This unique city has long been on my photo bucket list. A modernist architecture enclave, this city has designs by some of the most well-known architects of the era – I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, among others.

Here’s one article explaining a bit more about the history of this city and why there’s so much great architecture here. I’m going to stick to the photos, for the most part.

I was lucky enough to have R.S. Chicago Photography Classes ask me to lead a weekend workshop here in mid-July. I’ve finally managed to get through all the edits! Read on for a look at what we saw.

Crump Theater

An art deco gem that’s currently undergoing some major restorations thanks to a really dedicated team of volunteers. We got into town pretty late Friday night, around midnight, and thought we’d drive by to see if the sign was illuminated. We absolutely lucked out because it came on about 2 minutes after we pulled up. The manager of the theater was also kind enough to give us a tour inside and share some of its interesting history. She also let us bring back the whole group the following morning, so very kind of her!

It’s the oldest theater in Indiana, 134 years, and has had many styles of architectural influence over the years. Happy to see the art deco has remained predominant.

Here’s a look at that incredible neon sign and some fun with intentional camera movement.

Now for some details inside.

The Commons | Cesar Pelli

I only managed one shot I was okay with from here. A mix of architecture + nature, reflections, and geometry in this one.

Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans | Thompson and Rose Architects

Great texture on the pillars that make up this memorial. On the smooth surface of the pillars the veterans’ names, letters, and diary entries are etched.

A mix of black & white and color takes here because I just felt like each worked better one way or the other.

Columbus City Hall | Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

This was my favorite location of the weekend. Always a sucker for a curvy glass wall. If you get really close you get fascinating reflections so we all spent quite a bit of time playing around here.

We ended up visiting both Saturday and Sunday under very different weather conditions – bright, sunny, a few clouds and then wildfire smoke moved in. Just checkout how different of a mood you get from just this change.

Here are a few more from the sunny, clear day. I know these are very similar but can’t decide if I like this panel in the center or free of it. So, you get both ;)

Had to do something with the brick cantilevered wall situation (or for the architects out there, no doubt there’s a much more technical explanation of this, I apologize for my lack of vocabulary here).

Now, for a few from the wildfire-filled skies day. Also, saw some compositions I didn’t see on my first visit. Just a reminder to go back to the same place numerous times – you see different things, the weather and light changes the mood.

I’ll end with another similar composition yet different weather conditions. In some instances (the first pair I shared) I like the vibrant blue and fun of the clouds but in many, I actually prefer this soft, subdued light and cloud-free skies to simplify the surroundings and let the focus be on the architecture.

Also, on the revisit here I come up with a better composition. Slight adjustment in angle but it just flows better.

Cleo Rogers Memorial Library | I.M. Pei

Mostly focused on the staircase in here. Well, because I can’t seem to not love a good staircase anywhere.

“Large Arch” | Henry Moore

Just outside the library is this sculpture. Another subject matter I can’t seem to not photograph. Though, this one was tough!

St Peter’s Lutheran Church | Gunnar Birkert

Love the curves in here, especially the ceiling.

A much more commercial take on this part of the church than I usually share here. But I like the leading lines of the curvy pews.

I found the exterior very difficult to photograph but here are a few takes.

North Christian Church | Eero Saarinen

I was so disappointed to learn the church has been closed for a few years and we couldn’t get access to the interiors, they look pretty amazing. So, here are a few takes on the exteriors. Enjoy the indecision on color vs BW.

Fire Station 1 | Leighton Bowers

Another art deco gem. There are also, oddly, a lot of fire stations here. All very interesting designs. Again, color & BW. This time just because I like both equally as much.

AT&T Switching Station |  Paul Kennon of Caudill Rowlett Scott

A frame within a frame within a frame – the AT&T Switching Station framing the First Presbyterian Church across the street.

They were replacing the glass on here when we were in town. Much needed as it was looking pretty dull. Whatever they’re replacing it with is super reflective which is really fun. Plus, there are these colorful tube things. Absolutely no clue what these actually are or what their function is. But they make for a nice pop of color.


Just a random shadow on a building, the texture of the peeling paint on the railing, and the late afternoon sun cathing my attention.

Robert N. Stewart Bridge | Jean Muller

The first cable-stayed bridge of its kind in North America. The red makes for a fun addition, especially against a bright blue sky.

And some random ICM.

That wrapped up day one! With the exception of including the second day shots of City Hall. Onto day 2 where that wildfire lighting is going to make things look quite different.

Cummins Irwin Office Building | Eero Saarinen

Playing with shadows, reflections, and geometry here.

Fire Station 3 | Wiliam Burd

Love the curves and red here. But can’t say I love my shots. Here’s the best of what I managed.

First Baptist Church | Harry Weese

Someone from the church was kind enough to give our group a really nice tour of the church. Everyone in Columbus was really generous about sharing their knowledge about the city’s architecture. You can definitely feel the pride they have in their city and its interesting history.

Here are few shots of the church.

Miller Race Park | Michael van Valkenburgh Associates

This was our second to last stop of the workshop weekend (the city hall revisit was the actual last). I hate to end on this note given I thought the city was pretty amazing but this park is kind of in disrepair, it was redesigned in the 80s and it kind of feels like it hasn’t been touched since then. Here’s the only shot I made there.

If you’re into architecture I’d definitely recommend a visit to Columbus. There are a number of other notable locations we didn’t photograph and the city as a whole is really charming.



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