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First Grosse Pointe, Now Cleveland?

Mar 27 '07 45 Last Comment
squaresquared
Mar 27, 07 4:33 pm
 

mdler
Mar 27, 07 4:55 pm

he should have designed so many ugly buildings

squaresquared
Mar 27, 07 4:59 pm

Just because a building is "ugly" doesn't mean that it should be torn down. We can all learn from historical moments in architecture, including brutalism.

JMBarquero/squirrelly
Mar 27, 07 5:09 pm

indeed. And who's to say that that particular structure could not offer some incredible spaces for living (loft/apartments, etc.)??

I just think that at the ongoing rate that america seems to continue to follow, we will never have "history" because we keep razing everything that has ever been built. Therefore everything is just temporary.

cmu268
Mar 27, 07 5:10 pm

one time my design professor said my building was ugly and left me bewildered, she came by my desk a day later and told me that was a compliment

im from CT and have seen the IKEA abomination....breuer's building is nothing spectacular but its awful what IKEA did there

squaresquared
Mar 27, 07 5:26 pm

...And IKEA purports to be a design-driven business! IKEA nearly tore the whole Armstrong building in New Haven down. Now it's adrift in a sea of asphalt.

I'm off to listen to some Joni Mitchell.

Alackrity
Mar 27, 07 7:10 pm

gothic cathedrals were ugly once.

I wonder if architects may eventually look out of the zippered openings of their modular shelters and admire the solidity and permanance of concrete.

Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
Mar 27, 07 11:59 pm

Hi Virtual Activists et al,
following the excellent Feature on Archinect regarding the Grosse Pointe Library, I got an email from Columbia professor and DoCoMomo VP Jorge Otero Pailos that informs on a step you can take to rescue this other endangered Breuer building...

+++++++++++++
To those interested in Marcel Breuer and Modern architecture,

This is the 11th hour for Marcel Breuer’s Cleveland Trust (Ameritrust) Tower
(demolition decision will be made Thursday). If you can send an email today
to the commissioners it might sway them.

Please call or e-mail your position on this important matter directly to the
Commissioners before Thursday's meeting. Their contact information is as
follows:

Commissioner Jimmy Dimora

Phone (216) 443-7180

CNJCD@cuyahogacounty.us



Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones

Phone (216) 443-7182

CNPLJ@cuyahogacounty.us



Commissioner Timothy F. Hagan

Phone (216) 443-7181

CNTFH@cuyahogacounty.us



All the best,



Jorge Otero-Pailos, Ph.D., Architect
Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation
Vice President, DoCoMoMo US

Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
Mar 28, 07 12:01 am

and in addition, if in Cleveland...

Subject: AIA Cleveland Urgent - Advocacy Bulletin



Cuyahoga County Commissioners

to Discuss Fate of Breuer Tower



The Cuyahoga County Commissioners will be discussing the demolition of the
Marcel Breuer designed Cleveland Trust (Ameritrust) Tower at it's next
meeting at 11:30 AM on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at the Board of Cuyahoga
County Commissioners Chambers, 1219 Ontario Street, 4th Floor.



All AIA Cleveland Members are invited to attend the meeting and express
their views on this matter.



Over the course of the last several months, AIA Cleveland's Executive Board
and Committee on Historic Resources has urged the Commissioners to
reconsider demolishing the Tower and has called for them to conduct a
comprehensive feasibility study of adaptively reusing the Breuer Tower for
the new County Administration Center.



If you cannot attend, please call or e-mail your position on this important
matter directly to the Commissioners before Thursday's meeting. Their
contact information is as follows:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





AIA Cleveland Statement



Cleveland, Ohio, January 30, 2007 - AIA Cleveland, a Chapter of the American
Institute of Architects, urges The Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners to
preserve and renovate the Cleveland Trust (Ameritrust) Tower.



Designed by the pioneering modernist architect Marcel Breuer in 1971, the
tower’s prominent location, noteworthy design and contribution to downtown
Cleveland’s skyline, make the building potentially eligible for listing in
the National Register of Historic Places. As stewards of the built
environment, it is our community’s responsibility to ensure that significant
examples of modern architecture like the Cleveland Trust Tower endure for
future generations.



