Architects IKD
Location Indiana, United States
Lead Architects Yugon Kim, Tomomi Itakura
IKD Project Team Yugon Kim (partner), Tomomi Itakura (partner), Brendan Casimir (designer), Christian Borger (designer), Kotayba Qadour (designer), Xinya Ma (designer)
Project Year 2017

IKD’s proposal for the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library plaza, titled Conversation Plinth, pays homage to J Irwin Miller and aims to celebrate the community of Columbus. Its form takes cues from the conversation pit in the living room in the Miller House, as well as the plinths that elevate the important landmarks immediately surrounding the site—the library designed by I. M. Pei, the First Christian Church designed by Saarinen church, and the Large Arch by Henry Moore.

The installation offers a place for the community to gather and converse, and elevates people, both literally and metaphorically. Starting around the perimeter of the Moore sculpture on the eastern half of the site, large shifting timber discs compose a series of plinths that rise upward towards the west.
By bridging across the now defunct rotary and occupying what is now an empty area of the plaza, the installation seeks to restore programmatic function to the site, encourage dynamic circulation around the sculpture, and allow the plaza to be experienced in a new way, in both horizontal and vertical directions.

The installation would be made of a hi-tech engineered timber product called CLT, or Cross Laminated Timber. Although softwood CLT already exists in the US, hardwood CLT, native and abundant in Indiana, does not. The proposal aims to jumpstart and accelerate the development and use of hardwood CLT fabricated from parts of logs harvested from Indiana forests that can currently only be used to produce low-value wood products. It seeks to demonstrate the viability and the benefits of a new, high-value timber market in Indiana.
IKD has secured support from various private and public interests: Smartlam, one of the two only manufacturers of CLT in the US, Bensonwood, a leading engineering firm highly knowledgeable in engineered timber, the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, who could assist with material procurement, and several local academic institutions, who could assist with testing the composition and structural capacity of hardwood CLT.

IKD has been awarded a $250,000.00 for a two-year United States Forest Service (USFS) Wood Innovations Grant to fund the development of Hardwood Cross Laminated Timber (Hardwood CLT) and the construction of the first Hardwood CLT project here in the United States. IKD was selected from 114 national applicants and was the only architectural design firm to have won a grant this year.  This is an ambitious project that aims not only to honor the most important patron and vibrant community of Columbus, but also to place the city on the forefront of new material research, and ultimately to contribute significantly to the timber industry of Indiana by developing and substantiating the use of hardwood CLT.