Cummins, Inc.
  • Workplace

375,000 SF

Bringing History Forward

A thoughtful design convergence on the Cummins Office Building brought together both subtle and bold renovation strategies to propel forward this historically meaningful modernist headquarters building for a contemporary workforce.

The Challenge

First opened in 1983, the Cummins global headquarters was originally designed by celebrated architect, Kevin Roche, in a city with a collection of significant architecture by world renowned architects, made possible by the Cummins Foundation.

The task of renovating the Cummins Office Building (COB), would need to go beyond honoring Roche’s hand, however. The true challenge was respecting its defining elements, octagonal columns, precast concrete walls with narrow horizontal bands of glass and mirrors, north-facing glazing, and skylights intended to maximize light while minimizing energy consumption – a response of its time at the end of the 1970s energy crisis – while bringing the headquarters in line with the more contemporary “Cummins Smart Office” strategy, which prioritizes employee experience by elevating mobility, flexibility, collaboration, and socialization.

Categories of Interest

  1. Iconic Elements
    Restored to Original
  2. Influential Elements
    Informs Design Direction
  3. Improvements
    New Introductions

The Strategy

Our design team began by meticulously studying every iconic detail of Roche’s original design and created a set of design guidelines reflective of the original motivation and mechanics. This activated a thoughtful renovation that improved acoustic and energy performance, wayfinding, and lighting levels, alongside the introduction of daylit collaboration spaces and work desk neighborhoods. The boldest modification to the building was on the facades facing the garden and historic Cerealine Building, where concrete walls were replaced with clear glazing to provide greater visibility and access to nature while respecting the horizontal banding and wall structure of the original design.

Kevin Roche
Cummins Office Building, 1972
Angular 45° Grid

Angular Walls

The three-block-long COB is built on the site of Columbus’ original trainyard, so its many angles were inspired by the direction of the rails that once moved through the site.


The COB features over one mile of skylights, oriented at a 45-degree angle to the primary building grid. Pleated curtains have been replaced with frets that maintain access to natural light but help to control it.

Wall Mural Art

Continuing the legacy of Cummins founder J. Irwin Miller, art is featured prominently through the COB spaces, including commissioned artist Jason Middleton’s colorful murals inspired by the mid-western landscape.


Furniture-like “armatures” oriented with the building’s circulation spine have been added to the workspace interior and now serve as wayfinding elements and neighborhood hubs.

LED Lights

New, narrow LED lights have been strategically placed in the ceiling seams to improve the COB’s overall lighting but maintain the integrity of the original design that is free from any intruding ducts, wires, or other systems.

Use of Color

Color is used sparingly to maximize its meaning and impact, and to mimic the original aesthetic. Colored panels on the walls and furniture vary from warm tones in the building’s southern spaces to cool tones in the north.

Kevin Roche Carpet Design for Cummins, 1972
Town Square, 2020

Town Square

The central “town square” space subtly brings the COB’s full color palette together in a commissioned art piece.

Historic Ceraline Building

Outdoor Spaces

New windows and doors improve employees’ access to the renovated garden landscape and water feature, and a terrace has been added to the Cerealine building for outdoor dining.

Exploded Engine

Cummins’ original “exploded engine” artwork by Rudolph de Harak was cleaned and restored and moved to a more prominent position in the lobby.