J. Irwin Miller:The Shaping of An American Town tells the life story of this remarkable man who led Cummins Engine Company from its roots as a small, family business to an international Fortune 500 company and transformed Columbus, Indiana, into a gem of midcentury modern architecture. As president and then chairman of Cummins, Miller emphasized a corporation's responsibility to the community in which it was located and its other stakeholders. Miller's commitment to Columbus architecture inspired such legends as I. M. Pei, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, and others to contribute their designs to what has become one of the most artistically revolutionary towns in the country. Columbus's unique public art and architecture continue to inspire young architects and attract visitors from around the world. Miller has also played a significant role in the American civil rights movement, securing cosponsorship for the March on Washington and working with presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to help pass the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King Jr., once called Miller "the most socially responsible businessman in the country."
J. Irwin Miller Family Tree
1. Lady Bird
6. Eliel & Eero
10. JFK, LBJ, JIM
15. a.k.a Pop
J. Irwin Miller: The Shaping of an American Town (Indiana University Press). "One of the challenges in writing this book – a good challenge, actually – was braiding together into a smooth narrative all the different interests of this man, in some ways an American Medici," writes Kriplen. Not only was Irwin Miller the longtime head of Cummins, the Fortune 500 engine company in Columbus, IN, but he worked with presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson on civil rights legislation, seriously studied the violin, and of course hatched the plan to have top rank architects design public buildings in Columbus, making it a gem of midcentury modern architecture.~Traces
J. Irwin Miller was more than a titan of American industry — he provided the business world with a vision for how to be about more than the bottom line, how to improve not just profits, but their communities. Nancy Kriplen has written the biography that Miller deserves, a richly detailed account of his life and times.~Clay Risen, author of The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act and The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and the Dawn of the American Century.
J. Irwin Miller was an accomplished businessman, a committed religious leader, an impassioned arts advocate, a talented amateur musician and a respected civic leader, not to mention one of the greatest patrons of architecture of modern times. But what really made him one of the noblest Americans of our age was that he accomplished all that he did with consistent modesty, decency, fairness and respect, qualities that are in short supply in public life today. Nancy Kripen has now told the story of his life, and for me this book not only led me to admire Miller all the more, but also to hope that reading about his life might help us to restore the tolerance and reason that he believed were vital to civilized community.~Paul Goldberger, author of Why Architecture Matters and Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry
Alternately inspiring and elegiac, Nancy Kriplen's engaging biography of J. Irwin Miller captures his remarkable life and legacy as an industrialist, philanthropist, patron of the arts, university trustee, faith leader, and master builder. The engineering and manufacturing company he ran and the town he shaped are the two most visible pieces of his legacy, but they represent only a fraction of his contribution to 20th century America.~Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture