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Cummins building blends in with Columbus by design

Author : Date : 2013-7-18 10:43:54

Cummins Inc.’s corporate office building covers three downtown city blocks and holds close to 800 employees, including the top-level executives of the multibillion-dollar global enterprise. However, in contrast to the typical corporate citadels — think Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis or General Motors Co. in Detroit — which project power through size and intimidation — Cummins’ base of power blends into its surroundings.

The white concrete pillars at the trellised entrance are covered by ivy. Its modernist glass facade beckons visitors inside. Its height, capped at two stories, fits in with the rest of the cityscape. A few yards from the headquarters’ main entrance, a quasi-public park beckons with benches, trees, a pond and fountains.

Cummins’ growth in the late 1970s prompted its leaders, including the late J. Irwin Miller, to pursue construction of a new corporate office in downtown Columbus.

The office needed to be big enough to hold 800 employees, but Miller and architect Kevin Roche, inspired by the needs of the post-industrial workforce, wanted to move away from the traditional large structures that projected power through height and the thickness of walls.

So instead of building a weighty high-rise, Roche decided to cap the structure at two floors to make sure it blended in with the other buildings in the city’s center.