Furthermore, AIA Cleveland encourages the Commissioners to undertake a
comprehensive feasibility study of adaptively reusing the Breuer Tower for
the new County Administration Center. This study must thoroughly analyze
the overall project development costs to the tax payers of Cuyahoga County
and definitively justify the decisions made by the Commissioners. In
addition, the impact of demolishing the twenty-nine story structure must be
carefully considered from an economic, environmental and sustainability
perspective. This study, coupled with a creative and transparent design
process, will determine if and how the existing building can best meet the
County’s needs.



Most importantly, we urge the County to engage the community during the
decision making process so that all voices are heard on this major
expenditure of public resources. AIA Cleveland stands ready to provide the
Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners with assistance and counsel in this
most important matter and we look forward to a constructive community
dialogue on this issue.

AP
Mar 28, 07 12:11 am

wow.
thanks for sharing that Javier. I will certainly make a call tomorrow.

brian buchalski
Mar 28, 07 1:24 am

for those of you who missed it, we did have some discussion of this project over on one of the other breuer threads. it was buried rather deep so here a link that should serve as a short cut and take you directly to the relevant part of the discussion.

at any rate, thanks to all for the update on this building.

AP
Mar 28, 07 2:37 pm

if you haven't written an email yet, take a moment to contact one or all of the Cuyahoga County Commissioners (names and email addresses provided above by Javier).

thanks.

brian buchalski
Mar 28, 07 3:05 pm

i just wrote to each of the commissioners myself. nothing special, just a short note of protest & a plea to reconsider...and only took about three minutes total.

evilplatypus
Mar 28, 07 3:31 pm

a quick note fired off to the comission...




Dear Commissioners,



It has recently been circulated that discussions are under way
for the possible demolition of a landmark modernist tower crafted
by Marcel Breuer in your city. I hope the commissioners take into
considerations the value of the tower from a construction standpoint.
Many millions of dollars as well as man hours have already gone
into the erection of such a structure. In addition to the structural
value already possess, you have one of the few Marcel Breuer Towers
in existence. While the mid-century “Brutalism” style is not the most
appealing in today’s architectural climate, an adaptive reuse or
reglazing could really bring a current look to the tower incorporating
energy efficient green technologies. The money you save by NOT
having to pour another 20 stories of concrete will be a big help in
mitigating the costs.



In your decision please remember that construction experts are like
doctors – its always good to get a second opinion. People who
says its less expensive to tear something down don’t always have the best grasp of cost and value. Many of our planets greatest cities, such as the rich and textured cities of Europe, are amalgams of this concept of adaptive reuse. Please consider.

Apurimac
Mar 28, 07 3:39 pm

this library was much prettier, this is gonna be one hard mother to try and save.

JMBarquero/squirrelly
Mar 28, 07 3:48 pm

email sent............

Fingers crossed!

squaresquared
Mar 28, 07 4:17 pm

Thank you, Javier for supplying the information with the commissioners' e-mails. Has Docomomo had a chance to get into the building to photograph and measure?

I have just sent an e-mail off to the board of commissioners, and I will pass the pertinent information along to an editorial contact I have at the Columbus Dispatch.

Fingers crossed that they will change their minds!

AP
Mar 29, 07 1:15 pm
Danny WillsDanny Wills
Mar 29, 07 1:28 pm

i know plenty of empty lots you could probably buy for less than a million in Cleveland, let alone $22 million. Empty lots, meaning you don't have to spend even millions more to raze a building and upset the whole architecture profession. What is so important about that spot?

JMBarquero/squirrelly
Mar 29, 07 1:37 pm

Good question Danny. Further still to me the question is why do these commissioners feel the need to vote to raze this particular bldg? I don't get it???

aquapura
Mar 29, 07 1:45 pm
Energy efficiency is another concern: Cuyahoga County wants a building that is LEED Silver certified, and commissioner Timothy Hagan says the tower “doesn’t meet the requirements of a new building as far as green architecture goes.”

So Cleveland wants a LEED Silver building and the only way to accomplish this is to raze a 28 story building?!? Has this commissioner even cracked open the LEED reference guide?

