Breuer: Ameritrust Cleveland: Here we go again

rondo mogilskie

From the SAH listserv...

To whom it may concern,

The Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners voted 2-to-1 yesterday in
favor of demolition of the former Ameritrust Tower built by Marcel
Breuer. The two commissioners in favor of razing the Cleveland
structure have opted not to even consider renovation of the only tower
built by this great Modernist architect, which could reduce costs by
as much as $20 million.

Money aside, I am greatly concerned about losing this impressive
building as a result of an issue of personal taste. It's Brutalist
style is unfortunately in the twilight between stodgy, old
architecture and classic, and for that reason it has few voices of

I am one of those voices here in Cleveland, but there are not too many
others. Some who oppose the demolition do so in opposition of
needless government spending, but are generally ambivalent about the
Breuer Tower itself. I feel that to save the tower, our small group
needs assistance in helping Clevelanders understand its significance.

DOCOMOMO US recommended that I forward this message to you at the
Society of Architectural Historians for suggestions, and I understand
that a number of members are scholars of Marcel Breuer. Can you
please tell me what kind of resources are available to us? How can we
turn up the volume of the opposition to razing Breuer's tower - not
just in Cleveland, but nationally?

I truly look forward to you response.


W. Michael Fleming
SoLo Development

Apr 1, 07 3:49 am

I think Brad and Angelina should start adopting orphaned buildings

Apr 1, 07 6:19 am  · 
Apr 1, 07 12:36 pm  · 

Before you begin a large effort to wrangle people up in opposition, maybe the community should come to an consensus as to whether or not they even care about the situation.

1. Attempt to hold community - contact the planning director and attempt to have public meetings regarding this.
2. Come to a public consensus
3. If the consensus is to keep the building, then raise hell in the media and contact the commissioners directly, from my experience if you put enough pressure on commissioners, they will do the people's bidding.

Just to keep in the back of your mind, maybe the general public doesn't agree with you. Maybe iits an issue of economics and the developer proved it to be more efficient to tear down. Maybe the building is causing blight to the area. If the building isn't landmarked as historic on the National Register, or has a local historic designation then the developer by right can do what they want to their property.

What I'm saying is that there are a lot more pieces to the puzzle that we don't know, so people should get all the info before you get out our pitchforks and unchristian tones.

Apr 2, 07 9:57 am  · 

I've been emailing local writers and barely a whimper of response. Mr. Litt was the only response and that was a messege saying only "I agree".

Local support of the charrette is imperitive

Apr 2, 07 10:09 am  · 
won and done williams

Huanmic, I completely disagree. That relativist approach is why there is so much developer-driven schlock in your cities. First, you do not need a feasability study to tell you that demolition and new construction will have a higher economic and environmental cost than retrofitting an existing building to meet current needs. Period. Second, regardless of public taste there is an inherent value in preserving our built environment. Tastes change, but the best cities preserve their architectural heritage and add to it. Third, this is not a developer project; it's a consolidation of the Cuyhoga County Administrative Offices. By retaining the existing building the county can both cut costs from new construction (i.e. save taxpayer dollars) and retain a cultural asset. It's a win-win, but it appears someone on the County Board wants a new building to put his/her name on.

Apr 2, 07 10:51 am  · 

The discussion is ongoing because the Cleveland City Planning Commission voted last week to deny the demo permit. Well, good thing because they were shown no replacement option during the applicant's presentation the week prior. That's right; we saw no drawings, no proposal of a new building.

There's much more to this discussion here:

Here's the coverage on the decision:
City planners vote against razing tower for county complex
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Tom Breckenridge
Plain Dealer Reporter

The battle over the fate of a landmark tower downtown reached an uneasy standoff Friday, with the city's Planning Commission refusing to approve demolition that would clear the way for a new Cuyahoga County administration complex.

