Sunday, January 8, 2017

Small Losses, Likely Unnoticed (or, Bauhaus Bon Voyage)

My regular commute involves time on the mostly unremarkable stretch of Olentangy River Road between Dodridge and North Broadway. I say mostly unremarkable because there are but three features that distinguish it from any of the other four lane roads in Columbus dotted with hotels, chain restaurants, and car friendly retail. They are the Clinton Predestinarian Baptist Church at Dodridge and Olentangy, Union Cemetery, and a modest Bauhaus-by-way-of Richard Neutra inspired office building that's stood its ground since, oh, I don't know, 1965 or so.

Wait...a what? Where?

Yeah, the building at the entrance to Kohl's, the one that looks like a rectangular box with another rectangular box stacked sideways on top of it, the building with the crazy carport, the building you probably never looked twice at. That building, in its low-slung and unobtrusive way, was actually a pretty dramatic bit of period architecture. 


Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not like Architectural Digest was going to do a spread on this place. It's not a World Heritage site. It's not even a Lustron home. There's probably no architect of record either. Still, this is Bauhaus design at its purest, holding forth on half an acre of commercially-zoned Ohio real estate. Form follows function. The construction is honest; it looks like what it's made of. There is a decided lack of ornamentation. It's nothing fancy to be sure, but if you were ever curious to know what it looked like when high modernism trickled down to the retail parcels of  middle America, this was it. I mean look at that cantilevering! It's over the top! (pun intended). There's a cantilever, and then, "Oh go ahead and stick another on too".

Richard Neutra's Linn House

Anyone familiar with this area knows that over the last few years this stretch of road has seen something of a building boom. Mostly it's been in the form of cookie-cutter hotels to service THE Ohio State University, but there have been some retail additions too. Through it all, this boxy mid-century gem held fast. A couple years ago a "For Sale" sign materialized in front of it. Even then, no one seemed in any particular hurry to buy. Heck, I was tempted to make an offer.

Well, it apparently sold. I drove by a couple weeks ago and our humble Bauhaus wannabe had been transformed into an empty lot. I suspect some manner of development that doesn't pay homage to spare modernist design principles will likely take its place. We'll see.



I don't usually get sentimental about buildings and I know there's not really a compelling case for saving ones like this. Still, it doesn't seem right. It's a small loss, but given the fact no one will build anything like that again, it's permanent. I'm sure I'll feel differently though when I can swing in there for a Latte Macchiato on my way to work or a Diavolo Piada on my way home.

 

No comments:

Post a Comment