JMBarquero/squirrelly
Mar 29, 07 1:49 pm

apparently purewater......it's a damn shame too! I wish someone would call this guy out (in public no less) that would be fantastic

work for idle hands
Mar 29, 07 5:09 pm
http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/ohio/cleveland/breuer/bank.html

FYI this site has some pretty decent photos. It actually made me appreciate it a little more. I think the street level is quite nice. 'brutalist' though? not really in my opinion, besides what is i suppose a"rough" formed texture on the precast concrete curain wall panels. Its actually kind of a hodgepodge of a lot of styles which i think does a lot more to hurt its appeal to the casual observer than we might think. brutal isn't the same as brutalism and brutalism wasn't always that bad.

I'd like see it saved and reused, but i'm also not opposed to 'out with the old, in with the new' either for something as 'passable' as this one....If i thought for a second it would be replaced with something exemplary of our time and place that would be given even a second glance in 50 years i'd say tear this f'er down. but i don't, and it won't.....of course if I were their architect....



"gothic cathedrals were ugly once"

they were? maybe a better argument would be something like "The eiffle tower was considered by some to be ugly once."...since it was. But this building ain't a gothic cathedral and it ain't the eiffle tower either.

mdler
Mar 29, 07 6:17 pm

MDLER WAS HERE

squaresquared
Mar 29, 07 6:59 pm

Thanks for the photos, idle hands.

For those who are interested, here are some Wikipedia articles fleshing out some information about the style of architecture, architect and building:

Brutalism

Breuer

Cleveland Trust Tower



spaceghost
Mar 29, 07 7:29 pm

if you didn't know that this building was designed by breuer would you still deem it worthy of being saved? there are a lot of similar mid-rise buildings in los angeles. i think it is dangerous to make an argument that the money and material already spent on an existing structure is cause for saving a building. would you approve of a scheme where the facade was removed and replace with a "current" design? maybe save the floor slabs and structure and add a new curtain-wall? i do see some worth in saving the work of a master, but i don't find this tower very compelling.

that said i think it would be important to review what is being proposed in its place. there is an unwritten law in graffiti, if you can't burn it don't go over it. we as architects should follow along the same lines. in my opinion a neoclassical office building does not warrant the demolition of this one.

If a building outlasts its function then:

1. The function has changed though the years and has outgrown its existing space.
2. Find a new function for the building
3. If a new function cannot be applied then it should be torn down and something new should go up.

Simple as that. Demolition is part of architecture, if we begin to save buildings just for "historic purposes" whatever that means, then we are pack rats that cannot let go of the past. I am a firm believer that americans work so hard to save every little piece of history that they have because it is such a young country.

I realize that not all will agree with this mentality, but thats why this is a message board. Later

AP
Mar 29, 07 8:11 pm

in most cases, demolition is not an intelligent path to take, environmentally or otherwise. this building, as far as I know, is not a hazard to its' occupants. rehabilitation, as one of the 3 county commissioners has argued, is the best option for this structure, architectural merits aside.

this building has not outlasted its' function. some powerful cats just want to spend public money, $130mill of it, on something shiny and new.

evilplatypus
Mar 29, 07 8:51 pm

Its not the panels and its not the history. Architecture is the hidden order and underlying gemetry that organizes and arranges. Demolition is indeed part of architecture. But this is a case for selective demolition. Not destruction. The underlying structural systems and rythems are sitting there waiting to be expressed anew. The pencil lines of Breuer's drafting table waiting for their just due. Perhaps this building was limited by the constraints of the day waiting like an ugly girl who just out grew her glasses. Sitting at home just waiting to be kissed.

Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Mar 29, 07 10:39 pm


are they gonna demo the temple too?

won and done williams
Mar 29, 07 10:54 pm

breuer's po-mo entrance vestibule. who knew?

jaol
Mar 30, 07 2:01 am

that looks like a very beautiful building if someone would give it a little but of attention. Poor thing. look at some of our new buildings that we build today. I can see some of the very same ideas in these buildings as was when breuer designed this one. its minimalistic beauty should be celebrated because it seems to be screaming to be there, with just a facelift applied to its facade. if anything that crappy brick building next to it should be torn down since you can see that type of archiecture everywhere in americal, but who am i to say what people not in the architectural profession really like.