City Planning Commission Chairman Tony Coyne ripped county officials for lack of cooperation and failure to seriously consider saving the 29-story Ameritrust tower at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue as part of the new complex.

"We don't get it in Cleveland," Coyne said. "In downtown Chicago, they would never tear this down."

County Commissioner Tim Hagan fired back, saying multiple architects found the tower unworkable for the county's needs.

"This is beyond anything I've confronted in my political life," Hagan said in an interview Friday afternoon. "An unelected group dictating to commissioners what kind of building should be built in a city where the mayor and City Council president support it. That's exactly what's wrong with the city."

Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council President Martin Sweeney have voiced support for the commissioners' 2-1 vote in March to raze the stark tower, designed in the Brutalist style by renowned architect Marcel Breuer.

The complex, including the iconic Cleveland Trust rotunda building, would consolidate county agencies employing nearly 2,000, affording a big opportunity to boost commerce in the city core, county officials said.

But an active band of preservationists and architects - including several with national repute - have rallied for reuse of the tower.

Path to destruction?
Saturday, June 16, 2007

September 2005: Cuyahoga County commissioners, searching for a new headquarters, pay $22 million for the former Ameritrust complex at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue.

March 29, 2007: Commissioners vote 2-1 to raze the site's landmark tower. Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones casts the dissenting vote, saying reuse of the tower makes more sense in terms of preservation and cost.

June 1, 2007: The Cleveland City Planning Commission hears from architects who favor retrofitting the unique tower, saving some $20 million on a project that could reach $200 million.

June 8, 2007: The Planning Commission hears from the county's architectural team that any savings from reuse of the tower would be negated by the cost of retrofitting to meet the county's needs. The commission decides not to deny the demolition permit, saying it needed more information.

June 15, 2007: The Planning Commission rejects a move to approve a demolition permit and demands more detail from the county on what the project will look like and how it will affect downtown.

They say savings on demolition and landfilling, as well as historic tax credits, could total from $19 million to $35 million.

But the county's architectural team -- Robert P. Madison International of Cleveland and Kohn Pedersen Fox of New York -- said the savings would be offset by the need to enlarge each floor, retrofit for the possibility of earthquakes and replace hundreds of single-pane windows in the buildings' honeycombed facade.

At Friday's Planning Commission meeting, members learned that historic tax credits could be used only if the county transferred the property to a private developer. And the county could lease back only 35 percent of the building, not enough for its space needs.

Coyne was unconvinced. He said that he may yet support demolition of the tower but that he is unhappy that the county didn't involve city planners in the site-selection process and that the county hasn't shown more detail of the new complex and its impact on downtown.

Coyne then joined a majority of the commission to vote down a conditional approval of the demolition, proposed by downtown Councilman Joe Cimperman. He is the council's representative on the Planning Commission.

Shortly after the vote, Deputy County Administrator Lee Trotter expressed frustration.

"I don't understand what's going on and the angst over this building," Trotter said.

Hagan said he may urge the county to move ahead with demolition, without the city Planning Commission's approval. The county has a legal opinion that the city's charter gives the county the power to overrule a Planning Commission decision.

To reach this Plain Dealer, 216-999-4695

Meanwhile Grosse Point Library makes it onto the World Monuments 2008 Watch List of 100 most endangered sites. And the Ameritrust Tower is listed in the recent past preservation network as immediately endangered
Please forward this notice to those who have not yet written to our elected and appointed officials and press. Davis Brody Bond was not allowed access to their submission materials in order to present to the Cleveland City Planning Commission, however, Doug Hoffman of partnering firm Weber Murphy Fox made an exciting presentation of the efficacy of retaining the building and exceeding the requirements of the county for less money and in less time. RP Madison offered nothing except some scare tactics about the possibility of inadequacies in the foundation if an earthquake should happen and a demolition contractor who has never deconstructed a skyscraper before (oh and who is under indictment for corruption in a neighboring county on their justice center project).

