Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 14:18.

This is what’s wrong with how Cleveland and the County run their “business”. 


“The architectural team of Kohn Pederson Fox of New York and Cleveland-based Robert P. Madison International recommended tearing the Breuer building down and will design the new building.”  (got this quote from starting at FreshBrewed and then going to Jay Miller from Crain’s Cleveland who pulled from Cleveland vs The World.)


How can Robert P. Madison be impartial when their company's bread is soon to be buttered with the money from the contract to design a new building?  There should be separate contracts issued for 1. Evaluating the feasibility of maintaining the present structure, and then when that issue is decided, 2. a separate contract to either design the rehab of the existing building or the design of a new building.  


The entire process to date should get thrown out.  (But go ahead with the Asbo removal)


I will bet a dollar to a donut that the amount of money Madison will receive from designing a new building is a considerably larger amount that Madison would receive from a renovation.  Who has these numbers?


Here is what you MUST RECOGNIZE : NO CONTRACTOR WANTS THE LOW BID!   Every contractor wants the  HIGHEST BID.  Only the public benefits from the low bid.  But 99.9 % of the time the public doesn’t attend the hearings and  relies instead on their public representatives to look after the publics’ financial interests.  That doesn’t work, because the public representative also want more money flowing through their departments – money brings power and expanded authority and more staff.

Litt has been masterful dealing with Breuer, not that it helped

Props to PD Architecture Critic Steven Litt, who has attacked this issue as a lone sentinel, in the paleface of the enemy, raising the call to action again and again. Bottom line is this is Hagan's baby - Lawson-Jones is on the conservation side... it seems Dimora is covering Hagan's back and doesn't really care.... who will they name this monstrosity to be after, anyways?  Public/blog response is "ugly building, who cares." Missing response is "I'm an environmentalist and I care about embedded/embodied energy." Who here is really an environmentalist - who speak of embedded/embodied energy? There is a posting on this subject at GCBL, here, without a clear position on the subject. Someone will make huge money demolishing Breuer. Another will rake in cash on new concrete... the iron-workers union will rivet and weld - lots of new steel - PROGRESS!?!? No. Typical for NEO!?!? As you say, yes. My vote is to save the Breuer - and thanks to Litt!

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yes jeff

and this is why we need a calendar of all government meetings. I went out of town for three days and spit spot, decisions made and demo beginning. Where oh where is that calendar of meetings on the blame city and/or county website? I suppose you could find it with a drill and a jackhammer. Ed Hauser has proved that doing this work is a full time job and anyone making a living has to be willing to have two fulltime jobs; one to pay the taxes and one to watch them going up in smoke. Voices and choices? Not really... Belive in Cleveland? I doubt it. Yes, Norm Litt has been masterful. He deserves a medal, but I'm sure letters were written. Where are they? In a file drawer at the county with copies in a file drawer at the PD?

Better organized citizen journalists and a calendar

You got it, Susan - we need to activate and empower an army of well supported citizen journalists and the content they creat needs to be every where - good technology and print. And the community needs to interact with that with things like making sure everything is on the calendar, and people are getting organized - carpooling - and it is all right. We can do that with a combination of the technology power we are building and the publishing power the founder of the Lakewood Observer has developed. I've been talking to him and suddenly realized we can work together to bring realneo and lots of other bloggers to print, and pay - see

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The following comment was entered  originally in a Breuer Building County expenditure discussion on FreshBrewedDaily

I agree with Susan Miller and I share her outrage regarding our "leadership" which dispenses our tax money without adequate public explanation and in direct contradiction with  economic reason.  I am not concerned either way with the looks of the building.  The appearance is not relevant to us as taxpayers.  What is relevant is whether or not the County is minding our store.


Doesn't the BP Tower on Public Square have enough empty space in it that the County could lease it up for 50 years?  Instead, the county will issue a new bond to fund the 200 million (? how much will the new building cost?) new building and that new bond debt will put the County further behind in its competitiveness vis a vis other counties and other states.  Who will benefit from the issuance of the bonds : banks, brokers, and the designers and builders. 


So who has run the numbers:  What would a 50 year lease in the BP cost over its life (the BP would pay real estate taxes back to the county), and what will the cost of  purchasing, demolishing, and building and maintaining a new building (which being publicly owned will not pay taxes)  , and paying the interest off on the bond be?  Show me this study County Commissioners…Show me the study that calculates how many new businesses WILL NOT LOCATE in Cuyahoga County because of the higher taxes that a new bond will force on the County. What is the dollar value of this lost new businesses opportunity?


