The designers selected to participate in Exhibit Columbus’s fourth edition, Public by Design, convened in late February to present their site-specific installation concepts to the greater Columbus community.
Held at The Commons, a community event space in the modernist architecture–abundant Indiana city’s downtown core, the program brought together the four 2022–2023 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients—announced last September, they are Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Studio Zewde, PORT, and Practice for Architecture Urbanism (PAU)—along with seven University Design Research Fellow (UDRF) cohorts and the High School Design Team to showcase their proposed designs. Also presenting was this cycle’s communications designer, Chris Grimley. Each installation will be on public view across downtown Columbus, including at four key partners sites, beginning August 25 through fall.
Unique to this cycle of Exhibit Columbus is a team of four Community Curators who worked alongside the exhibition’s six curatorial partners to select the Miller Prize winners to better involve diverse stakeholders from across Columbus in the early stages of the exhibition.
“The sense of collaboration and engagement between the participants and the Columbus community was palpable at this year’s design presentations,” Richard McCoy, executive director of Landmark Columbus Foundation told RECORD. “We are so proud that the Columbus community cares about Exhibit Columbus so deeply.”
“We all feel that these voices are vital in shaping the future of this city, and other cities,” added McCoy. “Exhibit Columbus has always been, but is becoming much more so, a tool for civic engagement that is needed right now.”
Below are the concepts from each 2022-23 Miller Prize recipient. Further information about the full exhibition lineup, including proposals from the UDRFellows and High School Design team, can be found here.
Designed by the public
Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO
Paired with Bartholomew County Public Library, Mexico City’s Tatiana Bilbao Estudio will introduce the interactive installation, Designed by the public, to the I.M. Pei–designed Library Plaza. Describing its intervention as an “ongoing participatory practice” created in collaboration with the Columbus community, the studio will provide a collection of objects and tools including furniture and equipment to bring the library’s program outdoors and encourage residents to “build their own ideas” through environmentally sustainable means.
Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO proposed design, Designed by the public. Image courtesy Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO
Echoes of the Hill
Harlem-based landscape architecture and public art practice Studio Zewde has partnered with Columbus’s Parks and Recreations department to bring an occupiable shelter dubbed Echoes of the Hill to the Michael Van Valkenburgh-designed Mill Race Park. A series of red frames will provide a means to reorient visitors with the park’s vantage points, “presenting a literal and metaphorical ‘frame’ on the pasts and presents of the land while invoking its future possibilities.” The bright forms will mirror the park’s hill to propose a new circular space for communal gathering in Festival Field.
Studio Zewde proposed design, Echoes of the Hill. Image courtesy Studio Zewde
The Plot Project
In collaboration with the Mill Race Center, a local hub for active seniors, Chicago- and Philadelphia–based landscape architecture and urban design studio PORT will oversee The Plot Project, a 1.5-acre rewilding effort. Subdivided in 12 zones separated by wildflowers and interspersed with gravel pathways and seating pavilions, an arc of geometric parcels will undergo a nine-month period of biodiversity experimentation that will include, among other activities, infusions of native grasses. “Riffing on the mid-century heritage and color palette of Columbus,” the work will invite both reflection and collective interaction.
PORT proposed design, The Plot Project. Image courtesy PORT
New York-based PAU, led by Vishaan Chakrabarti and Ruchika Modi, has teamed with the city to adorn The Commons with a large canopy titled Interoculus. For the suspended structure that will make use of the city’s existing streetlights, PAU drew design inspiration from the “local carnival vernacular” and ice cream parlors to wood-framed domed dwellings of local Indigenous tribes and Rome’s famed Pantheon. The work will direct viewers to “revel in the city’s historic downtown and advocate for permanent urban public space” that promotes and evokes wide-ranging social exchange.
PAU proposed design, Interoculus. Image courtesy PAU