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Packard, Porn & Ohio Architecture

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Packard, Porn & Ohio ArchitectureThe Atlas Building Downtown - photo by Susan Post
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The Midwest might be well-known for its wide-open spaces, agricultural production and comfort cooking, but outside of Frank Lloyd Wright, its architectural contributions are often overlooked. 

That’s a shame, because that means missing out on some good structures, and the stories that go with them. 

Belt Publishing’s new book, Midwest Architecture Journeys, explores the region’s contributions to the architectural scene in a collection of essays edited by Zach Mortice. The collection looks at inventive structures from renowned architects, as well as structures that might be more…unexpected: silos, parking lots and flea markets. 

The release date is set for Tuesday, October 15, and Two Dollar Radio HQ is serving as host for a kick-off party at 6 p.m. that evening. The stories behind Two Dollar Radio HQ’s building are yet to be told, there’s probably something, though: it’s all brick, and built in 1924. All the same, it makes the perfect spot for the launch: it’s a bookstore, so you can score a copy of the book.

Authors featured in Midwest Architecture Journeys will share readings from its pages. Columbus takes center stage in an essay by Amanda Page, who introduces the reader to Frank Packard and his contributions to the city. As she notes, “You might spot an older building that survived the demolition and development onslaught. Chances are, the building that caught your eye was designed by Packard.” That collection includes the Seneca Hotel, Atlas Building and the Athletic Club. 

Ryan Scavnicky, an architecture academic (and meme-maker), will also read from his essay, Ruin and Porn. You might suppose that’s a reference to “architectural porn,” in the tradition of “food porn” or “earth porn.” Nope. It’s porn-porn.

“It begins to describe the obsession called ‘ruin porn’ which was a mid-2000s era internet sensation of sneaking into abandoned buildings to take photographs and tell stories,” Scavnicky says. “Near around the same time, the empty warehouse as a backdrop in pornography films was on the rise. This gave way for some interesting commentary about how to use architecture to construct desirable spaces.”

While the release party is co-sponsored by the Young Ohio Preservationists (YOP), YOP’s Claire Jennings emphasized that everyone is most welcome.

“We are an offshoot of Heritage Ohio. Our goal is to engage people to get interested in preservation, whether it’s buildings, place, or cultural heritage,” she says. “While “young” is in our title, anyone is welcome to our events.”

The group is also sponsoring a Packard walking tour. The Packard Presence Walking Tour kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 13, when guests will meet up outside CCAD’s Packard Library. You can find out more about both events through YOP’s Facebook page.

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