The city of Columbus, in Ohio, sits comfortably between the more popular state of Pennsylvania and the Indianapolis 500-famed star of Indiana. Yet for architects and spatial designers alike, it is the capital city of Ohio, that shines like a jewel in the prairie region. Popularly nicknamed the ‘Arch City’, given the presence of many prominently recognized buildings with arches, Columbus is a sister city of Genoa in Italy, Seville in Spain, and Ahmedabad in India, amongst others.

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Cityscape of Columbus in Ohio, USA_©shawrconsulting.com

Home to the prestigious Ohio State University, the city of Columbus was officially incorporated in 1816. It houses some of the most beautiful American churches and a multitude of famous general and biographical museums. Many performing art institutions and galleries, with an architectural style to marvel at, are also established within the city. 

The range of the architectural style varies in great depth, such as the Ohio Statehouse and the Ohio Judicial Centre are political landmarks in the town, which flaunts a neoclassical order, whilst the Greater Columbus Convention Centre depicts a deconstructive style of architecture. 

In no particular order of importance, below are mentioned 15 places a traveling architect would absolutely love to visit in Columbus, Ohio.

The Prominent Architectural Landmarks of Columbus.

1. Ohio Statehouse

The state Capitol building and seat of governance for the state government, the Ohio statehouse started its journey in 1839 and was finally ready in 1861, changing design interpretations and styles nearly 5 times, with five architects supervising the structure till its completion. 

Largely influenced by the Greek style of architecture, the statehouse is specifically built and cited for its Greek Revival style, signifying grandeur and a connection with tradition and history, much like the Rotunda, in Virginia. The interiors feature The Grand Stair Hall and the Rotunda both of which are eagerly viewed and photographed by more than 500,000 visitors every year.

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The Greek Revival styled Ohio Statehouse._©K. Karen

2. Rhodes State Office Tower

Housing a little more than 4000 employees, the Rhodes State Office Tower (officially named after Ohio’s longest-serving governor, James A. Rhodes as the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower) is proud, the tallest building in Columbus and the 5th tallest skyscraper in Ohio. From an architectural point of view, the building is either hated or loved, with no in-betweens. 

Often touted as being lifeless and bland, this unusually shaped is also praised by some architects as borrowing inspiration from brutalism while being minimal, following the highly debated principles of the form following the function.

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Rhodes State Office Tower._©W.C.John.

3. LeVeque Tower

Constructed in 1927, during the sunrise years of the skyscraper movement in America, the LeVeque Tower stood as the tallest building in Columbus until it was surpassed by the Rhodes State Office Tower in 1974. Designed by Micheal C. Crane, the building’s peculiar design style takes after Byzantine architecture and is argued to be built in the Art Moderne style, a variant of the Art Deco movement. 

An octagonal bartizan, a dome displaying heraldic imagery, and a specially designed top to incorporate the landing of zeppelins make the structure a sight to behold and study. In fact, the tower was very well received, with American historian Albert Hart likening it to the Carcassonne and the Architectural Forum calling it “splendid”. 

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LeVeque Tower_©columbusofficeproperties.com

Here are Famous Urban Design Landmarks.

4. Main Street Bridge

Reportedly being one of its kind in North America makes this a must-visit place for architects. One must also be informed that it is one of the only 5 inclined superstructures in the world. It spans a distance of 700 feet or 210 meters over the Scioto River and cost about $160 million to build. 

The bridge sports a unique inclined single-rib-tied arch design proposed by a design technology professor at Harvard, Spiro Pollalis. The distinctiveness of the bridge, which has been termed as ‘a balcony for the city’, garnered several prestigious awards including the National Steel Bridge Alliance’s 2012 Prize Bridge Award and the Grand Award awarded by American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio in 2011.

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An aerial photograph of the Main Street Bridge over the Scioto River._©K. Cory.

5. Discovery Bridge

Reportedly named after Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas, the bridge sits on the Scioto River, spanning a length of roughly 700 feet. The 100 feet wide deck features a six-lane driveway, and two sidewalks, supported by six graceful arches. Four arched balconies protrude from the deck, giving space for pedestrians to view the river and the city skyline. 