JetBlue is set up at the Canton Akron Airport (CAK) rather than at Hopkins because Hopkins is so much in debt (1 Billion) that just to service their debt Hopkins has to charge gate fees much higher than CAK.  Public debt drives away business and population.  Does Cuyahoga County have the financial fortune to be able to squander 200 million on a new office?  I don’t think so.


Yet Cuyahoga County continues to take on goof ball debt for sports complexes and now a new home office.  Didn’t Mr. Jacob own the Breuer Tower and sell it to the county?  The property was sold to the county just because real estate lease rates are too low in Cleveland to justify owning or building a new office building.  So Mr. Jacobs bailed. 


This is the perfect market for the County to take a long term lease in an existing downtown office building, not burden struggling County taxpayes with more debt .   Show me the numbers that support building a new office tower Mr. Hagan and Mr Dimora…I’ll bet you don’t have them, do you…

Breuer let's consider aesthetics

There is no denying that Cleveland government and planners are lame when it comes to making architectural decisions. Luckily they have mostly inhabited old buildings built in Cleveland's heyday, but if you are interested in what the world's best architects think is among the world's ugliest buildings check out this story in Forbes: The World's Ugliest Buildings. I won't spoil the fun of clicking through to find out which building put Cleveland on this list, but suffice it to say it isn't the Breuer (Cleveland Trust) Tower.

I do think they missed by not including the Great Lakes Science Center. This shot from the lake side is more complimentary than the eyesore we mostly view during a drive by.

But the carnival feel is just so "bean and wiener" it definitely fits right in between Rock Hall and Browns Lakefront Monstrosity. This is not Navy Pier even though the architecture seems to aspire to be more than that. Before you know it they will be moving to let Stark recreate Crocker Park on the old port site or on Burke Lakefront. It would fit right in to this joke of an architectural playground. Maybe a putt putt golf course is in order.

In San Francisco, bloggers are taking up an LA contest for the ugliest building. We have a few we could toss in for our own contest. Breuer is not one of them in my opinion. And to the guy who thinks we will attract more young people if we tear down the Breuer Tower (like this would be the key to brain gain), my 19 year old son is appalled that the tower is coming down. He loves the architecture in Chicago and it has given him a fresh eye with which to view the stunning architecture we have here. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Cash is in (or out of)  the pocket of the earner.

Well said...

You are right on all counts. The big box developers are scheduled to get that part of the lakefront - and the plans are pathetic. They picture a real 9 hole golf course on Burke. It is all quite silly, but so is everything else you mention in your posting, and in the lakefront plan, and on the lakefront today, except for Ed's Whiskey Island!.

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Breuer Building. What's the alternative?

What does the alternative look like?  Does anyone have a rendering of the proposed building?  In my own neighborhood, a local non-profit plans to demolish a building representative of Brooklyn Centre's historic character.  Their proposed alternative is a parking lot and  benches decorated with ceramic memories of the doomed structure.  Sad.

Improvised Schema shows alternative

Improvised Schema seems to be the only place one can view the alternatives: here.

So this is what will replace the Tower. It looks sketchy to me, but then this in not unlike the rest of the process revealed to us by our esteemed county commissioners. We are told that this will be a green building, but no specs have come out as far as I can find. I see no solar panels, have not heard of plans for cogeneration of heat or radiant floors, no plans to augment the building's energy needs with wind; it doesn't look like a green roof, no onsite stormwater management. It looks like a high end mall to me. If these green elements are there, it sure would be good for the commissioners of the new county sustainability hire Joyce Burke-Jones to come out with them. So much for our history, there will probably be a picture and a plaque, maybe an explanation somewhere around a corner in the Rotunda to address the demise of the historic Tower, home to one of Cleveland's important financial institutions, but otherwise the memory will be wiped away like the rest of Euclid Avenue's history. These commissioners will go down in history like those who allowed the demolition of Millionaire's Row; wiping the slate clean for their egos. Will this new county office mall be called The Timmy and Jimmy Center? Could be...