I would argue that destruction is also part of architecture. An important question to ask yourself is what is more important, conservation or preservation? Because they are completely different things. In england, its all called conservation, in this country conservation typically deals with greenfields, and preservation typically deals with something containing "historic" value. Which is fine, but you can argue anything to have significant historic value. Hell, we should preserve the out-house that george washington dropped a deuce in too if we are trying to save every little piece of history.

My point is that this is a very subject way of looking at how the possible future of architecture in this country should be handled, because there will be a limit as to how much space in built on in dense communities. Something is going to have to give, so I propose looking at it from a strict functionality point of view. If it still works, with the proper maintenance it should last until the end of days, but if not then its either demo'd or turned into something else.

I don't believe architecture to be this precious gem that we have to save everywhere, its a living breathing thing that is constantly refreshing itself based on technology and social issues of that current time. Anyway, thats my beef.

For the record, I am planner that works with historic preservation elements all the time in anytown USA, so even try to convince me that anything around here has any sort of historic significance. Save it.

AP
Mar 30, 07 8:54 am

i frankly don't care about 'preservation' as i understand it. i do care about conservation of resources, and as i stated above, if a building can be adapted, renovated, whatever, in order to continue its' function, that is the environmentally (and in this case fiscally) responsible thing to do.

AP
Mar 30, 07 8:56 am

on resources - they can be tangible or not. a cultural resource is worth conserving. maybe that's preservation. not sure.

AP
Apr 1, 07 12:37 pm
squaresquared
Apr 1, 07 2:05 pm

Not surprising, but still disappointing.

squaresquared
Apr 6, 07 11:16 am

BACK IN BUSINESS?

I received this e-mail today from the sole commissioner who voted for saving the structure. It's a long e-mail, but worth reading. It's giving me renewed optimism. Let's keep working towards saving the building!

A big thank you to Peter Jones.

***

Dear Concerned Citizen:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the prospective demolition
of the Ameritrust Tower, located at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East
Ninth Street and designed by the renowned modernist architect, Marcel
Breuer.

As you are probably aware, on Thursday, March 29, 2007, the Cuyahoga
County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) voted 2-1 to raze the tower, with
me casting the dissenting vote to preserve the building. In determining
as I did, I employed a *decision matrix* that considered the
following factors: (1) architectural significance; (2) aesthetics; (3)
preservation/sustainability; (4) functionality/work flow; and (5) cost.


The Breuer Tower*s architectural significance is well documented and
cannot be dismissed. By retaining the *brutalist* structure as part
of a new complex that includes the neoclassical rotunda and a new 21st
century contemporary building, an opportunity is presented for a rare
*dialogue* amongst three different architectural expressions. The
resulting campus will provide not only a living laboratory for students
of architecture but also an attraction for our citizens and visitors
alike. The architectural significance of the tower clearly favors its
preservation.

As regards aesthetics, some critics of the tower find it physically
unattractive. At the risk of sounding cliché, however, beauty is in the
eye of the beholder. Furthermore, tastes have a tendency to change over
time. Because some do not find the building visually pleasing, however,
is not reason enough to justify its demolition. Moreover, the highly
regarded firm of Davis, Brody and Bond demonstrated in a presentation to
the BOCC that the tower can be externally treated and the new structure
designed in a way that creates a physically compelling final product.

Our relatively recent embrace of preservation and sustainability as a
society and a community also militates for the preservation of the
tower. With the new administrative complex, we aspire at a minimum to
achieve silver LEEDS certification. The demolition of the tower will
jeopardize this goal, particularly as it has been designated a historic
structure by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. Furthermore,
demolition will be tricky, given the proximity of other structures to
the site. Finally, the waste of the thousands of tons of materials that
went into the construction - less than forty years ago - of this
building as well as the adverse environmental impact resulting from the
dumping of the debris in local landfills hardly constitutes a positive
ecological outcome.

A fourth consideration is functionality and work flow. Although the
tower*s floor plates are too small to accommodate County departments
on a single and, in most cases, on even two floors, this concern is
exaggerated. Most office communication today is conducted via e-mail
and telephone. Moreover, through creative intra-departmental
organization and grouping, the desired face-to-face interaction can be
achieved. A competent interior workplace architect and designer need
only, as Tim exhorts the contestants in Project Runway, *Make it
work!* Floor plate sizes and ceiling heights should not be viewed as
insurmountable obstacles in our efforts to provide a physical
environment conducive to the delivery of world-class service to our
citizenry.

