SOM's Republic Newspaper Building
Tom Harris SOM's Republic Newspaper Building

333 Second Street in Columbus, Ind., was designed for a different era. When it opened in 1971, at the height of Miesian Modernism, The Republic Newspaper Office and Printing Plant celebrated the production of newspapers: the generous glazing revealed the reporters and the physical press to passersby. Now, that glass-and-aluminum structure that Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Myron Goldsmith designed for local paper The Republic will be occupied by Indiana University's new M.Arch. program, which launches this fall with an anticipated inaugural class of 20 students.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012, The Republic's former office building sits on a downtown lot only a few blocks from Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church and I.M. Pei, FAIA's Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. "The Republic building is an attempt to turn a Miesian glass pavilion into a commercial space, much as Skidmore did with the influential Manufacturers Hanover Bank at Fifth Avenue and 43d Street in 1954," wrote critic Paul Goldberger in The New York Times about the building's 1975 AIA Honor Award win. "But this one is not compromised by a tight urban site; its freestanding quality and the drama of the presses visible through glass give this pavilion a degree of meaning and appropriateness that the New York bank does not have."

The building's former life ended years ago. The yellow printing press, visible from the street, was removed in 1997, and those functions were moved to another location. "The public noticed. Alarm bells went off," wrote longtime employee Harry McCawley in The Republic. "We fielded dozens of inquiries from people sure that the newspaper had gone out of business. The Republic still appeared each day, but something was missing — the piece of art that created it." The paper itself left in 2016 for a former furniture store north of downtown. "Like many newspapers across the nation, The Republic has been transformed from a newspaper company into a media business, reorganizing its structure and work processes to stay ahead of the changes that have been largely driven by technology," notes a 2016 article in The Republic.

The Republic's former building is a block away from Indiana University School of Art, Architecture + Design's 7,000-square-foot Center for Art and Design Columbus, which opened in 2011 and contains a gallery, a design studio, a workroom, and offices. Under the umbrella of the school, the new M.Arch. program, named after industrialist J. Irwin Miller, was approved in March of last year and will move into The Republic building in August. Headed by associate professor T. Kelly Wilson, the program will partner with local organizations such as the Columbus Architectural Archives and the Institute for Coalition Building of the Columbus Education Coalition. "This new degree is a brilliant step for our state and our School of Art and Design," said Lauren Robel, the Indiana University Bloomington provost and executive vice president, in a press release last March. "It is a beautiful next step in a long partnership between IU Bloomington and the Columbus community centered on that city’s stunning architectural history."