I believe this is the mess they propose

I found this rendering and others on the "Improvised Schema" blog, and I believe this work of sophisiticated design and planning art is by the architects chosen for the new county building... or is this the primative drawing my 9-year old daughter made to illustrate her nightmare last night about her anxiety over the wretched world we are leaving her?. Nope - this is the work of real live professionals. I picture three offices in the front rotunda building... Hagan will have the dome on top, Dimora will own the wing to the right - Lawson Jones  the wing to the left, unless the others delegate him to the basement for disenting on their vote. Where everyone else goes doesn't seem to matter to anyone... not like they are having planning discussions or gathering public input. In any case, you can tell from this fine and detailed rendering that the commissioners really had the architects work through their design proposals before making the $200 million decision... note the headlights going in the wrong directions down E. 9th... they've even figured out how to reverse traffic to make this happen. As for the region thinking green... this proves it ain't so.

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I know that I am going to take a beating for saying this, but the proposed replacement for the Breuer building may not be that bad--as long as the building has windows that actually open to let in a breeze on a nice day.  Speaking as an anonymous public employee who lives/works in a building with windows that open and windows that overlook the everchanging vista of Riverview Cemetery--I think that county employees might want a building that lets in light and fresh air...if that is the intention.  The Breuer building does tell a story...Wirth House tells a story in my neighborhood.  It all depends on the viewer.  How important is the Breuer building's story or Wirth House's story? We shall see.

I agree about windows that open... let's open all the windows

There are places where people should have windows that open... not that there are many places where they do, or where the air is safe to breathe. My windows at the Caxton opened and so much nasty dust blew in it wasn't good to open them. But having well located space is great, and a view is great.

Nobody has been in the Breuer in 15 years or so so I don't know if it has good light, or good air circulation, or anything else good. I guess my position is this is one important architectural remnant in the world that is in NEO and it is about to be destroyed, without sophisticated consideration. That is enough grounds to look for broader perspectives. Hagan wrote his epitaph with "I don't care what the public thinks", in so many words. Architecturally important building... public officials who say they don't care about public opinion... enough reasons to fight. Personally... I like the Breuer.

Regarding Wirth House... I went to check it out today. It is clearly so much more important than the silly little Quonset Art Hut next door it is laughable - WW2 surplus tin shack vs. one of the finest slate tile roofs I've ever seen, on a fine Victorian with clean lines, nice architectural details and great proportions, all adding to the character of the neighborhood... yes, modern, ignorant owners have done their harm, but the core is excellent, and the building looks in great shape... from the outside.

Like with the Breuer... what's on the inside? Great wood trim - pocket doors - wide heart of pine floors? Probably yes. Time to open the doors on this property, and on the decision-makers of Art House... just like with the Breuer.

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Cleveland Trust has a story

Cleveland Trust Tower’s story would not be complete with out a familiar name: George Gund, II.


Read about the Gund Family here and here.  George Gund chaired the board of Cleveland Trust for a quarter century. Cleveland Trust ultimately became Key Bank.


Here is Carl Stokes’ version of the court case between Cyrus Eaton and George Gund.


In 1999, Graham Gund gives Harvard one million for Design School which features among the works of other architects, Marcel Breuer.

“The new department will draw upon the scholarship, collections, and archives of the Harvard University Art Museums and the Harvard Design School to develop collaborative programs and exhibitions. Together, the extensive holdings of the Art Museums and the Design School include original drawings and plans, architectural models, design objects, faculty and student projects, and archives of distinguished faculty and practitioners including Josep Lluis Sert; Marcel Breuer; Walter Gropius, who in 1969 donated to the Busch-Reisinger Museum more than three thousand prints, drawings, and photographs documenting his architectural work from 1906 to 1946; and Le Corbusier, whose only two buildings in this hemisphere, the Curutchet House in Buenos Aires and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, are uniquely documented in the Design School's special collections.

The $1 million gift from Graham Gund will be used by The Harvard University Art Museums and the Harvard Design School to establish the Graham Gund Exhibition Fund, which will support a wide range of architecture and design exhibitions to be presented at both institutions. The gift comes from one of the country's foremost collectors of contemporary art and president of Graham Gund Architects, an architecture firm of national renown. Deeply committed to the arts, Mr. Gund holds many leadership roles including trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He has served as a member of the visiting committees of both the Harvard Design School and the Harvard University Art Museums. The Gund family have been longtime supporters of the Harvard Design School; major gifts toward the creation of George Gund Hall - which opened in 1972 and houses the Harvard Design School - came from the George Gund Foundation and the Gund family.”


Among the faculty at Harvard School of Design: Marcel Breuer.

