If you need an example of the difference one person can make, look no further than the story of J. Irwin Miller. Mr. Miller was a businessman, philanthropist and lover of architecture and he dedicated his passion toward transforming his hometown of Columbus, Indiana. Through his vision and with support of his foundation, Columbus has become a “global mecca of architectural achievement.” The town of 45,000 has 7 national historic landmarks and over 90 buildings and works of public art by America’s most celebrated architects including I. M. Pei and Eero Saarinen.
Miller was a businessman who knew that his community needed to recruit and retain workers, and he believed that architecture helped make a town more desirable as a place to live. “I would like to see this community come to be the very best community of its size in the country,” he said. Backing up his words, the Cummins Foundation that he ran would pay the fees of the notable architects on its list for any community building project. Thus, over 60 buildings — the post office, churches, library, schools, shopping mall and more — came to be designed by some of the industry’s greats. In turn, Columbus has become a tourist destination, attracting thousands of visitors each year to tour the collection of modern architecture throughout the town.
It was said of Mr. Miller that “he could, and he did.” He led by example in striving for excellence and became a role model for others who saw his vision and invested in the community. Take a lesson from him and think big about the role you can play in your small world.
Learn more about Columbus here.