Walking Tours


Cummins Workplace Tour

Experience the workplaces of Cummins Inc. that have been woven into the architectural fabric of downtown Columbus since the company was founded in 1919. See how the Cummins story intertwines with the city’s design history through a long tradition of adaptive reuse. Step inside a lobby with an illuminated sculptural ceiling designed by Alexander Girard within a 19th century office building and linger in Eero Saarinen’s iconic Irwin Union Trust Bank, which has found new life as the Cummins Irwin Conference Center. Then see how Cummins building projects have shaped the city’s more recent architectural legacy at the Corporate Office Building, built by Roche-Dinkeloo around Cummins’ first engine factory (itself once a cereal mill), and the Cummins Commons Office Building, designed by Koetter Kim in 2009.


Family Legacy Tour

Trace the influences of business leaders, philanthropists, and architectural patrons from some of Columbus’ most prominent families. The contributions made by four generations of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Family to Columbus’ worldwide reputation for architecture and design define our path through downtown Columbus, starting at the Irwin family home (now known as the Inn at Irwin Gardens) and continuing through Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church, Henry Moore’s Large Arch, and Alexander Girard’s interior design at 301 Washington Street. Then tour Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s Republic Newspaper building, a lasting reminder of the Brown family of newspaper publishers’ special relationship with Myron Goldsmith. While getting an inside look at this National Historic Landmark, learn about the building’s new purpose as the home of Indiana University’s J. Irwin Miller Master of Architecture Program.


Created exclusively for the 2018 National Symposium, the Family Legacy Tour and Cummins Workplace Tour take you behind the scenes and set the stage for how Columbus secured its place as an architectural mecca and earned the nickname the “Athens of the Prairie.”


These rare experiences will be offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the symposium and will begin at the Columbus Area Visitors Center at 2:00 pm. ($40/person)


Bus Tours


Religion Made Modern Tour

Thursday, September 27

Columbus’ modern design history begins with Eliel and Eero Saarinen’s First Christian Church, completed in 1942. This tour goes off the beaten the path to trace the modern movement in Columbus through the religious institutions that came afterwards. After a first stop at the centrally located First Christian Church to see where it all began, go inside iconic churches by Eero Saarinen and Harry Weese as well as gems hidden in Columbus’ neighborhoods, including the Four Seasons Retirement Home Chapel by TAC.


Cummins Manufacturing Tour

Thursday, September 27

Cummins Inc.’s visionary design doesn’t stop with diesel engines: their buildings - from engine plants to health centers - are landmarks of architecture and landscape. During this tour guests will visit sites that are usually off-limits to visitors. At Engine Plant Gate 96, see the interaction of successive expansions by Harry Weese and Kevin Roche and trace the remnants of Dan Kiley’s landscape. Get a rare glimpse inside the Cummins Childhood Development Center, designed by Carlos Jiménez Studio in collaboration with CSO architects. At Harry Weese’s Cummins Technical Center, hear from a Cummins engineer. Get a sneak peak at Cummins’ past at the Historic Restoration Center, home to two Indianapolis 500 race cars designed by Harry Weese (yes, really!).


Connecting the Space Between: Landscapes Tour

Friday, September 28

Explore the landscape designs that enrich Columbus’ built environment. Begin the day in the classicizing atmosphere of the 19th century Roman-style garden at Irwin Gardens. Then the focus shifts to Dan Kiley’s extensive work in Columbus, including his design of the grounds at North Christian Church. Gain special access to a private landscape designed by Kiley in Columbus. Contrast these intimate, controlled environments with Michael Van Valkenburgh’s expansive Mill Race Park, a design that makes space for recreation while honoring the site’s ecology and its heritage as an industrial site.


Business and Leisure Tour

Friday, September 28

Meet at the Cummins Irwin Conference Center, otherwise known as Columbus’ first modern bank, Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Union Bank & Trust, before boarding the bus at Columbus Area Visitors Center to explore Columbus’ modern design for work and play. Venture out to East Columbus to see Paul Kennon’s striking State Street bank building, then the little town of Hope, distinguished by a Harry Weese bank and a Deborah Berke library. Back in Columbus, tour the Weese-designed bank known locally as the “Dead Horse” and Berke’s transcendent Creekview bank branch, which was the star of the “Columbus” movie. See how Weese designs for leisure at the Hamilton Ice Rink and take a well-deserved break at Weese’s Otter Creek clubhouse. Kick back with a drink overlooking the golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones.


