Architecture buffs listen up! The greatest American city for architecture is not Chicago or New York, but, wait for it...Columbus, Indiana.

Indiana? You may ask. There is more to the Hoosier State than meets the eye. Columbus may be tiny, but its small size belies its incredible culture. In some circles, this small town is famous for its modernist architecture and public art.

Columbus Indiana At a Glance Rent Jungle Infographic

An Architecture Hotspot

With a population of about 44,000, Columbus is the twentieth biggest city in the state of Indiana. However, their notable art initiatives have put this small town on the map. The Cummins Foundation, created by the CEO of a diesel engine manufacturer headquartered in Columbus, created a program that pays world class architects to design revolutionary new buildings for the town. The program was initially intended to redesign the local public schools, but the foundation received such positive feedback that they expanded the program to include other non-profit and civic organizations.

Though the central Indiana town dates back to the 1820s, Columbus is defined by its ground-breaking modern architecture. Columbus Indiana is home to an array of modern buildings designed by world renowned architects such as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli, and Richard Meier. Seven of these buildings have been classified as National Historic Landmarks, and more than sixty others are recognized as extraordinary examples of modern architecture.

A notable building is the Irwin National Bank, which was built in 1954. The bank was designed to subvert traditional bank architecture. Until this time, banks were designed in a neoclassical style, meant to be imposing, with grandiose stone and brick facades and bars separating bank tellers from customers. In contrast, Eero Saarinen designed the Irwin National Bank with glass and steel to create a light, airy space that welcomes customers.This radical design philosophy completely changed the way banks were designed moving forward.

Another important building in Columbus is the First Baptist Church. Designed by Harry Weese in 1965, this minimalist church has no windows and a dramatically pointed roof. Weese's design is uniquely beautiful for a religious structure.

I.M. Pei, the world famous architect best known for creating the iconic glass pyramid at La Louvre, was commissioned to design the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in Columbus. Its red brick, concrete details, and spacious library plaza makes it a celebrated landmark in town.

A Small but Thriving Town

The median household income in Columbus Indiana is $54,447 per year, slightly above the annual median household income of Indiana as a whole, which is $50,532.

The majority of jobs in Columbus come from Cummins Inc., the diesel engine manufacturer behind the town's public art and architecture foundation. Besides Cummins, there are numerous other manufacturing jobs, as well as many types of research positions at the Infotech Park downtown.

Life in this architectural wonderland won't break the bank. As of October 2017, the average rent for an apartment in Columbus Indiana is $929 per month. One-bedroom apartments in Columbus rent for $874 per month on average and two-bedroom apartments cost $930 per month on average. Rental prices in Columbus have actually dropped slightly, with the average rent in the city going down 4.84% in the past year.

This is in line with rent trends for Indiana as a whole, where the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $910 per month, and a two-bedroom apartment goes for $923 per month on average.

In addition to its outstanding modern architecture, Columbus has also received recognition for its scenery. In 2006, the town received first prize in the America in Bloom competition. America in Bloom honored Columbus for its exceptional landscaping and community investment towards beautification. Check out Columbus in the springtime to see the flowers at their peak.

Columbus in the Spotlight

This small Midwest town has been thrust onto the national stage this year by the indie film, Columbus, which is set in the town. The movie, directed by Kogonada and starring John Cho, is a love letter to the town's architecture. John Cho plays the son of a notable architecture professor who comes to Columbus for the first time when his father becomes ill. Through a newfound friendship with a local girl, and a meditative exploration of the town's minimalist architecture, Cho's character comes to terms with his turbulent relationship with his father. The movie has received critical acclaim and is bringing attention to this hidden midwestern gem.

Watch the film for a taste of this special town, or plan a trip to Indiana to explore these architectural masterpieces in person. If you think Columbus is the perfect place for you, check out our rental listings to find a home in this underrated Midwestern city.

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