Cummins can say more with downtown building

Keywords Opinion

I’ve viewed the images for Cummins’ new distribution center on the former Market Square Arena site, I’ve read the praise of the design by our mayor and fellow architectural friends of mine Will Marquez and Mark Beebe, and I have a suggestion: Cummins should let the building convey more about the company than its commitment to sustainability.

I have admired Cummins’ significant history of hiring world leaders in design for major new buildings in Columbus, Indiana. Cummins has helped make the world aware of Indiana as an architectural mecca.

But Cummins should demand more of its newest signature building.

Cummins has the power to enhance the Indianapolis skyline, and yet the renderings look like projects that we in architecture have viewed for the last 10 to 20 years by sustainable leaders like HOK, Will McDonough and even recently Zaha Hadid, just to drop a few names. What we see so far has been done numerous times in significantly more dramatic fashion.

Cummins’ images show a texture-less, monotone cubic glass “blob building” form covered in green, random, “natural” landscaping.

Having studied architecture in Cincinnati, home of Procter & Gamble, I witnessed the corporate headquarters create vast formal green “civic/public” lawns that quickly displayed “keep off the grass” signs. I worry that the green civic/public spaces shown have no public activities conveyed and will discourage the inclusion of public interaction.

Cummins’ website discusses its four departments and focus areas and its worldwide contributions to engine development. Why does this building not reflect this diversity and influence, and the uniqueness of Cummins’ employees, departments or products? The design appears to be a composition of identical glass cubes plugged into a matrix.

As an architect, I know the design evolves; it is my hope that the design can evolve to reflect more color, forms and activated landscapes that both Cummins’ employees and Indianapolis’ citizens will all be in awe of and benefit from.

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Thaddeus S. Lupton, Beyond Architecture

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