Columbus, Indiana is home to some of modernism’s greatest works, including the IMA’s Eero Saarinen designed Miller House. Recently I had the privilege of venturing off the grounds of Miller House for a special tour of Columbus’ veritable treasure trove of architectural gems. It’s mecca for modernism.
I was moved by I.M. Pei‘s sleek lines. Seduced by Eames‘ furniture design. Amazed by Harry Weese‘s understanding of light. But in all this courtship, something unexpected happened. An unmistakable tug at my heart strings and a tummy full of butterflies. I fell madly in love with landscape architect Dan Kiley. Well, to be exact, I fell in love with his landscape architecting skills.
Kiley knew the landscape a structure sits on is just as important as the structure itself. It’s a balanced, complementing relationship. A gentle dance across a crowded floor. Swoon.
I wandered through Kiley’s shaded clean grid patterns, well-trimmed shrubs and meticulously placed trees. All were in linear harmony with the horizontal and vertical lines of the structures at their center.
I know what you’re thinking: “He’s so not your type!” Those who know me are aware “linear” and “well-trimmed” are rarely associated with my aesthetic approach. I’m more of an asymmetrical, scruffy and slightly overgrown kinda gal. So what was it about Kiley that stole my heart?
Mark Zelonis captured it in this post detailing the reverent experience he and Ed Blake (landscape architect for the IMA’s 100 Acres) shared while visiting the Miller House garden, designed by none other than my new beau, Dan.
Ed first witnessed the site decades ago while on a work assignment in Columbus. He was then only able to peek through the already tall arborvitae hedges guarding the property’s east side, but knew the place was indeed very special. After all, one of the 20th century’s masters of landscape design, Dan Kiley, had worked his magic here. For all of us in the field, this is a place for reverence.
Columbus is adorned with Kiley landscapes, both public and private. Perhaps the most cherished are the grounds surrounding North Christian Church, the last building architect Eero Saarinen designed before his death in 1961. It is the last of three buildings in Columbus that Saarinen and Kiley worked on together. The building is woven into the fabric of the site like a fine Girard textile. I was lost, and found there. Read the rest of this entry »