Tunnel vision is sometimes defined as “single-minded concentration on one objective.”
And when it comes to a team of high school designers who have been working on their Exhibit Columbus project for about a year, that definition is extremely applicable.
C4 Architecture and Construction Instructor Darin Johnson said that work on the team’s installation, entitled “Tunnel Vision,” began in August of 2020, though the “physical build” didn’t begin until this past spring.
About 95% of the project is done. The hope is for Force Construction to move the installation this coming week. Design team leader and Columbus East graduate Chase Jones said that the installation will be placed at Central Middle School, on Fifth Street near CSA Lincoln.
While the team’s focus and diligence in bringing their design to life could be called tunnel vision in the sense of being focused, the word’s other definition — “extreme narrowness of viewpoint” — is pretty inaccurate. Instead, the high school team’s project is designed to encourage viewers to broaden their horizons by exploring the past, present and future of local architecture.
The year’s theme for Exhibit Columbus is “New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?” This cycle of programming explores the future of the center of the United States and the regions connected by the Mississippi Watershed.
The project description for Tunnel Vision states that waterways shape both the formation of cities and their future development.
“Tunnel Vision looks at how Columbus was formed as a middle city and how it can develop into a larger city,” the description states. “Just as rivers have a linear path, our geodesic tunnel is a linear experience that transports you through history.”
The tunnel is made up of green and blue triangles, with etchings of local buildings displayed on the latter. The project will also include QR codes that, when scanned, provide informational videos about these pieces of local architecture.
The team took the question of Exhibit Columbus’ theme somewhat literally, creating a video that shows changes to Columbus over time and into the future.
In a video describing the exhibit, design team member and North senior Eshaan Mehta said the team sent out a survey for community feedback, which was taken into account in considering their vision for future Columbus.
“The responses we got were a combination of wanting to keep what was already there and sort of improve it,” he said, “and a lot of people honestly wanted to tear down what we had and build Columbus from the ground up again, which was quite an interesting dichotomy to try to approach — which we decided to do by keeping the core of the structures that were already here and kind of overlaying new facades on top of them.”
The project description also states that “Tunnel Vision” is not just about history but also provides a place for gathering and a visual experience.
Johnson’s advanced architecture students created the entire design, and the physical build began in May. Students also volunteered their time over the summer to work on building the project.
Some of Johnson’s building trades class was involved with the project as part of the “build group,” which also includes the design team, he said. Building trade students manufactured some of the steel struts and helped assemble them. He said the assembly was about 50-50 between architecture and building students.
The architecture students worked on all of the triangles in the project, including the etchings of architectural landmarks.
However, there was also a lot of work that went into the project even before building began.
“Almost the entire second, third and fourth quarter of the school year, we just took every day, probably an hour and a half, during our regular architecture mod to just work on everything else,” said Chase.
This included writing and recording videos in English and Spanish about the history of different buildings.
“Putting this together was the easiest part,” Eshaan joked, pointing to the multicolored tunnel.
Both Johnson and students said that timing and organization have been challenges for the project, especially given the number of people involved.
However, despite recent trends in material availability, the team didn’t have too much trouble getting what they needed, Johnson said. The green acrylic was little late, but the team still got it in time.
While the project is close to being installed, there was still work to be done earlier this week.
Johnson said Monday that the team would begin laying out locations of the tin piers at Central the next day and finish installing them by the end of the week. These hold up the installation, he explained.
Eshaan said that they’re in the final stages of the project. They still need to add QR codes to the tiles and complete certain videos. He and other students said they’ve also made some benches that need to be installed.
Despite the amount of work required, both the students and instuctor have enjoyed the process. Johnson said he likes how the project lets him work with students “outside of our standard curriculum.”
“It’s allowed me to do a lot of things that high schoolers don’t get to do,” said Eshaan. “…We got to essentially redesign all of downtown Columbus, which I can honestly say no other high schoolers would get an opportunity to do.”
It also gives them the opportunity to work with professionals, he added.
Johnson said that the students have collaborated with Exhibit Columbus’s curators, who work to ensure that each exhibit fits the year’s theme.
He also believes the project made students realize “just how significant the architecture of Columbus is,” which could be easy for lifelong residents to overlook.
“We’re lucky that we get to take a lot these great works for granted,” said Eshaan, “and I think this is just an opportunity to help the community recognize what we exactly have and appreciate what we have.”
Johnson added, “And by them going through and identifying all the structures and then researching all of the structures — if this would’ve been a class assignment, they would have hated it. But by it being their design, they embraced it. And now they embrace all the architecture. So it couldn’t have been a better experience for them, and I hope that the community sees it for what it is and they have the same newfound respect for the architecture of Columbus.”
About the team
This year’s Exhibit Columbus High School Design Team: Naricyn Andis, Bailey Barker, Isaac Carpenter, Brody Copas, Connor Deaton, Wyatt Frist, Owen Hebert, Angie Hernandez, Team Leader Chase Jones, Miguel Martinez, Eshaan Mehta, Grishma Pitkar, Adam Schwartz and Joshua Taylor.
This year’s Exhibit Columbus High School Build Team: Alexander Arellano Ferrer, Ethan Clark, Cameron Crider, Rocco Duffy, Gavin Frankhauser, Harley Gant, Andrew Krueger, Wesley Lack, Kai Linneweber, Juan Ruiz-Tapia, George Starks, Eric Stavnheim, Jesse Williams.
Instructor: Darin Johnson, C4 program
- The design team includes architecture students from North, East, CSA New Tech, Hauser, Brown County and Seymour. The build team includes construction students from North, East and CSA New Tech.
- Over 60 construction students from Johnson and C4 instructor Mike Metz’s classes are involved in installing the exhibit at Central Middle School. Metz is also involved with the installation.
- There are also students from precision machining and welding who have been fabricating parts. A student from graphic design has worked on the design and printing of T-shirts and QR codes.
Where to learn more
More information about “Tunnel Vision” and other Exhibit Columbus installations can be found at exhibitcolumbus.org.
Exhibit Columbus alternates between an exhibition one year and a symposium the next. It is an exploration of art, architecture, design and community that highlights the city’s global legacy in Modernist architecture, and promotes creativity and fresh ideas about that for the future.