Among the graduates: Graham Gund


Agnes Gund was president of The Museum of Modern Art since 1991 and is currently President Emerita. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1938, her mother used to take her to Saturday morning art classes at the Cleveland Museum. Her father collected western painting. She was only 15 when her mother died, since she was the oldest she had to help take care of the five younger children. Her father was George Gund, Jr. He was president of Cleveland Trust Company for twenty five years. He made a lot of money when he sold his rights to Sanka Coffee. Agnes has always been interested in art. She once had a twelve foot high steel and lead baseball mitt on her front yard in Greenwich. She was elected a trustee of The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1976. In 1977, after New York City budget cuts eliminated art classes in the public schools she founded the Studio in a School Association. It brought artists to New York City public schools to help children develop their own sense of art at an early age. The program even helped raise the reading scores of the students. Ms. Gund was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1997. Agnes Gund is married to Daniel Shapiro, the lawyer, has four children and lives in New York City.

Ms Gund is Chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, New York and a member of numerous charitable trusts, including the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, NY.

Ms. Gund is quoted here on her philanthropic stance.


The tower was built in 1971.

“The tower's entrance is located on East Ninth Street, though its address is listed as 900 Euclid. The facade of the structure is composed primarily of black granite and concrete window forms which create a distinctive presence on the downtown skyline. The southern facade features a "cut out" on the tower's cornice. The original plans for the tower included a "twin" to be constructed on the site of the 1010 Euclid Avenue building. Those plans never materialized - however the existing tower retains infrastructure which would have been utilized by tenants in the second phase.”


I wonder why the project was not completed, the second tower not built. Maybe you can do this research, Laura, on the CPL databases or maybe someone who lived here then knows…

Crazy traffic

Thanks for the information on Improvised Schema.  Who designed this?  Crazy traffic scheme.  Are the Brits behind this?

If local developers and bosses don't get Breuer, go global

The global art market is booming - there are paintings selling for more than Cuyahoga County paid for both the Breuer and the rotunda building. Now that there is very serious wealth outside of NEO and America, and little creative wealth in NEO, it is time to start selling the best of NEO to the highest bidders in the world. The Breuer stands out as one of few truly globally interesting buildings in the region, which would attract an appreciative architecture collector.

There was an interesting talk at the CIA, in November, 2004, on "Object and Icon: The Farnsworth House as Architectural Collectible", where architecture historian Irene Sunwoo, from London, England,  reflected that the controversial Farnsworth House of Mies Van der Rohe, 1946 - 1951, was sold in 2003 as lot 800 in an auction at Sotheby's, for $7.5 million. The winning bidder was the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, which will now operate the house, hailed as an architectural masterwork.

We need to be so creative with the Breuer. Some sophisticated developer interested in fine art and architecture would surely love to own one of Breuer's most important works - despite the fact we do not have such sophistication here. So let's promote that our county bought a great property they don't appreciate and see if we can not only save the property but turn a profit for the county - the county can use any old building for what they need to deliver... throw them in with Stark's new development or on any of the other 100 parking lots around downtown.

Odds are such an open, global process - an auction... hell, sell it on eBay - would bring to NEO a great new investor - perhaps a high tech genius from Russia, India, China or Argentina - use the Breuer as the lure to attract real innovative wealth, progress and distinction. Throw in the Coast Guard Station as a buyer's-bonus, and get that away from poor Cleveland planning. Requirement of buyer is to restore to the federal standards applied to all landmark properties.

What to put in there??? The Kent School of Architecture and the Urban Design Center would be something cool - the CIA inspired Industrial Design Center - something appropriate to the calliber of the structure, related to arts and culture, rather than government offices seeking efficiency.

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great idea Norm

This is the type of innovative thinking we need here and how much you want to bet that this sort of good idea goes unnoticed by the shortsighted in our locality? Maybe Stephen Fong and Chris Diehl have the know how to collaborate with David Deming, Dan Cufaro and Ned Hill to utilize the building for industrial design, new media and the Cleveland Urban Design Center. It would anchor the collaboration right in the economic center of our city -- right where the capital needed is located. It would link the design district at its western end to the money needed to capitalize the creative industries we need to support in the region. Wow... art architecture and design come together with preservation and green building. Did we lose the number for Davis Brody Bond? Did we choose a local (rather than regional -- Erie, PA) local connection for some reason? Weber Murphy Fox (the regional partner for the Davis Brody Bond plan which saves the tower) has been awarded for their work on the CSU Rec Center (a building I can tell you from working in it for nearly two decades had numerous challenges) from the Cleveland Engineering Society. Not to throw shade on the very talented Robert P. Madison firm, but maybe we need to think more regionally when it comes to contracts. Of course, why Kohn Pedersen Fox and Madison were chosen was not revealed to us. Why the requests for proposals did not require saving the tower wasn't clear either.
CSU's award winning new Rec Center -- Weber Murphy Fox.