Finally, impossible to ignore is the matter of cost. A minimum of $20
million can be saved by choosing adaptive reuse over new construction.
An additional $15 million in federal historic tax credits will accompany
the preservation of the tower. As stewards of public funds, we must ask
if there is a better use of the $35 million that could be saved in the
short run by retaining the structure. Considering the burgeoning
economic development, workforce training and health and human service
needs of our community, the answer is self-evident. An investment that
addresses our critical social challenges will yield a far greater
return, a more consequential community benefit than will the expenditure
of valuable dollars on a pubic edifice.

The Marcel Breuer Tower debate now proceeds to the City of Cleveland
Planning Commission, which, by charter, must approve the demolition and
construction of all public buildings within the municipality*s
boundaries. On Friday, March 30, 2007, the Planning Commission voted to
approve the demolition of three smaller structures on the site and
passed a motion that no action is to be taken regarding the Breuer
building until the panel has the opportunity to:
1) review a master plan for the entire site;
2) review plans to ensure the safe removal of art work currently in
the building;
3) tour both the Breuer Tower and the remainder of the site; and
4) hear a comprehensive presentation on the merits of preserving
the Breuer Tower.
The Planning Commission also required that no asbestos abatement take
place in the Breuer Tower without prior Commission approval.

Now that the fate of the building resides with the Planning Commission,
I urge you to share your views to that body as well. The names, phone
numbers, and e-mail addresses of the panel members are provided below. I
also urge you to communicate with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which, in
an editorial dated Tuesday, April 3, 2007, declared that the Marcel
Breuer Tower is not a *serious candidate for renovation.* You can
read the editorial at:
http://www.cleveland.com/plaindealer/stories/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1175589150262091.xml&coll=2


You may also wish to express your opinion on this important issue with
other news publications. In addition to that for the Plain Dealer, I
have included the contact information for the editorial departments of
the Call & Post, News-Herald and Sun Newspapers.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to share your views and concerns
regarding the Breuer Tower with me. As always, please do not hesitate
to contact my office if we can ever be of any assistance whatsoever.

Sincerely,

Peter Lawson Jones
Cuyahoga County Commissioner




ADDITIONAL CONTACTS

CITY OF CLEVELAND PLANNING COMMISSION MEMBERS

Anthony Coyne, Chair: 216-523-1500 (o)
acoyne@MGGMLPA.com

David Bowen: 216-491-9300, ext. 808
dbowen@RLBA.com

Joe Cimpermann:216-664-2691
tpfc@earthlink.net

Norman Krumholz:216-687-6946
norm@urban.csuohio.edu

Lillian Kuri:216-659-4926
lkuri@hotmail.com

Larwrence Lumpkin: 216-299-1550
lalumpkin@sbcglobal.net

Gloria Pinkney: 216-751-5131
jfpinkney@aol.com

CLEVELAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF
Robert N. Brown, Director
601 Lakeside Ave.
City Hall Room 501
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Phone: 216-664-2210 ~ Fax: 216-664-3281

Meetings are held the first and third Friday*s of everything month @
9:00 am Please call for the schedule and the agenda.
Robert N. Brown, Director
rnbrown@city.cleveland.oh.us

Gary Newbacher, Chief City Planner
gnewbacher@city.cleveland.oh.us

Jean Crawford, Private Secretary
jcrawford@city.cleveland.oh.us

Letters to the Editor

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Letters to the Editor
1801 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

e-mail letters to: letters@plaind.com
fax: 216-999-6209

Include your full name, address and daytime telephone number for
verification purposes. Submissions should not exceed 200 words.


