Cummins Corporate Office Building

Cummins Corporate Office Building

Columbus, IN

Bringing History Forward

An important example of modernist architecture designed by renowned architect Kevin Roche, Cummins’ global headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, needed an update to better serve a modern workforce. This leading manufacturer and distributor of engines and other power systems is known for innovation, and its workplaces are guided by the “Cummins Smart Office” strategy, which prioritizes mobility, flexibility, collaboration, and socialization. RATIO’s renovation continues the worthwhile mission to preserve history through updates that honor Roche’s original intent yet propels this meaningful place forward with powerful design interventions that have already wowed Cummins team members and empowered them to achieve their 21st century goals.

Cummins, Inc.
375,000 SF

The Cummins Office Building—a.k.a. the COB—was designed at the end of the 1970s energy crisis and features precast concrete walls with narrow horizontal bands of glass and mirrors, north-facing glazing, and skylights intended to maximize light while minimizing energy consumption. To understand the original design motivation and mechanics, the RATIO team meticulously studied every iconic detail from the exposed octagonal concrete columns and coffered ceilings; the end-cut wood, tinted glass and mirrors; to the museum-quality art installations popular with visitors and tour groups. This enabled the team to discern which elements must not be altered, and which required adaptation or replacement in the effort to modernize and create a true Cummins Smart Office that prioritizes employee experience.

Updated finishes and new LED lights improve the building’s lighting levels and acoustics. Open interior staircases have been realigned to offer new visual wayfinding cues, enhance vertical circulation and connectivity, and bring light into the lower-level meeting spaces. Reconfigured neighborhoods of desks maximize the building’s available real estate, ensure all employees a main-level workstation, and ease circulation along the building’s spine. A new central hub provides much-needed space for collaborating and socializing. And film now covers the abundant mirrors that often had a disorienting effect on employees trying to navigate the COB.

RATIO’s boldest modification to the building is on the facades facing the garden and water, where concrete walls have been replaced with clear glazing to provide greater visibility and access to nature. Yet even this move was made with great respect for the original design, as the horizontal banding and wall structure is maintained. This new openness also connects the modernist building with the historic “Cerealine” structure at its core—a restored 19th century cereal processing space that now serves as the COB’s dining facility.