School for the Arts + some Case, CIM, CIA, CSU, Kent and MoCA

The more I think about this the more I see the opportunity to put an arts and design masterpiece in this Brutalist architectural masterpiece. We need more visual arts attractions and new schools downtown, and more purpose to the schools already in Cleveland. The Breuer is a block from Playhouse Square and CSU - on the "Silver Line" and so mainlined into University Circle - so let's make this the heart of the downtown arts cluster. Move the CSU arts school there... they need a better place... move all the Case arts programs there as well... they need more room to spread out. Put the School for the Arts there - they need a better place... turn the old building over to Case for something they want to do, like the Montessori High School they just announced, without a home. Move the Kent Schools of Architecture and Center for Urban Design there. Put CIA's Interior Design, Industrial Design and Future! Center there. Put a museum there... if MoCA wants to make a smart move, they can ditch the whole Triangle idea and put their $30 million into the Breuer landmark - Foreign Office can design MoCA's space there and how it interconnects with the surroundings. The county can use their sin tax money to help out with all this, and keep their current offices where they are or move into some vacant lot somewhere near our government center, by the Justice Center and courthouse...  have Mason design that for them there.

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Ooops... need to spend $500 million on Art Sprawl

Funny, the PD today announced secret planning over the past year for CSU to build an arts complex of three theaters (we need so many more of them around here) and a glass-house artists' studio (actually, described as a Dairy Queen ice cream cone design) for $50 million (yes, artists do need $50 million studios to create art) - clearly this is needed on top of the $50 million CIA needs to spend on exactly that, a few miles down the ol' Euclid Corridor, in The Triangle - on top of  $40 million for MoCA to spend next door - around the corner from the $40 million Cleveland Institute of Music... and $250+ million Cleveland Museum of Art - don't forget $40 million for the Natural History Museum, which will surely become an "educational" institution - haven't seen the Case Western Reserve University arts and culture facility ask yet, but surely it is "secretly" coming -  don't forget Cuyahoga Community College , as arts is workforce development - Oops... forgot about Kent moving to town (as we need them to do, to help stop this insanity)... need $40 million for that.... all as CSU sits in a tanked real estate environment, next to something called "Playhouse Square", with many globally-important theaters that sit empty most of the time, down the road from the Cleveland Playhouse, seeking purpose on a hospital campus surrounded by slums. Yes, community leaders have realized arts and culture are important, so let's spend $500 million on that... try $1 billion, and spread it thin everywhere, creating a new concept called Arts Sprawl. If it was smart money spent well, cool. Imagine $500 million spent growing our arts economy really well, and then think about where we will be after 5 secret plans suck that dry. Hello - shrinking city! Think regional - think GREEN - think smart development... listen to the Gund Foundation about sprawl and think about how you are wasting your money, and who you turn to for more. Stop working in secret and wasting money and stick a fraction of what is about to be wasted sprawling art and invest in our downtown work of art - The Breuer - and start growing this economy with what we have. Please.

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wonder if these will be green

With this announcement from Gund and Cleveland Foundations this morning, I wonder if all the above mentioned buildings will be green. They have not defined what they mean by this as far as I know, but it may remain to be seen -- there are varying degrees of LEED certification. Will they be greening the buildings they occupy? Will we see them investing in insulation, cogeneration and reducing waste in their own facility operations, leading by example as the city is doing?

It seemed ridiculous to me that the Cleveland Museum of Art was not slated to be a green expansion. What the hey? I agree that any new buildings should be green, but too bad they didn't announce this years ago. Better late than never.

Where is there a list of local green buildings and what makes them green and who built them?

Madison who has hired one person to oversee this issue for the Breuer replacement (good plan dude! one guy, wow!) might need these examples as he plans for the (wait and see) EXTRAORDINARY new icon of county guvmint.

So who is the Green Expert for the County building?

I heard Madison mention they have someone hired just to focus on greening the new County facility, as he cast aside concerns about embodied energy and the certain negative impact this project will have on the environment, for the life of the planned new building. It would be interesting to see confirmation who Madison has hired - the name of the person and his/her contract terms - considering the only rendering shown of what Madison et. al. have planned with the County is a very crude sketch, it seems worth digging into the reality behind everything about this project...

