Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Discovering Columbus, Indiana

In every state there are certain town names you can count on finding: Lincoln, Salem, Paris, London, Columbus. But not every Columbus has the claim to fame that Columbus Indiana has.

This town of 40,000 an hour south of Indianapolis is a company town; Cummins Engine is headquartered there. The story of Cummins is unique in itself. Five generations ago a bank founder had a chauffer who loved to tinker with engines. The chauffer, who name was Cummins, invented the first diesel engine for vehicles. His boss bankrolled him, and together they started a fortune 500 company.

Time passed. Cummins grew. Mid 20th century Cummins established a foundation to pay the fee for credentialed architects to design any public building being built in the town. Soon Churches and businesses and people building their homes followed suit.

The result?

World renowned architecture, green spaces, public art. I M Pei designed the library, Don Hisaka the jail, Kevin Roche the Cummins headquarters, Isaac Hodgson the Courthouse. Well known architects are fond of designing a building in Columbus to be part of the scene where multiple buildings have been AIA design award winners.

I love what a forward thinking corporation can do for a town. I'd put this town and Kohler on the list of best towns of the summer trip.
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