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First Christian Church (1942) by Hadley Fruits
First Christian Church (1942) by Hadley Fruits

Attention Modernist Architecture Lovers: Visit Columbus, Indiana

First Christian Church (1942) by Hadley Fruits
First Christian Church (1942) by Hadley Fruits

If you want to see architectural gems by world-famous Modernist designers, the 44,000-person city of Columbus, Indiana might be your best bet. The unassuming Midwestern town has an incredible number of buildings by celebrated designers like I.M. Pei and Eero Saarinen, as Co.Design reports.

The city has more than 80 buildings, landscapes, and pieces of public art by world-famous architects and artists, with seven buildings classified as National Historic Landmarks, according to Exhibit Columbus, an arts festival designed to showcase the town’s architectural gems.

Much of this design heritage is due to the endeavors of Joseph Miller, an industrialist whose family founded the Cummins Corporation, a manufacturer of engines and power generators. In 1954, as chairman of the company, he founded a corporate foundation that has supported public architecture ever since. Miller’s goal was to turn Columbus into a town that could attract the best and brightest employees, starting with making sure that it had beautiful schools. In 1957, the foundation began offering grants to pay for architecture fees associated with buildings schools. Later, the foundation began offering grants for all public buildings.

Bartholomew County Public Library (1971). Photo by Hadley Fruits.

Asa result, Columbus was able to commission award-winning, world-renowned designers like Robert Venturi and John Rauch, who built a firehouse; Richard Meier, who built an elementary school; and Robert A.M. Stern, who designed a county hospital expansion. (The full list of grant winners is on the Cummins website [PDF].) Other notable mid-century buildings in town were designed by Eliel Saarinen (with furniture by Charles Eames), his son Eero Saarinen, and I.M. Pei.

“The influence of architecture with which we are surrounded in our youth affects our lives, our standards, our tastes when we are grown, just as the influence of the parents and teachers with which we are surrounded in our youth affects us as adults,” Miller, who died in 2004, once explained of his passion for good public design.

Exhibit Columbus, in its inaugural year, hopes to invigorate interest in great architecture and design in the city by awarding grants to artists to design and install temporary installations inspired by one of the historic buildings in Columbus.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy Landmark Columbus.

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Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
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Step Inside This Stunning, Nature-Inspired Art Gallery in Tulum, Mexico
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

Upon closer inspection, this building in Tulum, Mexico, doesn’t seem like a suitable place to house an art exhibit. Everything that makes it so visually striking—its curved walls, uneven floors, and lack of drab, white backgrounds—also makes it a challenge for curators.

But none of these factors deterred Santiago Rumney Guggenheim—the great-grandson of the late famed art collector and heiress Peggy Guggenheim—from christening the space an art gallery. And thus, IK LAB was born.

“We want to trigger the creative minds of artists to create for a completely different environment,” Rumney Guggenheim, the gallery’s director, tells Artsy. “We are challenging the artists to make work for a space that doesn’t have straight walls or floors—we don’t even have walls really, it’s more like shapes coming out of the floor. And the floor is hardly a floor.”

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

IK LAB was brought to life by Rumney Guggenheim and Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, the founder of luxury resort Azulik. The two properties, which have a similar style of architecture, share a site near the Caribbean coast. IK LAB may be unconventional, but it certainly makes a statement. Its ceiling is composed of diagonal slats resembling the veins of a leaf, and a wavy wooden texture breaks up the monotony of concrete floors. Entry to the gallery is gained through a 13-foot-high glass door that’s shaped a little like a hobbit hole.

The gallery was also designed to be eco-conscious. The building is propped up on stilts, which not only lets wildlife pass underneath, but also gives guests a view overlooking the forest canopy. Many of the materials have been sourced from local jungles. Gallery organizers say the building is designed to induce a “meditative state,” and visitors are asked to go barefoot to foster a more sensory experience. (Be careful, though—you wouldn't want to trip on the uneven floor.)

The gallery's first exhibition, "Alignments," features the suspended sculptures of Artur Lescher, the perception-challenging works of Margo Trushina, and the geometrical pendulums of Tatiana Trouvé. One piece by Trouvé features 250 pendulums suspended from the gallery's domed ceiling. If you want to see this exhibit, be sure to get there before it ends in September.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Engineers Have Figured Out How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Withstands Earthquakes
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iStock

Builders had barely finished the second floor of the Tower of Pisa when the structure started to tilt. Despite foundational issues, the project was completed, and eight centuries and at least four major earthquakes later, the precarious landmark remains standing. Now, a team of engineers from the University of Bristol and other institutions claims to have finally solved the mystery behind its endurance.

Pisa is located between the Arno and Serchio rivers, and the city's iconic tower was built on soft ground consisting largely of clay, shells, and fine sand. The unstable foundation meant the tower had been sinking little by little until 2008, when construction workers removed 70 metric tons of soil to stabilize the site. Today it leans at a 4-degree angle—about 13 feet past perfectly vertical.

Now researchers say that the dirt responsible for the tower's lean also played a vital role in its survival. Their study, which will be presented at this year's European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Greece, shows that the combination of the tall, stiff tower with the soft soil produced an effect known as dynamic soil-structure interaction, or DSSI. During an earthquake, the tower doesn't move and shake with the earth the same way it would with a firmer, more stable foundation. According to the engineers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the world's best example of the effects of DSSI.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," study co-author George Mylonakis said in a statement.

The tower's earthquake-proof foundation was an accident, but engineers are interested in intentionally incorporating the principles of DSSI into their structures—as long as they can keep them upright at the same time.

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