We need your help. Coyne was moved by letters he had received from outside the region. If you haven't already, please write to the addresses listed at If you have already written, thank you!

Cleveland is a shrinking city -- there are many other potential sites for a county administrative complex.

Among the links, see planner, Hunter Morrison's 7 decision-making principles for major redevelopment. It's a good primer for anyone involved in this sort of issue.

Jun 19, 07 8:40 am  · 
vado retro

grosse pointe made it on due to some hard work by some hardworkin people on archinect.

Jun 19, 07 8:49 am  · 

That's great. Thanks for helping out on Grosse Point which is just a point of departure (excuse the pun) on an even larger issue -- preserving modernist architecture.

If anyone can turn their attention toward our complex issue, we will be VERY, VERY APPRECIATIVE. The fact that Grosse Point made it onto the watch list made a difference to our planning commission and has brought focus to the issue of modernism coming into the realm of preservation worldwide. It is precisely because I assumed from reading the Grosse Point threads here that you all had a hand in it that I registered to post here. The pressure we hope to apply is that the world is watching, not just some seemingly insignificant taxpayers.

The two commissioners in question undoubtedly want a legacy. We want them to know that if they tear down this Breuer, their legacy will be wastefulness and tastelessness, not an iconic edifice. In fact, I would think that not allowing Davis Brody Bond access to the plans they submitted to the County Commission for presentation to the City Planning Commission would be fuel enough to spur some feedback to them about how inappropriate their actions in that regard were.

Here's the article:
New York architects take case for saving Breuer tower to Cleveland planners
Posted by Steven Litt May 29, 2007 13:36PM

Steven Litt
Plain Dealer Architecture Critic

Architects who think a downtown office tower could be renovated by Cuyahoga County as a new administrative center will present their case to the Cleveland City Planning Commission Friday morning.

But they'll have to do it without the model and drawings they created for the county, which has refused to let the team have access to its original presentation materials.

"The commissioners don't feel it's in the best interest of the project to rehash it with a firm that was not selected" to do the project, Lee Trotter, deputy county administrator, said today.

In March, two of the three county commissioners, Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora, voted to demolish the 29-story Ameritrust Tower, designed by the leading 20th-century architect Marcel Breuer and built in 1971 along East Ninth Street just south of Euclid Avenue.

Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, the lone commissioner who believes in renovating the tower, voted against the demolition.

The majority commissioners selected the architectural team of Robert P. Madison International of Cleveland, with Kohn Pedersen Fox of New York, to design a new county administrative center.

The commissioners rejected a proposal from the architectural team of Davis Brody Bond of New York and Weber Murphy Fox of Cleveland, whose members said the tower could be renovated, saving $20 million on a project expected to cost more than $196 million.

To demolish the tower, the county needs a permit from the Cleveland City Planning Commission. The planning commission voted in March to consider the demolition request if the county met six conditions, including completion of a master plan for the proposed new administrative center and a presentation on plans to save the tower.

Douglas Hoffman, an architect with Weber Murphy Fox, said that Will Paxson and I. Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond will visit Cleveland at their own expense Friday to present their analysis of the Breuer tower to the planning commission.

Hoffman said the county's decision to hold back the model and drawings made by firms won't prevent members of his team from discussing the merits of saving the tower.

"We feel duty-bound by conscience to share what we know," Hoffman said.

Trotter said that the materials in question are county property and could be considered public records if requested by citizens or the press, but would not be released for use by an architecture firm that makes a presentation to another government body.

Is this standard practice in other communities? Max Bond did not travel to Cleveland to present the plans, but Hoffman made a wonderful presentation.

Jun 19, 07 9:40 am  · 
vado retro

millerbrown have you seen This? Maybe we MAPA members should write a letter.

