Architecture: Showplace on the Prairie

Elegance in design revives a decaying town

Columbus, Ind., was clearly on the way down. Only a generation ago, its business area and residential neighborhoods were decaying, bored young people were leaving to find work elsewhere and the municipal future seemed all too bleak. Today Columbus (pop. 30,000) is a city transformed. Rising dramatically on a flood plain between Indianapolis and Louisville, it has become a bustling, vital community, a showcase of contemporary architecture—and the envy of urban redevelopers everywhere.

There are no fewer than 41 modern buildings, all designed by nationally and...

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