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ABA Banking Journal Podcast

Feb 26, 2020

With just 44,000 residents, how did the town of Columbus, Indiana, become one of the nation’s leading architectural destinations—ranked sixth of all U.S. cities for architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of Architects? The answer: a community bank president named J. Irwin Miller.

On the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, sponsored by Franklin Madison, historian and biographer Nancy Kriplen shares the story of how Miller—the head of both the family-owned Irwin Union Bank and the Fortune 500 diesel engine manufacturer Cummins—revitalized Columbus in the 20th century by recruiting some of the world’s most accomplished modern architects to design buildings there. Architects with credits in Columbus include Eliel Saarinen and his son Eero, Harry Weese, Cesar Pelli, Robert Venturi, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche and Robert A.M. Stern.

Kriplen discusses Miller’s role in hiring Eero Saarinen—best known for buildings like the Gateway Arch and the Dulles International Airport terminal—to design the Irwin Union Bank headquarters in 1954, which is considered one of the earliest open-concept bank buildings. She also speaks to his commitment as a community banker to local ownership and investment.