Jun 19, 07 9:47 am  · 
brian buchalski

millerbowen-'s great to see your interest in this project. a number of us have written at least brief and/or modest statements of support for the breuer tower in cleveland. admittedly, it hasn't generated a great deal of heat yet...but maybe we just need to keep at it.

also, i recently recieved the following response to my original letter to the cleveland commissioners which i had posted earlier on a thread over here. unfortunately, even though i'm not convinced by much of their reasoning, i haven't yet found the time to write them a response.

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.


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

TFH/JD: mpk

Jun 19, 07 10:07 am  · 

So the front page of my NYTimes has a link this morning with a photo of the building:


I thought the Kennedy note was interesting. I was just having this conversation yesterday about the Kennedy angle. Hunter Morrison mentioned the Kennedy era design point two weeks ago along with the dry martini acquired taste angle.

Hagan’s bio mentions his ties to the Kennedy family:

Maybe his Kennedy family god daughter could sway his decision – not voting to defeat Breuer, but to tell the story of preservation.

It is interesting that Dimora and Hagan are responding now to letters sent months ago by everyone. They must be feeling the heat. Thanks for writing!

Here are the slides from Hoffman's presentation:
and a thread at Green City Blue Lake:

Thanks again! Please keep it coming. We won't go down without a fight!

Jun 19, 07 10:44 am  · 
brian buchalski

this is a rather nice image of the breuer tower

have any of the local cleveland archinecter visited the site and taken any photos to share?

Jun 19, 07 2:54 pm  · 

i'll go ahead and post this here - probably needs to be submitted to

ingenuity 2007

Jun 19, 07 7:02 pm  · 

...and submitted to bustler.

Jun 19, 07 7:07 pm  · 
Sponsored by Ingenuity, the Cleveland Festival of Art and Technology, this juried architectural exhibition invites architects, architectural interns, students, engineers, artists and designers living or working in Northeast Ohio to answer the question. The intent of the exhibit is to keep the debate alive – through both imaginary and real alternatives to the Breuer Tower’s future. Additionally, this exhibit offers area design professionals and others with an opportunity to participate in the Ingenuity festival and to demonstrate how architecture can be the embodiment of “creativity, innovation, culture and technology.

why limit entry to those living in this relatively small geographic region? seems counter to their primary motivation: keeping the debate alive.

somewhat rhetorical question, as i've posed a more complete version to the competition organizers...

Jun 19, 07 9:45 pm  · 

you know I thought the same thing... sort of provincial in tone, isn't it. Good for you for writing to James Levin to ask about why it is limited to NEO. We need all the help we can get and I don't mean a hand out, but a hand up. Cleveland is the poorest city in the US right now. So many preservationists and architects are so beholdin to the power structure that they felt they couldn't speak out.

But check this guy, Patrick Hyland. This was in the storefront window of the Cleveland Public Art office:

We just had a design competition in Cleveland for some space that the Muni Housing Authority decided they can't rebuild on. Since I only recently found this site, I don't know if it was posted here.
Some cool ideas even though it was an ideas competition.

I thought it was very interesting that muni housing cam down and they decided to let it be greenspace. The back story is that the father of public housing in America began that crusade here in Cleveland. Ernest Bohn and all his bones were altruistic at the time. Little did he know what devastating affects housing projects would have on cities. He was just trying to give people a reasonable shelter, running water and heat, etc. Ah, the best laid plans...

Jun 19, 07 10:13 pm  · 
brian buchalski

what! i'm not allowed to enter because i don't live & work in northeast ohio...that's daft. what are they afraid of?

that's also an interesting point about local architects feeling reluctant about speaking their minds because their too reliant on the local system/politics/whatever. we ran into some similar apathy in the detroit architecture community as well with the grosse pointe breuer.

Jun 19, 07 10:46 pm  · 

i don't live & work in northeast ohio either [insert noise marge simpson makes when homer does/says something stupid]

Jun 19, 07 11:30 pm  · 
brian buchalski

millerbowen, quick question: who should any letter writers address send their thoughts to today to support the breuer? are the county commissioners still the best target if someone were to have time to send one email/letter? many thanks!

