conference on October 21 at the SOM-designed, National Historic Landmark–listed Republic Building in downtown Columbus, home to Indiana University’s J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program. The Columbus Area Arts Council is also hosting an all-day workshop with glass blowing artist Lisa Pelo at the 6th Street Arts Alley on October 21–23 and on the evening of October 22 the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic will host a concert with Maestro Timothy Verville.

AN is a media sponsor of Exhibit Columbus.