Exhibit Columbus to explore middle America and beyond

The 2020-2021 Exhibit Columbus theme and its J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients line-up have just been revealed, placing the focus on the ‘middle city' during the upcoming annual Indiana architecture event

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement
Dream the Combine: Clearing, Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN, 2017.
(Image credit: Caylon Hackwith)

Indiana's annual celebration of architecture, art, design and community, Exhibit Columbus, has announced its 2020-2021 theme and key participants. In preparation for the event's launch this autumn, co-curators Iker Gil and Mimi Zeiger have set the question ‘New Middles: From Main Street To Megalopolis, What Is The Future of The Middle City?', and their exciting line-up includes five J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients, whose studios will contribute site-specific installations throughout the city centre. 

This year's prize winners include a selection of dynamic, US-based and international practices: Dream the Combine from Minneapolis, USA, ecosistema urbano from Miami and Madrid, Spain, Future Firm from Chicago, USA, Olalekan Jeyifous from Brooklyn, USA and Sam Jacob Studio from London, UK. 

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement dream the combine

Dream the Combine: Hide And Seek, Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, 2018. 

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

The winners ‘have been selected for their commitment to the transformative power that architecture, art, and design have to improve people’s lives and make cities better places to live,' explain the organisers. Meanwhile, ‘Columbus, Indiana, best known as a mid-century modernist destination, is an archetypal middle city – a middle amongst middles with an impressive history of socially-minded architecture designed to foster civic life.'

This idea of Midwest, mid-sized, or middle America is what the contributors are called upon to explore through a series of outdoor designs as well as a symposium, where the five Miller Prize recipients will be featured participants. In addition to the five highlighted installations, the displays will also include eleven other projects at varying scales, such as seven University Design Research Fellowships' offerings, and two inaugural Photography Fellows' presence, all exploring Columbus' civic space.

Conceived to ‘activate' downtown Columbus for a period of three months, this cultural event, in a series originally launched in 2016, has fast become a staple in the worldwide architecture calendar, as well as a fascinating addition to local and global debates on architecture, urban design, American cities – and beyond. 

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement 2021

Future Firm: Rebel Garages, Chicago, IL. In progress

(Image credit: press)

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement future firm

Future Firm: Where the Borough Ends, Storefront for Art & Architecture, 2016

(Image credit: press)

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement olalekan jeyifous

Olalekan Jeyifous: Protest!, Cleveland, OH, 2018.

(Image credit: Bob Perkoski)

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement use

Olalekan Jeyifous: Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies, Alexandria, VA Waterfront Park, 2020.

(Image credit: Laura Hatcher)

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement sam jacob

Sam Jacob Studio: Fragmented Follies, Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London, 2019.

(Image credit: Sam Jacob Studio)

Exhibit Columbus theme announcement exhibition

Sam Jacob Studio: Ivy Street, London, In progress.

(Image credit: Sam Jacob Studio)


Eco-boulevard, Madrid, Spain, 2007-10.

(Image credit: Ecosistema Urbano)

Energy Carousel

Energy Carousel, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2010-12.

(Image credit: Ecosistema Urbano)



Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).