Call & Post
Attn. Constance Harper
11800 Shaker Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44120

e-mail letters to charper@call-post.com
fax 216-451-0404

The New-Herald
Letters to the Editor
7085 Mentor Avenue
Willoughby, Ohio 44094

e-mail: editor@News-Herald.com
fax: 440-975-2293

The Sun News
The Sun News welcomes letters to the editor which are brief and to the
point, typewritten and double-spaced. We reserve the right to edit
letters. Deadline is 9 a.m. Monday, though we urge readers to submit
letters as early as possible. Letters are printed as space permits and
may not appear in the next edition, even when deadlines are met.
Sign your letter and include a telephone number at which you may be
called during business hours for verification purposes. Only names and
cities will be printed, not street addresses. We never print unsigned
letters.
Send "Letters to the Editor" to your local office or e-mail if you wish
with your address to: sun@sunnews.com

Chili Davis
Apr 6, 07 11:23 am

Mr. Jones knows his stuff. I don't understand how these points could have been ignored by the other two members on the board.

AP
Apr 6, 07 1:09 pm

big shiny and new can be distracting, chili.

squared^2 - thanks for passing that information on. it's very reassuring to hear that the planning commission is being considerate before making a decision.

JMBarquero/squirrelly
Apr 6, 07 1:21 pm

yup got the same Mass email.

so what's our next take on this folks??

squaresquared
Apr 6, 07 2:11 pm

I think that we should start e-mailing the additional names Mr. Jones supplied above. Going over some of the points that he brought up, especially the cost savings (I'm guessing that money probably has more sway with a planning commission than design), LEED certification and most importantly, the cultural value of the building.

Quantity and Quality of e-mails might help them change their minds, right?

I'm (still) working on getting an article published in the Columbus Dispatch.

work for idle hands
Apr 6, 07 3:07 pm

very interesting that it now starts to come out (more audibly at least) that the building has small floor plates and possible a low floor to floor (unless i missed that before). That's the big deal for the client, not the way it looks. Seems odd for an office building designed in 1971, i mean, mechanical systems haven't changed that drastically in 36 years.. buildings much older can easily accomodate contemporary offices without compromising ceiling height for mechanical systems. perhaps it was just a cheapo economical building for its time. (or..god forbid. just not very well designed)..

if the county bought this with the intention of demolishing it i don't think it has a snowballs chance in hell of surviving unless it is resold to a developer to use for condos or even low end offices. I could be wrong, but from my experience with gub'ment projects they aint gonna sacrifice their space or intended functionality no matter many architects convince them that 10 pounds of shit can indeed fit in a 5 pound bag.

though i'd be really interested in seeing the proposed design drawings for renovating it...is there any chance of that? is this public domain yet? "big shiny and new" might apply to both start from scratch and reuse. and we're all assuming from a bunch of subjective rhetoric that the new design is great....is it?

AP
Apr 6, 07 5:39 pm
if the county bought this with the intention of demolishing it i don't think it has a snowballs chance in hell of surviving

...

you may be right, but the community (read: tax-paying public) seems to be voicing some opposition to demolition. it's not just architects and conservationists...local laypeople seem to care about the building too.

not sure where, but i recall reading that this county (or city?) has a reputation for not acting in line with the public will, or at least being selfish when making certain decisions. sorry, i know that's vague, but i think i read something about this in the Plain Dealer (online) a few weeks ago.

squaresquared
Apr 7, 07 1:43 pm

BUMP!

brian buchalski
Jun 8, 07 4:26 pm

did anybody else get a letter similar to this? i'm still not convinced by their reasoning and if i wasn't overwhelmed with concern for the well-being of paris hilton right now, i would be very agitated...
June 7, 2007


Dear Mr. Buchalski:

We have received your correspondence on our decision regarding the future use of the Ameritrust Complex, including the Breuer Tower, for the new location of the Cuyahoga County Administration Building. As Cuyahoga County Commissioners, we are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the operations of county government, providing services and spending taxpayers’ dollars efficiently and wisely. With regard to the construction of the new County Administration Building, the County Commissioners have retained professional architects and engineering teams that completed a number of feasibility studies that were needed to make the best decision – economically, environmentally, financially and operationally. We did that for our constituents and for our employees to provide efficiency and sustainability now and in the future. This decision was not made lightly or arbitrarily. Much careful study went into investigating the alternatives and we took all factors and information on both sides of the issue into consideration before making a decision.

