Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Case for Focused Public Investment

If we want to see the benefits of focused public investment, we need not look further than neighboring Columbus,_Indiana.

In 1957 the leadership of the sleepy county seat of 39k made a fundamental commitment to being a “good town” when it accepted the offer and challenge of the Cummins Engine Foundation, which said it would pay an architect’s fee for any new school that was designed by someone from a select list of renowned and respected architects. The offer was later expanded to include a variety of public buildings.

As time passed the city’s focus on architecture and public art became infectious as other companies and church congregations decided to seek architects who would add to the community’s quality of design. Soon the city was attracting even more like minds as offers for free services poured in from aspiring architects who wanted to have their work displayed in the company of great artists. These actions perpetuated even more recognition and attention, as leading architects like Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Richard Meier, and I.M. Pei led the American Institute of Architects to rank Columbus sixth in a list that included Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC for architectural innovation and design. How often is Cleveland compared favorably to any of these destinations?


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