Jun 20, 07 9:13 am  · 

I hope you'll reply with whatever response you get from Ingenuity about entering the competition, but in the meantime -- I just want to say, that we have a pretty good complement of architects here in Cleveland. Check it out and this is only the AIA list. More impressive are the students at Kent and who are coming up through the forward thinking Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative affiliated with the Kent School of Architecture and Environmental Design.

When I was involved in a fight about a bridge over the street at our local inner ring suburb (ultimately solved by a group of young designers to everyone's benefit), 90 architects came out to rally from my inner ring suburb population 48,000. So we have architects. But Ingenuity should open to everyone because the best idea could be yours.

In the meantime, two things -- we need to stop the madness and stay the wrecking ball and this property is in the fringe of the new district of design being planned for the area.
$2 billion will be spent in the next three years in the Greater University Circle Initiative, and the city is undergoing a massive if confused effort to do a pull up -- that'd be up and out of poverty.

This project is a step back, and we need innovators, preservationists, appreciators of modernism and Breuer fans from outside the region to stand behind the folks here who see that so clearly.

These commissioners have their hands in our pockets and there is not much more they can get out of the already empty pockets of most of the people here, but that's not stopping them.

If you can write a letter, if you can help us argue from the point of preservation, green building, planning... whatever, please take your best shot. This is a complex issue and we will have to fight what could be graft or corruption or bribery (if that is going on), but it is important for these guys to know that the eyes of the world are on them.

Cleveland was once a great teeming metropolis fueled by industry. Rockefeller, Flagler, Brush, Edison began their world changing efforts here. Now it is a rust belt city in recovery. It is s a shrunken city, not unlike many others worldwide. There is not one silver bullet to remake our region. However, pouring money into erasing our past, destroying a huge amount of embodied energy and all that with no plan for a better idea is obscenely wasteful, and does nothing to improve the lives of our citizens.

Please let them know that the conversation has broadened -- that they are being watched, that their actions will be considered beyond Cuyahoga County. You may not be able to vote for them, and they cannot take your tax money if you don't live here, but they can rob the world of a building that can reveal a story about Cleveland Trust, about Breuer in Cleveland and about Breuer's realized skyscraper.

From a friend at, "From the Bell building to the Greyhound station to the two buildings at E. 105th and Carnegie not to mention the Burnham City Beautiful plan, we have more architectural gems than a county commissioner can throw a stick of dynamite at."

We'd like to retain our Breuer Tower. If you can lend a hand, we will appreciate it.

Jun 20, 07 9:34 am  · 

i received a response from a competition organizer (not the person named by millerbowen above). he welcomed my participation, and by implication anyone outside of the region. more to come...

Jun 20, 07 9:36 am  · 

I like your point about the great mechanical and industrial minds who made Cleveland a thriving industrial metroplis at one point. Where is that midwestern spirit of thrift and ingenuity when it comes to adaptive reuse or extending the floor plates to make it feasible? The attitude of the 2 commissioners is a terrible way to advance the image of Cleveland. They propose to build a Leed certified lowrise municiple building just like every other mid size city.

Jun 20, 07 9:43 am  · 

BTW - the competition is due in 48 hours - it really never made it out of Cleveland

Jun 20, 07 9:47 am  · 

recentpast has the email addresses, but Ill compile them here for easy access:
Anthony Coyne, Chair, David Bowen, Joe Cimpermann, Norman Krumholz, Lillian Kuri, Larwrence Lumpkin, Gloria Pinkney;;;;;;
Robert N. Brown, Director, Gary Newbacher, Chief City Planner;
Peter Lawson Jones Timothy F. Hagan Jimmy Dimora;;
ALSO COPIES TO OUR NEWSPAPERS The Plain Dealer, Free Times, Scene, CoolCleveland;;;

Jun 20, 07 9:52 am  · 
brian buchalski

48 hours? damn, this is going to be a charrette.

