architectural cinema ii: Columbus
It looks like 2017 might be shaping up to be a pretty good year for movies starring architecture.
I posted a few weeks ago about the Farnsworth House movie, and back in January, the movie Columbus directed by first timer, Kogonada (who has an interesting back story himself), opened to pretty rave reviews. The movie, starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson (plus Parker Posey!), focuses on a series of encounters between the two leads as they explore the town’s (Columbus, Indiana) architectural wonders.
Too vague? Sorry, I still need to see the movie. And with reviews like this one, you should probably see it too.
By all accounts the real star of the movie, is Columbus, Indiana, the Midwestern mecca of modern architecture. If you don’t know about Columbus and you love architecture, look it up immediately (or just keep reading). This tiny hamlet in a state more famous for cornfields and basketball than cutting edge design (I can say that because I grew up a Hoosier) maintains one of the most important collections of modern architecture in the WORLD. The AIA ranked the town as the 6th most important architectural city in the United States, right behind Washington D.C.
We can thank industrialist and philanthropist, J. Irwin Miller for the unprecedented architecture of Columbus. Beginning in the 1950s, Irwin, a Columbus native, decided to subsidize the town's public buildings with the specification that 'great architects' receive the commissions (he first commissioned Eliel Saarinen to build one of the earliest modern churches in the United States in the early 1940s). The city’s collection quickly grew to include buildings by both Saarinens, I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, Harry Weese, and Robert Venturi, just to name a few.
To many, the groundbreaking architecture of Columbus, a town of just 46,000 people, may seem improbable. But if you have ever seen the movie Hoosiers or even Rudy, you know that improbably wonderful things seem to happen in Indiana every day. And the Midwestern provenance of Columbus makes it that much more magical of a place, a place befitting of its often used moniker- "Athens of the Prairie."
This architectural magic should make for the perfect cinematic backdrop, and I really hope the movie does Columbus justice. I’ll let you know as soon as I see it.
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This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.