ISWE Brommie thinking it's a work of art :)
Columbus, Indiana that is.
ISWE recently had the good fortune to stop over for a couple of hours in Indiana's small-town architectural treasure trove located just about an hour south of Indianapolis along I-65. If arts and architecture were boxing, Columbus would be the flyweight, pound-for-pound US champ. In just this little spot (left), one can see I. M. Pei's Bartholomew County Library (brick building in background), Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church (below), English sculptor Henry Moore's "Large Arch" and the Irwin Home and Gardens.
Just a short bike ride from here, we were able to see: Eero Saarinen's (that's Eliel's son and designer of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis) Irwin Union Bank and Trust building; Kevin Roche's vine-covered Cummins Corporate Office Building and Columbus' deconstructivist SOM City Hall. Just a couple miles to the north, one can see Eero's really cool sci-fi-esque North Christian Church, although we didn't get to see it this trip :(
Let it be said that a lot of communities would be well advised to show a bit of the spirit of Columbus. There aren't many cities of this size in Indiana that can boast tourists from places like New York City as an absolutely routine occurrence on a Monday afternoon. Well done little Columbus, well done.
First Christian Church
Of the buildings near the "Large Arch", Eliel's First Christian Church is perhaps the most interesting. Built in 1942, it was one of the first churches in American to use a contemporary design. It's fun to imagine those building committee meetings. One one side, a bunch of conservative Hoosier farmers used to red brick and white clapboard buildings with steeples, on the other perhaps Cummins chief J. Irwin Miller himself, his Swedish Architect Saarinen and modern furniture designer Charles Eames all pitching what must have looked like something from a Robert Heinlein novel. Wow! Were we only church mice in '42, it would have been a heck of a show. Imagine the parishioners' reactions to those initial renderings. There must have been passing out in the aisles and exclamations of, "You want to build what?!"
As amazing as these structures are, something overshadowed them on this particular day; specifically, Zelcova serrata. While that may sound like the name of a radical Russian architect, it's not. It's a Japanese tree. Zelcova serrata line both sides of 5th Street in Columbus adjacent to the Irwin Gardnes... and on this hot, humid day, they were amazing.
The Brompton practically piloted itself down 5th Street probably five or ten times. One source lists Zelcova as excellent street trees, describing them as tolerant of heat, drought, and wind and excellent replacements for American Elm, and they are! On this muggy summer day, the climate in the tunnel beneath the Zelcova was totally cool and breezy. It had to be at least ten degrees cooler beneath them. Well done Zelcova trees, well done.
Brommie ready to go.
Eero, Eliel, ISWE and Zelcova--altogether, a wonderful couple of hours, all made possible by our Brompton in the boot. We would not have loaded a bike on a roof rack that day. We would not have attached one to the rear via a trailer hitch or Rube Goldberg buckle-on bicycle carrier contraption. It simply wouldn't have happened. No need. Brommie's always in the boot. Right there ready to go at a moment's notice... with plenty of room for grocery, shopping or book bags right there by his side. Well done Brommie, well done.
If you don't have a small wheel on hand, get one. Do, and someday while easing by the Eero or zipping under the Zelcova, you'll be very very glad you did.