Jun 20, 07 10:24 am  · 
vado retro

looks like mark lefkowitz put a great deal of time and energy into this project.

Jun 20, 07 10:38 am  · 

whos mark lefkowitz?

Jun 20, 07 10:40 am  · 

ahh- I see - nevermind

Jun 20, 07 10:41 am  · 

This just in:

Due to interest beyond Northeastern Ohio, the organizers of this exhibit wish to invite national and international architects, designers and other interested persons to participate in this juried exhibition.

Given the fixed date of the exhibit, please note the limited time leading to the submittal due date. Thank you for your interest.
Ingenuity 2007 the Cleveland Festival of Art & Technology architecture exhibit

What Would you do with the Breuer Building?

July 18 – July 21, 2007
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 19, 2007, 5:00 - 7:00 pm.
Location: 1305 Gallery, 1305 Euclid Avenue at East 13 Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Two-thirds of Cuyahoga County’s commissioners want to demolish it.
Cleveland Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt wants to save it.
What would you do with it?
Sponsored by Ingenuity, the Cleveland Festival of Art and Technology, this juried architectural exhibition invites architects, architectural interns, students, engineers, artists and designers living or working in Northeast Ohio (and now beyond) to answer the question. The intent of the exhibit is to keep the debate alive – through both imaginary and real alternatives to the Breuer Tower’s future. Additionally, this exhibit offers area design professionals and others with an opportunity to participate in the Ingenuity festival and to demonstrate how architecture can be the embodiment
of "creativity, innovation, culture and technology."We encourage architecture, engineering and design firms to participate as well as to support and recognize their staff members who participate in the creation of an entry. Firm affiliations will be noted along side the
designer’s/designers' name(s).

To participate, please email
subject line: Breuer Tower.
We will forward the hi-resolution jpeg image to use in the creation of your submittal.

Rendering, using the hi-resolution image of the Breuer Tower
30” h x 20” w - mounted on 3/8” white foamcore, preferred.
We will accept 30 x 20 images rolled in a tube.
Digital jpeg image, 15” x 10” at 72 dpi
Drop off/Pick up:
Renderings must be submitted no later than 5:00pm, Friday July 6, 2007.
Deliver/Send to: D. H. Ellison Company
6403 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102

Digital images must be emailed by 5:00pm, Friday July 6, 2007.
Email to
All work will be available for pick-up at the D. H. Ellison Company the week of July 23, 2007.
Entry Fee: $19.71 Please make check payable to the Ingenuity Festival, earmarked for architecture exhibit
(Fees will be used to mount the show and for the opening reception.)

Faith Baum AIA, IIDA, Principal, Faith Baum Architects, Lexington, Massachusetts; Adjunct Faculty,
Department of Interior Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design
Debi Lacey McDonald, AIA, LEED Architect, DiMella Shaffer, Boston, Massachusetts
Etty Padmodipoetro, AIA, Loeb Fellow 2006, Rosales + Partners, Vice President, Boston, Massachusetts
Maryann Thompson, Maryann Thompson Architects, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Gretchen von Grossman, Parsons, Corp., Boston, Massachusetts
Vicky Sirianni, Consultant, Salem, Massachusetts
Jury policy: Decisions will be based both on quality of work and allowable space. The intention of the
Ingenuity Festival and the What Would you do with the Breuer Tower? exhibit is to
celebrate as many talented designers from the region as possible.
David H. Ellison, AIA
Sally L. Levine, AIA
For more information or to register, contact:
The Exhibit is sponsored by Ingenuity , the Cleveland festival of arts and technology.
Name of Designer(s): ___________________________________________________________
Name of Firm: ________________________________________________________________
Address: _____________________________________________________________________
Phone number: _________________________
Email: _________________________________
Enclosed please include a check for $19.71 made out to Ingenuity 2007 earmarked Architecture Exhibit.
Use a separate form for each submittal.
Thank you.