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urban sprawl

You mention the CSU theater project and I have to add this compilation of buildings underway, recently completed and proposed for everyone’s consideration. There's a whole lotta money bein spent in bean and wiener town...
Check out the pics at Skyscraperpage.
Improvised Schema has picks of the new ice cream cone building in this post titled A New Dairy Queen for Cleveland

Lots of interesting stuff there about our built environment.

(Jeff you must be reveling in the number of comments that are flowing from your timely post about Breuer out there in Boston!)

Can we do a roundtable to meet the new guy at the CUDC since there is so much stuff being built and planned? It might be a good chance to see what he has on his mind now that he has been released from the massive URS Corp. Per your comment about ass-kissing, Evelyn, I am acquainted with Chris Diehl and think he's pretty cool. He does have a family to rear and when you work for a big company, sometimes you can't be so outspoken. Maybe now he can talk with us about what he sees for the future of our region. I know he is a regionalist (lives in Akron), he did a major part on the Ideacenter adaptive reuse deal with Westlake and is very well spoken and polite -- plays well with others. Maybe he'd like to know what is happening at the Hough Bakery. Maybe David Reed has already filled him in. Still I thought the event with Steven Fong was great. I'd be thrilled to see another event at the CUDC to meet the new guy.

our built environment at the mercy of banks

This morning's conversation on WCPN will continue apparently with discussion of Public Square tomorrow morning. I have asked WCPN to research and tell the story behind the building and all the bank building projects. Researching this cursorily just now, I found this in the Wikipedia.

The question was raised for me, why do we have the empty space on Public Square?

Wasn’t there a bank planned for that space? Is Cleveland at the mercy of banks (Ameritrust) that change their plans midstream when it comes to their architectural development? 

“Incongruously, a parking lot now faces the northwest quadrant of the square. A 12-story building, which was built on the spot in 1913, was demolished in 1990 to make way for the new Ameritrust Center, and 1,197-foot skyscraper designed by New York's Kohn Pedersen Fox.[1] But before construction could begin, Ameritrust was acquired by Society Bank, which was also planning to construct and subsequently relocate to a new building on Public Square — the Key Tower (formerly known as the Society Center). As Society did not need two skyscrapers, plans for the Ameritrust building across The Square were scrapped.”

Are we doing this project out of some sort of obligation to Kohn Pedersen Fox? What did their original plans for the Public Square lots look like and why couldn’t the county use them? Reduce reuse and recycle plans.

Hunter Morrison has said that during his tenure, he was finishing plans that were delayed by the depression. Are the Public Square plans which were delayed worth revisiting? Should we reduce, reuse and recycle these plans?

more thoughts on Breuer boondoggle

We have lost the Huletts, a major part of Cleveland’s industrial history; we have lost Millionaire’s Row, which could be a bustling tourist attraction. We lost the streetcars which could be used by commuters who currently clog the roadways while we attempt to reconstruct a method for their commutes along Euclid, with no promise of connecting them to the thoroughfare via other RTA routes that reach easily to the residential areas in inner ring suburbs. All the while, we move pieces around on the air, soil and water quality map for EPA attainment (while we’re miles from attainment). They tout that this will be green building, but what about green planning? People are sick with poor air quality and lead poisoning while, our schools suffer and our central city neighborhoods sink deeper into poverty, and the commissioners want a new building at the expense of a piece of art history after they just chose to enact a tax to encourage smoking to support art? What are they saying? We like art or we think artists will be the point of departure for the economic recovery for our region, so if some die for that then so be it? Issue 18, county encourages lung cancer to promote economic vitality… hmmm.

Why continue this razing; this desire to erase our history be it a symbol of doing good or doing well at the expense of others?

It is said hindsight is 20-20. Is foresight blind or visionary?  We still have not accomplished the policy objectives of Norm Krumholz’s visionary underpinnings for equitable planning that would take Cleveland’s poor into consideration while 20 years later the city continues a downward spiral of poverty. Now the county commissioners want a high dollar admin building housed in the former footprint of the resource sucking and redistributing bank that handled the money of these blue collar workers? It seems incongruous. Three democrats acting like high rolling republicans. They might better consider how they can shrink government in this shrinking city/region. How they can do more with less and how they can help us to understand where we have been what was good and what was not and how to learn from these lessons? Maybe it is time for reconsideration and a turnaround. Maybe it is time for more people to throw up their hands and submit to the powerful backroom dealings in our opaque government in partnership with the very wealthy, those very wealthy whose tax dollars support outlying counties where their high dollar homes are nestled into the last vestiges of greenspace where they pour chemicals onto their green lawns for Sunday croquet matches.

