2021 Columbus University Design Fellows Bring Midwestern Architectural Research to Life | Characteristics


In Columbus, Indiana, an exhibit brings the city to life with site-specific facilities, community, engagement, and architecture. Pictured: Window treatment by Ang Li. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

For several months now, a small Midwestern town located “in the middle” of the country has taken the architectural world by storm. Since the Columbus exhibition opened last March, the exhibition team, designers and curatorial duo Mimi Zeiger and Iker Gil have created an immersive in-person experience brimming with works that embody the past, the present and future of Midwestern architecture, research, and discourse.

As a media partner, Archinect has conducted several interviews where we dive into the minds of the talented designers of the exhibition. We learned how they pushed the boundaries of site-specific architectural exhibits and how they evoke moments of reflection and pride for cities in the Midwest.

In preparation for the upcoming Columbus Exhibition event, Mapping the Environment: Conversations on Design Research, we had access to delve into the projects of this year’s seven university design research fellows. The Exhibit Columbus team said this new colloquium invites each fellow to discuss how their work “uses mapping as a tool / process to examine, reveal and represent the world around us” while responding to the theme general of the exhibition.

* Seven University Design Research Fellowships have been awarded to distinguished professors of architecture, landscape architecture and design at US universities who will create facilities that showcase their research. University design researchers were selected for their ability to tackle specific sets of issues relating to the future of the city and the Mississippi watershed region, such as durability and material reuse, l non-human habitat, watershed ecologies, emerging technologies and migration.

This year’s program of talented architects, designers and academic provocateurs reminds us that exciting architecture and speech don’t just happen in bustling cities and metropolises. In our previous conversation with Conservatives Iker Gil and Mimi Zeiger, they expressed the importance of shining the spotlight on “the middle.” Zeiger previously shared with Archinect, this year’s theme was also for “people outside of Columbus watching. Trying to figure out what the meat of architecture is given everything that’s going on right now.”

Below are project images and brief descriptions of each research project, along with links to full video presentations of each fellow. In each video, they discuss their work and their design process.

“Window dressing” by Ang Li. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Facade by Ang Li of Northeastern University

Window Dressing is a façade installation along the Washington Street façade of The Commons that invites the public to reflect on the cultural and architectural heritage of late Modernism. “(Listen to Li discuss his entire project here.)

“Tracing Our Mississippi” by Derek Hoeferlin. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Trace our Mississippi by Derek Hoeferlin of Washington University in St. Louis

“Tracing Our Mississippi will be a series of interactive installations and public programming on the site of the Columbus Pump House, on a terrace adjacent to the Flatrock River. […] Hoeferlin’s Columbus project and ongoing research beg the question: Is the Mississippi watershed really a watershed? “(Listen to Hoeferlin discuss his entire project here.)

“To the average species, with love” by Joyce Hwang. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Medium Species, With Love by Joyce Hwang of the University of Buffalo

“To Middle Species, with Love is designed to amplify the habitat conditions for urban wildlife in Columbus and bring increased visibility to their presence among us, as co-inhabitants of the built environment. These animals, that we Let’s call it “Middle Species” as opposed to “Flagship” species are common and entrenched in our communities: bats, birds, reptiles. ”(Listen to Hwang discuss his entire project here.)

“LaWaSo Ground” by Jei Jeeyea Kim with Dorian Bybee. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

LaWaSo Earth by Jei Jeeyea Kim of Indiana University

“LaWaSo Ground is a contemporary memorial and community ground of (La) nd, (Wa) ter and (So) it designed to help bridge some of the cultural dichotomies of our time through the lens of material culture. Located on the Lawn of the First Christian Church, the installation builds on an acknowledgment of the silenced and repressed voices of the past, and advocates for more diverse inclusion in the future. ”(Listen to Kim discuss her full project here. )

“Spectral” by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Meuller. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Spectral by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Meuller of Texas Tech University

“Spectral addresses the legacy of aerial activity over the city and speculates on a future in which urban spaces are aware of their engagement with aerial imaging technologies […] Spectral is designed both as a place of public gathering and a meditation on how and what is seen has changed from projected light (the movie theater) to increasingly ubiquitous aerial infrared imagery “(Listen to Kripa and Meuller discuss their project in detail here.)

“This appearance is _____” by Lola Sheppard and Mason White. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

This appearance is _____ by Lola Sheppard and Mason White of the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto

“This Appearance Is ____ invites citizens into the space of appearance and disappearance. […] The installation is a study of the ability to retreat and then join the larger world – a test made all the more poignant after more than a year of pandemic restrictions. (Listen to Sheppard and White discuss their project in detail here.)

“Calibrate” by Natalie Yates. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Calibrate by Natalie Yates of Ball State University

Calibrate is a device for recording and perceiving multiple scales of complex and accumulated environmental data collected across Columbus and surrounding areas. The facility records the cultivated ecological layers of a city rich in creation, creativity and innovation across multiple disparate time scales, from geological time to real-time sensing data. (Listen to Yates discuss his entire project here.)

Reflection in the middle

Aerial view of “Spectral” by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Meuller. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

After following the exhibition over the past few months, I have two thoughts left. First, the 2021 iteration of Exhibit Columbus allowed me to develop a new perspective of the Midwest. While it is easy to criticize the exhibits from afar, my only critical comment is that I wish the exhibit lasted longer so that I could see the installations in person. It is clear that each participating designer has given the city of Columbus a tangible gift that adds to the architectural landscape of the city. The exhibit offers a “call to action” for individuals to pay more attention to the architectural discourse unfolding in the Midwest region. Each installation and the ensuing group discussion act as a “call to be” with the architecture. Sit down with architecture and discover how this discipline impacts cities, large and small.

“New environments” prescribed a renewed reason for the design community to experience space, listen to speech, and develop enhanced perspectives.

My second takeaway focuses on the power of in situ exhibits. While the general public may view them as “exciting events” to visit on weekends or opportunities to capture photogenic projects, a program like Exhibit Columbus acts as an invitation to the public. This sense of inclusion was achieved thanks to the exhibition planning team and the skillful intentionality of curators Gil and Zeiger. They managed to give the community a series of works to get lost, meditate and applaud. “New environments” prescribed a renewed reason for the design community to experience space, listen to speech, and develop enhanced perspectives. All the while, he invites the general public to have the chance to see representations of the discourse on architecture which often takes place within the confines of academia and architectural elites.

Aerial view of “This Appearance Is _____” by Lola Sheppard and Mason White. Image © Hadley Fruits / Courtesy of Exhibit Columbus

Columbus Exhibition, its team of curators, designers and collaborators created an exhibition that not only went through a difficult year, but also laid a milestone for what can be done when the very nature of architectural discourse changes and is brought back into focus. question. If you’re in the Columbus area, be sure to visit the Columbus exhibit and Saturday’s Mapping the Middle: Design Research Conversations event on October 2 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the courtyard of the First Christian Church. .

The 2021 Exhibition will be presented by November 28, 2021. To learn more about “New Middles” and its programming, click here.


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