The Discovery Bridge, popularly called the Broad Street Bridge by residents, has been built on the location of a prior bridge that unexpectedly collapsed, injuring four people and killing one of them. The current bridge was built with a lot of design inputs coming from the residents in order to ensure a factor of safety and approval from the city.

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Discovery Bridge, influenced by Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas_©MJ.

Some Famous Educational Architectural Pieces of Interest.

6. Ohio State University

Founded in 1870, this 150 years old prestigious institution is one of the best public universities in the United States. The university doesn’t have one consistent design style or thought lingering from an Italianate Renaissance Revival style to a deconstructivist architecture style, a traveling architect is able to spend hours on end studying and taking in inspiration from the different schools of design.

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The entrance to the Ohio State University._©M.Susan

7. Pontificia College Josephinum

The 81-year old building, designed by Dutch architect Frank Ludewig in a style reflecting the sacred religious architecture of Europe makes this private college a must-visit place. Owing to its reputation of being the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy, the structure has been designed to keep students and visitors alike in awe of the marvels of religious architecture, bringing man in touch with his divine creator through means of architecture.

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The Dutch designed Pontificia College Jesephinum._©L. Dani.

8. Capital University Law School

Voted as one of the best Private Law Schools in 2009, in the United States, this piece of splendid architecture was established in 1903. The neoclassical structure establishes itself as one of importance, echoing a feeling of grandeur and majesty and justice.

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The neoclassical Capital University law School._©capital.edu

9. Columbus Metropolitan Library

The Columbus Metropolitan Library was founded as early as 1901 and has grown to become one of the largest public library systems in the United States. The building was designed by Albert Randolph Ross of New York and is constructed in a Beaux-Arts style of design thought, with white marble on a grey granite base. Friezes on the west facade pay homage to classical poets Virgil and Homer. 

The interior is typical of neoclassical interiors with coffered ceilings and barrel vaults. A simple axial plan owing to its site placed the library in a very comfortable position symmetrically. 

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The Columbus Metropolitan Library in the snow._©Nyttend.

The Famous Religious Architectural Places in Columbus.

10. Broad Street United Methodist Church

This Gothic Revival sacred architectural structure is placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1885, the structure was originally constructed in green serpentine stone but later renovations under Rogers Krajnak Architects replaced the stone with synthetic stone that still preserves its dark moss green color.

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Broad Street United Methodist Church clicked in autumn._©K.Rogers.

11. Saint Margaret of Cortona

Saint Margaret of Cortona is a prominent Catholic faith-based church established for the Italian-American communities of Columbus. Unlike other Catholic architectural styles devoted to Gothic and neoclassical amongst others, Saint Margaret of Cortona is built in a modernist architectural style which is, to say the least, also very distinct from the other churches in Columbus. The church is constructed primarily in limestone and was built by Italian architect Pietro Belluschi.

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The interiors of the Saint Margaret of Cortona church feel similar to the Church of Light by Tadao Ando._©Y. Brad

12. St. Joseph Cathedral

Another piece of sacred architecture, the St. Joseph Cathedral was built in 1878 and houses worshippers of the catholic faith. The Gothic Revival style of architecture (similar to the United Methodist Church) was constructed in ashlar stone that was quarried from nearby counties of Licking and Fairfield. Two towers, one on the southwest and the other on the southeast, oddly remain unfinished and have been so since the conception of the construction. 

Recent renovations have also not attempted to finish the work perhaps as an ode to the sacred history of the church. 

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Interiors of St. Joseph Cathedral showing the vaulted ceilings._©W. Derek

Some Famous Cultural Architecture in Columbus.

13. The Ohio Theatre

The Ohio Theatre was saved from being demolished in a fire in 1969 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, being declared as one of the nation’s finest surviving grand theaters. Built by noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb, the building takes after a Spanish Baroque architectural style. 

Sitting on a street with mostly modernist and neoclassical buildings the theater is hard to miss and one that any traveling architect will want to visit, maybe even more than once. Originally proposed as a movie palace the theatre now houses the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Columbus, BalletMet, and the Broadway Series.