Design for Education and Play: Columbus Schools Tour

Saturday, September 29

Columbus’ outstanding investment in good design began with its schools. Faced with growing post-war population, the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program was started to support the building of innovative schools by up-and-coming architects, sparking Columbus’ architectural renaissance. Get an inside look at the exuberant variety of mid-century approaches to school design, from the traditional classroom to the most experimental open plans. Highlights include Schmitt Elementary by Harry Weese (the first school built under the Cummins Foundation program in 1957), John Carl Warnecke’s McDowell School (now a National Historic Landmark), Gunnar Birkerts’ Lincoln Elementary (AIA Honor Award, 1970), the brutalist Southside Junior High by Eliot Noyes, and the colorful “gerbil tubes” of John Johansen’s innovative Smith Elementary School.


Fire Stations Tour

Saturday, September 29

Discover the playfulness of fire station design under the influence of Postmodern icon Robert Venturi. The first stop is at Fire Station #1, one of Columbus’ few surviving Art Deco buildings. Then to the centerpiece of the tour: completed in 1967, Fire Station # 4 is one of Venturi’s earliest building projects and a harbinger of his later style. Explore the station and enjoy refreshments with special guest TBD. Trace Venturi’s enduring influence at a fire station by regional architect William Burd in the 1980s. Round off the experience with a special stop at a little-visited Harry Weese project, designed to be a County Home for the Aged.


Special Events


Miller House and Garden Tour

Following a brief introductory video, participants will receive a 90-minute guided tour of the Miller House and Garden, created by architect Eero Saarinen, designer Alexander Girard, and landscape architect Dan Kiley. A hallmark of modern design, this residence is considered one of the most important mid-century modern homes in the country – often short-listed alongside The Glass House and The Farnsworth House.


NOTE: This tour must be booked through the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

Tours will run hourly throughout the week @ $25/person. Transportation provided.


Design Gallery Tour at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Wednesday, September 26

The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 11,000-square-foot Design Gallery is the largest collection gallery devoted to modern and contemporary design of any museum in the country. Join Shelley Selim, Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts, for a tour of the recently renovated gallery, now featuring a thematic reinterpretation that offers fresh insights into the versatile design process—from inspiration to production. A rotation of more than 150 new objects will be on display, many of which are recent acquisitions being shown for the first time. Newfields’ famed Miller House and Garden assumes a greater presence in the gallery with a fully immersive virtual reality experience. This joins several other new interactive spaces, including an 800-square-foot Design Lab where guests can design prototypes using analog and digital tools and try out some of the furniture on display.


Miller House and Garden Archives Tour at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Wednesday, September 26

The Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana, is one of the country’s most highly regarded mid-century Modernist residences. The Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard and landscape design by Daniel Urban Kiley. When Newfields acquired the home in 2009, its comprehensive records were transferred to the IMA Archives. Join Alba Fernandez-Keys, Head Librarian, and Lydia Spotts, Associate Archivist/Librarian, for a tour of the archives’ “greatest hits,” including original design drawings, floor plans, and color stories.

Documentary Screening and Q&A with Eric Saarinen

Thursday, September 27


The award-winning documentary, Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future explores the life and visionary work of Finnish-American modernist architectural giant Eero Saarinen. Best known for designing National Historic Landmarks such as St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch, North Christian Church and the Miller House in Columbus, and the General Motors Technical Center in Michigan. Following the screening, participate in a Q&A with Saarinen’s son, director of photography and co-producer Eric Saarinen, ASC. Eric will also preview his upcoming documentary project that explores the work of his grandfather, Eliel Saarinen.


Opening Night Party at the Upland Columbus Pump House

Thursday, September 27

A ticket to the Opening Night Party is included in 4-day and 3-day symposium packages. Individual tickets are available for purchase through the registration site ($75).