Peter Eisenman, Architect
400 North High Street, Columbus OH 43215
Visited May 1-2, 2012
This huge building perhaps looks best from the air. The gracefully curved shapes of the roof form an interesting composition. The Greater Columbus Convention Center actually uses this image as their logo ( although I would assume that few of the conventioneers realize how the logo relates to the building). At street level, the building is broken up into smaller forms with several entrances facing High Street, mimicking a traditional downtown streetscape with a series of buildings and storefronts (although these “storefronts” are mostly windowless). This I assume was to avoid a long blank facade with an expanse of empty unpopulated sidewalks.
I was in the building during a large convention with the entire convention hall floor being used and the meeting rooms filled with lectures and presentations. With the convention hotels being linked to the convention center by a pedestrian bridge to the south, and parking and a row of restaurants to the north, the vast majority ( meaning virtually all ) of pedestrians never go through the doors facing High Street. The High Street facade is a several block long pastel colored angled geometric folly. The building blocks are solid angled grids with projecting blocks organized on a slightly different angled grid. These solid windowless sections of facade are interspersed with a few sections with rows of doors and windows above. The window mullion grid also has sections skewed at slightly different angles. Even with the full convention going on, these rows of doors facing High Street stood mostly unused, available as fire exits.
On the interior, the main concourse is between the convention hall and the meeting rooms. (The windowless building blocks facing High Street are meeting rooms and rest rooms). The concourse has very high ceilings with occasional clerestory windows letting in light sporadically. This concourse has angled walls painted in large sections of various pastel colors. The effect looking down the entire concourse, with the sidewalls at slightly different angles and the light from above, is that of a narrow rainbow sherbet canyon.
The building is interesting, but I leave feeling that it was more interesting as an excercise on paper ( or on a computer screen). With a couple of hotels now being built across High Street, perhaps 20 years after the building opened, at least a few people will walk down the High Street sidewalk and actually use the rows of unopened doors.