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The breathtaking auditorium of the Ohio Theater._©CAPA

14. Lincoln Theater

The Lincoln Theater is very distinct from other theaters built in the United States. It is also very different from structures built in the vicinity of Columbus. Opened in 1928, the theater is built in an Egyptian Revival Architectural style, which was needed to suit the African-American community of performing artists in Columbus. It was built by Carl Anderson and was either predominantly closed or under continuous renovations until recent protests and an interior overhaul finally opened it to the public in 2009. 

Originally a movie theatre, it is now home to the Columbus Jazz Arts Group and the Columbus Gay Men’s Choir. Being an exotic building in its architectural style, the theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

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The Egyptian Revival styled Lincoln Theater._©CAPA

15. Columbus Museum of Arts

Richards, McCarty, and Bulford, preeminent architects in Columbus were commissioned to build the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts; today, known as the Columbus Museum of Arts or CoMA. Built in 1931, the structure follows a Second Renaissance Revival Style which drew inspiration from various classical modes but was not exactly either Greek Revival or Gothic Revival, though close similarities existed. 

The structure, visited by 200,000 people annually, is two stories high and set upon a concrete foundation with walls made of limestone and concrete. Added recently as an expansion of the museum, the Walter Wing is built on the right side of the main building. It is constructed in pre-patinated copper addressing the timeless character of the structure. 

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Columbus Museum of Arts._©Indrian

References

  1. Unknown. Cityscape of Columbus in Ohio, USA. Available at: shawhrconsulting.com (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  2. K.Karen. (2021). The Greek Revival styled Ohio Statehouse. Available at: https://woub.org/2021/01/11/talk-of-armed-march-at-statehouse-taken-seriously/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  3. W.C. John. (2013) Rhodes State Office Tower. Available at: http://www.skyscrapercenter.com/building/rhodes-state-office-tower/9102/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  4. Unknown. LeVeque Tower. Available at: https://www.columbusofficeproperties.com/property/50-w-broad-street-leveque-tower/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  5. K. Cory. (2018). An aerial photograph of the Main Street Bridge over the Scioto River. Available at: http://corykleinphotography.com/main-street-bridge-into-columbus-ohio-drone-photography/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  6. MJ. (2020). Discovery Bridge, influenced by Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Bridge_(Columbus,_Ohio)#/media/File:Discovery_Bridge,_Columbus,_Ohio_05.jpg (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  7. M. Susan. (2019). The entrance to the Ohio State University. Available at: https://get.sucks/evoke/news/ohio-state-university-tried-to-trademark-the-heres-what-happened/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  8. L. Dani (2013). The Dutch designed Pontificia College Jesephinum. Available at: http://www.visualohio.com/2013/03/pontifical-college-josephinum.html (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  9. Unknown. The neoclassical Capital University law School. Available at: https://www.capital.edu/capital-pride/ (Accessed: 7 April 2021)
  10. Nyttend. (2012). The Columbus Metropolitan Library in the snow. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Columbus_Metropolitan_Library_in_winter.jpg (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
  11. K. Rogers (2013). Broad Street United Methodist Church clicked in autumn. Available at: http://rogerskrajnak.com/worship/2012/001-North-Broadway-UMC-Sanctuary-Renovation.htm (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
  12. Y. Brad (2013). The interiors of the Saint Margaret of Cortona church feel similar to the Church of Light by Tadao Ando. Available at: https://blyphotography.com/st-margaret-of-cortona-columbus-athenaeum/ (Accessed: 8April 2021)
  13. W. Derek (2020). Interiors of St. Joseph Cathedral showing the vaulted ceilings. Available at: https://www.columbusmonthly.com/story/lifestyle/2020/08/17/best-of-columbus-weddings-winner-st-joseph-cathedral/115191924/ (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
  14. CAPA. The breathtaking auditorium of the Ohio Theater. Available at: https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
  15. CAPA. The Egyptian Revival styled Lincoln Theater. Available at: https://www.capa.com/venues/detail/ohio-theatre (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
  16. Indrian (2005). Columbus Museum of Arts. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Museum_of_Art#/media/File:Columbus_Museum_of_Art.jpg (Accessed: 8 April 2021)
Author

Adriel is a spatial designer who believes writing about design is just as important as the design itself. He believes that architecture and design are instruments of human expression which ought to be unfolded to enable a deeper connection with our surroundings.

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