Jun 21, 07 8:43 am  · 
in the news

and on Bustler...

thanks Paul.

Jun 21, 07 11:58 am  · 

attention Archinect community:

The mapa crew would like to formally encourage participation in this call for ideas about the future of the Ameritrust Tower, sponsored by Ingenuity. We are confident that a demonstration of widespread interest can have a real impact on the future of a project, as we have experienced with the Grosse Pointe Central Library.

If you are not interested in submitting a proposal, please take the time to share your thoughts about the tower's future on this thread and via email to the various parties linked above.


Jun 22, 07 12:00 pm  · 
brian buchalski

i'll be participating...even though i've never been to the building.

Jun 22, 07 3:47 pm  · 
brian buchalski

dumb question, but does anybody know the address of this building? i'm trying to find it on google earth.

Jun 23, 07 10:31 am  · 

It's at the corner of E9th and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. That's the best I can do. An adjacent property is at 1010 Euclid Avenue. If you search the googlemap for that address on Euclid, you can see the footprint of the building with the rotunda on the corner or E9th and Euclid and the Breuer wraps on the southwest side of it and is attached. I hope this helps.

Jun 23, 07 10:38 am  · 

Oh and due to some ridiculousness, E9th is called Rock and Roll Boulevard on Google Maps. We know better -- East Ninth Street is not a boulevard by any stretch. The lower rise building directly to the south of the Breuer is slated to come down, too as far as I know. This would make room for the deconstruction cranes to be used by the contractor who has been chosen to do the work. If they raze it, they won't use dynamite, they will have to take it down floor by floor. This guy has never done this sort of thing before. Oh... and he is under indictment in a neighboring county on corruption charges in the building of their Justice Center. The southern corner sport a recently completed public art project that cost 1.2 million. That will go, too. A bridge over the street (Prospect) connects the buildings to a parking garage. The bridge would go, too.

Jun 23, 07 10:46 am  · 
brian buchalski

oh, sorry, i did manage to find it by carefully re-reading all of the above info. thanks again!

Jun 23, 07 10:48 am  · 

There has been a debate about small floorplates and low ceiling heights. And the windows would have to be replaced to green the building -- custom windows.
These slides from Davis Brody Bond might be instructive as regards building interior issues. I know you don't want to look at someone else's solution, but... these were photographed a planning commission meeting:
Personally I don't prefer wrapping the building in a glass envelope as that obscures its design irreparably IMHO.

Jun 23, 07 10:54 am  · 
brian buchalski

here's an aerial image courtesy of google earth:

and this one is from slightly farther away giving a better sense of context. you can see that it's a couple of blocks north of the baseball stadium:

Jun 23, 07 11:42 am  · 
won and done williams

while i'm sure there will do dozens of different approaches to preservation, i agree with you, millerbowen, it would be a shame to re-skin the building and obscure its "breuer-ness." i think the reskinning idea is an ecological approach acknowledging that the building is not well-loved (at this point) by the community, but not wanting to tear it down because of the wastefulness of demolition and building new. reskinning seems like a gut first reaction, but i wonder what other appoaches there could be made that retain the historical character of the existing building, but also improve upon to make it something that the community can take pride in.

in the case of the grosse pointe central library, much of that process of creating community pride around a civic building was not an architectural issue, but one simply of public awareness; once, the community found out what they had they wanted to fight to keep it. this process may have already started in cleveland.

in the case of the ameritrust building, public awareness it seems will be one component of a much larger response that must be architectural in nature. i hope that what we ultimately see from the charrette takes into account ecology, historic preservation and community awareness in equal measure.

Jun 23, 07 11:59 am  · 
brian buchalski

nice points, jafidler.

i just sent emails to a bunch of friends, colleagues, etc. so hopefully a handful of them will bite on participating in the ingenuity event. maybe some of them will write too. we'll see.

