Exhibit Columbus: Thank U, Next
A flexible, playful, and multi-directional public installation designed as an invitation to redefine Washington Street as a place where all of Columbus’s diverse residents are welcomed and engaged.
Thank U, Next serves as a destination for people from all parts of the city and from all backgrounds to have shared experiences. This project thanks civic leaders and past architects for their highly formal contributions to Washington Street, but also looks to create the next precedent for an alternative public space. An urban plaza that is flexible, reconfigurable, playful, multiple, and open, Thank U, Next is designed to be adaptable for diverse uses and to provide a place for social and cultural togetherness.
In September 2018, LA-Más was selected as one of five Exhibit Columbus Washington Street Civic Project Leaders – an honor given to mission-driven organizations that use architecture and design to improve people’s lives, connect communities, and catalyze efforts to make cities more equitable. We were invited to activate a site on Washington Street in the “modernist mecca” of Columbus, Indiana from late August to late November 2019 as part of Exhibit Columbus 2019.
LA-Más began the project by interviewing nearly a dozen Columbus-based community organizations to better understand the latent needs of the surrounding communities. Our team most consistently heard that downtown Washington Street is viewed as a hub for the middle class and wealthy. The goals of our project became: build an explicit and implicit invitation to redefine Washington Street as a place where working class residents are welcomed and engaged; create a 24/7 accessible intervention that supports organized and unorganized activities; and develop a design language that is non-hierarchical, multi-directional, and nonlinear.
Thank U, Next is made up of a collection of movable furniture elements which can be rearranged to support public events to support the city’s residents. The project will host a calendar of cultural programming hosted by Columbus community organizations that will bring Washington Street to life with a bold spirit of inclusivity. Community events will be hosted by Nomad Group, Healthy Communities, Cooking Across Cultures, the Bartholomew County Public Library, Turning Point, Viewpoint Books, and more. Once the installation duration is complete (August 23 - November 30, 2019), the elements will be adopted by Columbus organizations so that they can continue to support local programming.
LA-Más partnered with Indiana-based fabrication partner Kramer Furniture and Cabinet Makers to fabricate all 52 of the elements out of CNC-milled and painted PVC sheeting and piping. This project is generously supported by on-site liaison Liz Cleland, and by a grant from the Columbus Museum of Art & Design.
To stay up to date about the installation and upcoming community programming, check out the Facebook page!
Photos above by Hadley Fruits, Beth Stroh, and Kaelin Hanrattie.