Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 07/22/2007 - 12:22.

The IngenuityFest public outreach efforts of Sally Levine  and David Ellison are intended to prevent Cuyahoga County from demolishing Cleveland’s Marcel Breuer designed Ameritrust Tower.    Ms. Levine and Mr. Ellison present a “Right vs Might” poster boy case of passionate public citizens who are “right” going up against “City Hall” “might”.   Except in this case it isn’t “City Hall”,   but “County Hall”.  


But County Hall has a problem.   The   demolition plans of Cuyahoga County Commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora for  the Marcel Breuer Tower have reverberated around the globe via the internet.   The wasteful, provincially minded, ignorant intention of Hagan and Dimorath  to demolish the classic Breuer building will get no support from anyone outside Cuyahoga County, while the effort to save the Breuer has already (and will continue to) inspired informed persons across the US, Europe and beyond. 


That’s why I believe we have an excellent opportunity to save the Breuer - and in the process show that Cleveland is not entirely full of dead heads like Hagan and Dimora -  it’s just that North East Ohio has let dead heads  take over in public office.


We’ll have to wait to replace our folly prone elected public servants – but we don’t have to wait to use the internet to reach  globally for financial support to underwrite a local lobbying effort to reverse the decision to demolish the Breuer Tower.  


The Lobbying efforts should be conducted under the aegis of a local 501 C 3 non-profit to allow maximum tax benefits to prospective financial donors.   I ask the RealNeo audience to make suggestions as to relevant (historic preservation?) non – profits who would be interested and are appropriate to allow  the Save Breuer Tower  campaign to advance under the organization’s auspices.


Neither the Cleveland Foundation nor the Gund Foundation has stepped forward in support of the Breuer effort.


And, if there is a County wide campaign to collect signatures to put the quarter cent tax hike proposed by the Commissioners on a ballot,  that signature drive should also simultaneously collect signatures to force a vote on the demolition of the Breuer – especially since demolishing the building and then constructing a new office building will cost 30 million or more than renovating the Breuer.   County tax money will be squandered if the Breuer is demolished.

In the next few days the digital files of each of the concept plans submitted to Ms Levine and Mr. Ellison – seen on the wall in the photo above - will be available on Realneo. 

Let's continue to lend our internet skills, public outreach,  ideas, and appreciation to the cause Sally and David have championed!








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And Ellison's design is genius

This show is abut the coolest exhibition in NEO since the Green Home exhibition at CIA last year, and more important, in that it was grass-roots, viral and absolutely unique! Most important, it showcases how poor are the concepts and designs created by whatever bogus process the commissioners used, vs. the ideas of really creative and sophisticated people attracted to this competition. Ellison and others proposed to place awnings on the first flor, E.9th street side and that is genius - bring that street to life. I can't wait to see all these designs again online and to add to this movement - props to all who are championing sanity, arts & culture around the Breuer issue!

Disrupt IT


Are the asbestos figures true that were given in the PD article?  If they are true, I cannot support keeping the Breuer.  Public health is way more important than bad architecture.

Derek Arnold

In this Forum, the asbestos

In this Forum, the asbestos issue is addressed by Professor Elwin Robinson during the Q&A. Go to the Forum website and open the link: Love It/Hate It? Renovate It/Raze It? A Public Forum on the Breuer Tower. The sections are separate, so you can go to each one and then return to learn more.

The adaptive reuse of the building will actually save money because the asbestos in the sections of the skin/outer walls while abating all interior asbestos. If the building is deconstructed, asbestos abatement in the outside walls will be very costly especially as relates to any materials that might become airborne as the process proceeds over an extended deconstruction timeline. Add to that the credentials of the Carbone Construction company (which has never done a project of this type/magnitude and I would bet that the dangers associated with asbestos might become even more dire. (You can or have read about Carbone's buildings here in other posts).

We can encapsulate the asbestos in between the inner and outer walls (an abatement technology) and remove the fireproofing and interior asbestos much more safely and cost efficiently than we can scrape/suck every bit of it out, off before land filling the building.

Most experts I have heard even at the Cleveland Planning Commission have said that the asbestos issue is a nonstarter.

Let's have your next objection so we can respond to that one. I have been educated in the process of saving this tower; I am happy to share what I have learned and to find out if I don't know and get back to you.

You seem...

You seem really combative about this tower. Why?

I don't like the non-transparent process that the County has been using but that would be consistent for any building, especially something historic like a Group Plan building or a Euclid Avenue mansion. But this tower? Bleccch.
Derek Arnold

for art, for environment and for wiser government spending

If you "don't like it" and want to tear it down because of your aesthetic, then I submit that your vision is as limited as those who tore down the victorians they felt were out of fashion in the 1950s. Now we have no Millionaire's Row to drive architectural tourism as economic development. What is it they say? Hindsight is 20-20?