But while we’re on the subject of outlying counties, aren’t we just beginning a discussion of regional government? Will the Breuer Tower come down to be replaced with a glass edifice (an oversized mirror) for the commissioners only to abandon it when government shifts to better appropriate resources regionally. Is this location, location, location selected based on Clevecentrism? The “crossroads” of the nation Madison referred to is at the mouth of the Cuyahoga or somewhere along the towpath trail I believe. What’s the hurry? Will we be merging county governments in 5 years and needing another new seat of government in Independence or Fairlawn?

We talk and talk about collaboration, but the innovation corridor that is well beyond our endless waiting is between LorainCCC and AkronU. These formerly considered poor relations (cities in our region) are pulling ahead with vision and agility like their Youngstown colleagues, while the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Port Authority and City of Cleveland leaders mince around playing by old rules, unable to think outside the box or beyond the comfort zone. Say it isn't so, that Akron, Youngstown and Lorain are not ahead and will not be ahead -- can't be -- never were... Then look at Case who tossed aside Ed Morrison only to watch as the important regional discussions of economic development and planning and policy shifted to CSU and YSU long considered the poor relations.

Let's get some breathing room on this. I haven't seen any county workers without offices lately, have you?

Cuyahoga County website position on Breuer...

I was curious what the official record was on the Breuer, so I did a search of the Cuyahoga County website for "Breuer" - no results... the very word has been excluded from their discussions... there are 12 results there for the word "barrier". In Google searches for "Cuyahoga County Breuer" many other links come up, including at the County Planning Commission weblog, but that doesn't have search capabilities so there is no internal way to find details.

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no comment

Yep, we're dumb. We taxpayers can't possibly understand the reasons they have for making this move. We must all be preschool kids cause we can't read and we can't count.
They must be saying, "Why have a public process, they trust us to do good with their money, right? They are too stupid to be able to comprehend what cool things we have in store, besides, we have kept them out of the process so far and have been able to keep their objections under the radar, makin' it look like Steve Litt is off the deep end all by himself."

So Tim and Jimmy, wus^ on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in April (Fool's Day)? Imagine...

Jimmy: Ay, who, whassup?
Tim: Nothin', B, watchin' the game, havin' a Bud. Whassup wit'chu?
Jimmy: Nothin', watchin' the game, havin' a Bud.
Tim: True, true.

It must feel pretty good to have such a large sum of cash to use when you play SimCity. Got the newest version?


Following is a copy of a letter Tim Ferris sent to the Commissioners. 

Here's the kicker: "The current county administration building was designed--and constructed, at additional taxpayer expense back then-- to have additional floors put on top, and it has foundations designed to bear that load, and I believe there is also space for an additional bank of elevators. We knew one of the architects (E. Furman Korb) who worked at the firm that designed it in the late '50s, and he has made this fairly well known throughout our circles."

So the County taxpayers 50 years ago put money in the bank by building high capacity footings under the present county building - anticipated growth.  And the Commissioners ignore that option - and buy from Mr. Jacobs instead.  How pathetic... READ TIM'S LETTER:  Write one of your own.  Print out the Realneo discussion and Mail  the print out to the Commissioners  Return Receipt Requested to be included in the official record.  Like Guthry's Allison's Restaurant - make it a MOVEMENT!

Jimmy, Peter, and Tim--

Personally, I do not see that taking down the larger, fairly new Breuer building and constructing another, newer, smaller building on the site makes economic sense. I have not been convinced that this is in the best interests of the people of this county. This is not a beauty contest about ugly architecture; you guys are entrusted with the stewardship of our assets, our resources, both now and into the future. You need to think not only in terms of conserving dollars, but in terms of conservation of energy, on a continuum (the carbon footprint, prior, present, and projected in all scenarios).

I still need to know why county government is expanding so that it needs additional space at all, let alone this grand scheme you're concocting with a demolition and a grand rising from the rubble of something new and glorious. The current county administration building was designed--and constructed, at additional taxpayer expense back then-- to have additional floors put on top, and it has foundations designed to bear that load, and I believe there is also space for an additional bank of elevators. We knew one of the architects (E. Furman Korb) who worked at the firm that designed it in the late '50s, and he has made this fairly well known throughout our circles.