In 1988, the then-Ameritrust Bank, located at East 9th and Euclid, moved its headquarters to Key Tower, leaving the East 9th Tower, Rotunda and Prospect and Huron buildings vacant. The site and the buildings have sat dark and vacant for almost 20 years now. Additionally, the surrounding area of Euclid Avenue has suffered a decline – much of it is also deteriorating and vacant.

Currently, Cuyahoga County offices are located in many different locations around the downtown area. We are paying rent and leasing various office spaces while these offices and the services we provide are scattered in a patchwork around the city. This causes access and parking problems for the County residents who are the beneficiaries of these services and for our employees as well. We need a consolidated, convenient and efficient space to do the County’s business. As part of a combined effort to meet this goal and at the same time revitalize the Euclid Avenue area, the County bought the Rotunda and Ameritrust Tower properties in September 2005. Now we need to move forward with action.

We solicited a number of highly respected architecture and engineering firms to make recommendations for the use of this space. Among the experts who conducted the analysis were New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Gensler Architecture Design & Planning P.C., Richard Fleischman + Partners, Perkins + Will and Westlake Reed Leskosky Design. The majority and consensus recommendation called for the demolition of the Breuer Tower. The conclusion of Mr. Robert P. Madison of the lead architecture firm, RP Madison International, is as follows: “The analysis of the many factors considered to determine the best, most cost effective and most efficient use of the site and structures results in an unequivocal decision to abandon the Ameritrust Tower, demolish the building and construct a 21st century state-of-the-art facility for the Cuyahoga County Administrative Complex.”

We recognize the significance of the history and the architecture of the “Breuer Tower” but preserving and renovating the Breuer Tower is not an economically or environmentally sound option. By keeping the Rotunda and building a new office complex around it, we will be preserving the historic Rotunda that was built in 1907 while still meeting our future needs. In addition to its architectural and historic value, the Rotunda is in excellent condition and its floor plan is easily adaptable for any number of uses because of its open plan, flexibility and accessibility from several directions. The so-called “Preservation Tax Credits” are by no means a certainty in availability or actual dollar value with regard to the Breuer Tower. A careful analysis also reveals that the retrofitting of the Breuer Tower is not an environmentally sustainable choice, even if one acknowledges the embodied energy within the building or the unusable building materials that will result following the abatement and demolition.



Keeping the Tower will not meet our needs now or in the future due to functional and environmental inefficiencies:

• We need the County Administrative Complex to serve as a multi-divisional and multi-departmental public building with 350,000 gross square feet and 278,000 net square feet. The existing tower provides only 257,000 net square feet. It has 450,800 gross square feet but much of that is unusable due to an inefficient interior core design that was to have two towers – one of which was never built.

• The added cost of operating, heating, cooling and maintaining this unusable space alone could cost an estimated extra $12 million over a 40-year building life span per a Heery Life Cycle Study conducted by RP Madison.

• Floor plates in the Tower allow only 9,000 square feet per floor – this results in several County agencies being spread out vertically across a number of different floors – which defeats the purpose of having operations consolidated and defeats the purpose of making County operations more efficient through central location.

• The existing floor-to-floor height of 12 feet does not allow for modern and environmentally efficient lighting, natural light distribution and efficient heating, cooling and ventilation. This could not be a “green” building. The resulting low ceiling heights are not consistent with modern class A office space and will result in a less effective working environment.

• Asbestos removal in the tower would require the removal of the whole outer façade and granite on the exterior. New fireproof material would need to be applied and then the outer façade and granite tile would need to be totally reinstalled.

• Existing exterior skin and single-pane windows are not energy efficient. Windows would need to be replaced. If the exterior skin of the tower is retained, there will be a long-term expense to the County due to the exterior walls not having sufficient thermal R-value. In 2005, Johnson Controls estimated this cost to be approximately $1.5 million over a 40-year life in 2005 dollars.

• We would need to bring existing stairwells, outer connections and steel structures up to current code requirements – costly upgrades.

Based on the recommendation of the County’s team of professional and certified architects and engineers, the majority of the Cuyahoga County Commissioners made the best decision possible that the Breuer Tower and all other buildings with the exception of the Rotunda, be abated and demolished and a new Administration complex be constructed on its site.

Respectfully,

(insert signatures of Timothy F. Hagan and Jimmy Dimora here)


TFH/JD: mpk

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