Jun 23, 07 12:58 pm  · 

Green building has finally caught on as a concept here in Cleveland. If someone is in Chicago, you might know that Sadhu Johnston was the head of our Green Building Coalition in Cleveland before he was snatched by Mayor Daly to be the sustainability czar in Chi-town. Those of us in the environmental community here wish him well and revel in his success there, but we feel the loss of his presence here. However, we have his successor, Andrew Watterson and many ever louder voices for sustainable environmentally friendly building here. The commissioners say they want a building that will achieve silver LEED status.

I suggested they go for gold and do something like the Hearst building in NYC atop their existing building which was built to withstand additional floors.

Still, in the words of David Ellison, architect behind Taxpayers Against Waste and the Ingenuity Festival Exhibit, since LEED standards offer similar amounts of credits for retaining the building and putting in a bike rack, we just have to use the fossil fuel waste angle to measure the hypocrisy of razing the tower to build a green building in its place.

Design Rag give s the issue a pretty good argument for saving the building here:

We have also toyed with the idea of seeing the building sold at a Christies or Soethby's auction as art. Rockefeller Brothers Fund bought, moved and is restoring a Breuer house that he built for MOMA in Pocantico. I was sort of hoping that Graham and Aggie Gund would step in and offer to buy it out of danger. Haven’t heard from them yet...

Jun 23, 07 6:11 pm  · 
brian buchalski

finally, some more photos here

Jun 25, 07 2:22 pm  · 
brian buchalski

here's one from the interior lobby...

another from inside, upstairs...

back outside (south side of building, i think)...

upper stories...

Jun 25, 07 2:29 pm  · 
brian buchalski

millerbowen, as our resident cleveland expert, could you fill us in on the other buildings on the block? specifically, i'm curious about the one next to the rotunda and also the building south of the breuer tower. the county bought three buildings, the rotunda, the breuer and what was the third one for their development plans?

Jun 25, 07 2:32 pm  · 

Is anyone in the Cleveland area right now and can go to city hall to get the ground level relief plan? The ingenuity event supplies one Hi - Res image not much else. Ive been checking for old books that may have scalable floor plans - nothing yet. Possible it was archived in inland architect or record or something?

Jun 25, 07 2:40 pm  · 
won and done williams

nice work, puddles. finally seeing some images of building is really inspiring. that lobby is sweet.

Jun 25, 07 2:47 pm  · 

Actually they bought 5, The Rotunda, the Breuer Tower, 1010 Euclid (it's the capital "I" shaped building to the east of the Rotunda), the Prospect Huron Bldg (directly to the south of the tower), and I believe one more on Huron that is adjacent to the Prospect Huron Bldg to the east.

Basically, they propose to raze all the buildings except the Rotunda. There is a pedestrian bridge from an upper floor of the Prospect Huron Building that would also be removed.

If you use Google Earth to search 1010 Euclid Cleveland 44115 or 1025 Huron (the address of Richard Fleischman Architects), you can see the surface parking on Euclid to the east of 1010 Euclid, the alley between the buildings on Huron and how the two Prospect Huron buildings are abutting as well as the bridge to the parking garage over the street.

I have phoned architects to ask for clarification -- they must all be with clients this afternoon. I'll let you know if I am wrong here.

Jun 25, 07 3:37 pm  · 

millerbowen - do you have access to the city's maps and plats room? Should be open to the public. Their you can get a base plan survey or ground plan to scale of the block showing building footprints for a small fee - prob $5. It would certainly help for the ingenuity competition - seeing how they only have (1) pic to distribute.

Jun 25, 07 3:47 pm  · 
brian buchalski

wow...5 buildings. what's the community's sense about saving all five of the buildings? are these being considered as a kind of package deal? or are we really only talking about saving the breuer (and rotunda)?

Jun 25, 07 3:50 pm  · 

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