Moreover, given technological advances and the ability to steamline functions, I wonder quite often, as do many other constituents, why all of our government entities continue to expand. Soon, everybody is going to be saying we can't afford you guys any more. This may be a world of infinite abundance, but you don't keep getting if you show time and again that you're wasteful.

It's time to conserve. Let's start by hopping onto that Third Wave (we saw Toffler in Youngstown last month) with the responsible, wise way you handle the Breuer situation. I want to be able to be proud of my county once again, and I haven't felt that way for a good long while, like about 40 years.

Tim Ferris
Investment Advisor Representative
4022 Denison Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44109-2648

The County should view Breuer like Whiskey Island

The County Commissioners had the wisdom to purchase Whiskey Island to preserve that for the public good into the future. That was wise. I don't see why the County can't look at the Rotunda and Breuer the same way - protecting an important historic landmark for the public good, for future generations. Wise buy - the largest work of art in Cleveland, and two nice buildings, for what will in hindsight be viewed as a steal. Encapsolate the asbestos and put the building right into use as the arts center of downtown NEO. Have CSU put their art programs there, etc... it's explained somewhere else in this string. The point is they can all save face in this reinterpretation of their position - eventually, the building/complex can be sold for a profit for citizens.

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Follow the Money$
Something is amiss, because the Commissioners considered purchasing 3 different BUILDINGS ON THESE properties:  Higbees in the Terminal Tower (from Forest City), May Co on Public Square, and Breuer. 

Now one would intelligently assume that if the Commissioners where looking to buy a BUILDING, their intention was to use a BUILDING - not buy a BUILDING and tear it down.  There is lots of space in Cleveland for a new tower - why in the world would the commissioners want to buy a building - AND TAKE IT OFF THE TAX ROLL - which has clear renovation capability - and then pay to tear it down? 

Something is really wrong here.   How much did Mr. Jacobs receive for the sale?   The only logical explanation for the Commissioners to buy a building they knew - or should/could have known  - they were going to tear down is that there is corruption. 

That's what happened at Hopkins - Park walked off with 65 million dollars for the IX when it's assessment was half of that.  Corruption. 

If the PD doesn't have the perspicacity to figure this out, maybe the Realneo community does.

The commissioners need to explain the financial sense of their actions or be VOTED OUT.


When is the deadline for filing for the next Commissioner's office election?


BRUTALIST is appreciated in these photos - mostly buildings in Canada.  "Swiss architect Le Corbusier can be blamed for the name, taken from the French words for "rough concrete" (beton brut), which doesn't translate very well into English. To some degree it is an appropriate term to describe some Brutalist buildings, which often feature windowless blank walls."  (
quote from)

Plain Dealer Editors offer their $0.50 worth on Breuer

In one of the PD "Editors" sweeping Mother Knows Best lead editorials, "let the tower fall" it is declared that "Commissioners' vote for new county center on Ameritrust site makes sense economically, practically and aesthetically". As it is an especially weak editorial, with no basis in reality, it is not worth refuting the PD "Editors" claims line by line... like with the title, as we cannot "let the tower fall" by any stretch of the imagination, as it is full of asbestos and in too tight a space for implosion. But one aspect of the PD's royal proclamation really sticks out as absurd... as an economist I am always interested in statistics and the PD can be quoted writing about "the fact that 99 percent of those who look at the building find it extremely unattractive", which I'd like to see documented. I was down in that neighborhood yesterday and looked around the side of the building and it is quite stunning... it was simply blighted by Dicvk Jacobs and now is blighted by the County. I think the problem with this situation is the county wants to put the wrong things in this building, rather than do smart development elsewhere. I stick to the position that large-egoed commissioners love that E. 9th street and Euclid address and the idea of big fancy offices in the Rotunda, and let all else be damned. In a shrinking city, with lots of land available for smart development in any area of the city - and county - for the county to say "this is where we will build, with your tax dollars, for all the wrong reasons", instead of asking "where shoud we build with your tax dollars, for the greatest positive impact of all kinds" - that is the question. The PD Edictors don't get this question, as they ask themselves how they ended up in McMansions in the suburbs, rather than in our great city, and then seek to destroy what they missed in their lives....

Stick the county offices in one of the abandoned Malls around the county, or on land banked property seized in all the sheriff sales.... or in the old Higbee's Building on Public Square, or Halle's, or May Company, or Erieview Plaza... anywhere but on the County-blighted site of one of our only internationally important architectural landmark buildings ever. Duh.

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