Posted by: COSI | November 11, 2008

Columbus Architecture Gems—Like COSI

I just came back from a quick weekend trip to Buffalo where we lived from 1995-2000 prior to coming to COSI and Columbus. Driving around, I was reminded of the great pride and emphasis on the architecture of the city—and there truly are some fabulous buildings in the city. We also have a number of distinctive and significant buildings in Columbus. Interestingly, I don’t see the Columbus community appreciating and promoting them as well as they could in comparison to Buffalo.

Franklin Park Light Display

Franklin Park Light Display

For example, I was pleased to be at the opening ceremony for the Light Raiment sculpture by James Terrell at the Franklin Park Conservatory which I think makes an incredible statement with an already elegant facility. This has created a real gem thanks to the funding by LimitedBrands of the light installation that the whole community can enjoy and tout.

I still don’t know why people don’t recognize the signature building that COSI has and feature it more. I’m continually awed by the building—the size, the statement it makes looking over from the city, the night features with the dramatic lighting (enhanced now with the lit Science Spectrum sculpture), and the blend of the historic Central High School and the newer addition.

Lit Spectrum Sculpture

Lit Spectrum Sculpture

Maybe it’s the perception that the building size has been part of the financial challenges COSI has experienced, and the thought we didn’t necessarily match the building with the experience at first. Now we’re appreciating the size as it is giving us latitude to try concepts like WOSU@COSI and our new Innovation Showcase or Labs in Life projects where we are partnering with OSU, Battelle, TechColumbus and others to expand the experiences at COSI. The space is also letting us host more community events and activities—helping us become more of a “center of science.”

COSI at Night

COSI at Night

Just as Franklin Park Conservatory has had world renowned artists and architects involved with their building, COSI’s architect Arata Isozaki is internationally known, and his COSI design garnered a great degree of national attention.

I find the complexity of the building and its features are sometimes lost on our guests—for example, the core of the east side of the building is the old Central High School. The stone steps I walk every day are clearly worn from the feet of thousands of Columbus citizens who received their education years ago in what is now COSI‘s learning space for the community.

COSI from Above

COSI from Above

Some of the architectural features are maybe not as apparent to the casual eye—the building is geographically orientated north-south, but the atrium and outside ramp are oriented with magnetic north. Isozaki is actually quoted as noting, “There’s a little shift between one axis and another, enough to make you ask why.” Have you noticed and wondered about that as the architect intended?

I’d love to see Columbus celebrate its architecture more, and I think the COSI building deserves to be recognized along with the other feature buildings of our community.

What’s your take?



  1. Dad, I like the entry but we didn’t live in Buffalo from 1995-2000. That was Binghamton. You were in Buffalo 2000-2006.

  2. You’re right–thanks for the setting me straight–but then you, your sister’s and your mom have gotten used to having to do that! 😉

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