But then your environmental moral code has to speak up and account for the waste of all the concrete, granite and structural steel that will be lost -- all the embodied energy that went into the building in the first place.

You will have to answer your moral compass that knows that jobs are needed here in our region and damn it by saying it's OK to throw away a building and purchase the steel for the new building from another country because no structural steel is made here in the US anymore.

Then you will have to pay for it (well not you because you do not live, vote or pay taxes here). The price tag? It's at about $35,000,000 so far.

Then you will have to contend with the fact that after 35 million, all you have is an empty lot and it will cost much more to build a building on the site. Keep digging deep in your pocket and don't be shy about asking the people of the poorest city in the nation to dig deep too.

There is a better way. The commissioners have not revealed it. They have not and will not consult their own planners. Why?

While you're pondering this question check this out (from the deed for the transfer of the properties to the BOCC): Richard E. Jacobs will have not one but two plaques in perpetuity on the ground level of whatever building is at that corner.

$22 million is not enough -- we have to pay for this too...

I don't appreciate...

If this is the tone with which you approach activism, don't be surprised when you don't draw many adherents.

I don't pay because I don't live, work or pay taxes here. What do you think I do on this site? Every day, people like Carl and myself get up and keep this infrastructure running. If there weren't, you'd have to go somewhere else to express your opinions.

I think your implication that I haven't paid dues so my opinion somehow matters less than yours is, quite frankly, bullshit.I grew up during arguably Cleveland's worst historical period. I am the product of black and white suburban flight. I am the product of Cleveland Public schools (post-Remedial order and pre-city takeover). I am the product of dedicated honors program teachers with short resources and good parents who didn't have either the resources or desire to move. I am the product of forced busing and tax abatements for Gateway, the BP Building, The Galleria, Tower City and other projects that took (and still takes) money from the schools. I am part of the first class of students subjected to the Ohio Proficiency Test which has become a tool to narrow the education of young Ohioans everywhere. I have taken all that Cleveland has thrown at me and I still exist. Cleveland owes a lot of people. Cleveland owes the next few generations more than it gave mine. People of my generation are used to thinking of Cleveland as less than a prosperous place because it's hasn't been such during out lifetimes...and people wonder why I hate Reagan and Voinovich so much. Though there's much contempt and frustration, Cleveland was home when it wasn't en vogue to be I can say whatever I want about it.

Your implication that I don't understand historical preservation is also false. I went to John Hay High School, for God's sake. I think that I am among the alums of that great school that is happy to see that it was kept intact and remodeled. Sure, it took longer than many wished but it was well worth it. John Hay High School was built to be a school. It was engineered as a monument to education. For some reason, not too many years later, many buildings stopped meaning something and just became gravy trains for well-connected construction companies. Useful architecture never goes out of style. The Euclid Ave. mansions should have never met their demise even though they weren't the "latest and greatest". My uncle had his wedding reception, the first wedding I was ever in, when I was 8 years old in Mather Mansion. I still have reverence for that building.

Also, if you think I am picking on the Cleveland Trust Tower, you are mistaken. There's another tower downtown that has outlived its usefulness and it has the letters C, S and U on it. It should REALLY be replaced. Cleveland needs to think smaller, like Youngstown has. We aren't the 1.1 million person city that we were in the 50's. Our processes need transparency but every building is NOT worth saving.
Derek Arnold

20 year old wedge issue.

Jacobs group abatements come off in 2010; yes it has almost been 20 years.


The school board is down sizing they are closing schools. 


I am going to make a suggestion for them and here it is. 


The west side of Cleveland needs a High School, Lincoln West and Max Hayes could be combined into one school.  The area of service would be west of 117th to the river and from the lake to I-71. 


At West 46th and Clark is Thomas Jefferson Junior High it is closed, the city and the Board should consider the area for a centralized campus.  It could build a large campus and it could stretch from I-90 in the North and to Hyde ave in the south.  From W44 to W46, the area could include a recreation center and also the 2nd district police station. 


Consolidation of facilities and facility staffs, it should be a campus and have green space. 


ODOT could create a large deck/ bridge across I-90 creating a central corridor to connect Lorain and Clark; an RTA station could be constructed at Turn Ave, that section of Lorain has nothing on it the entire block is empty.    The north south street would connect to the marginal and 44th and 41st could be converted to two-way traffic.    Most would choose the new corridor for access to the interstate.   


Much of the area is densely packed Victorian bungalows; some of the homes could be moved to fill in vacant lots that are throughout the surrounding areas.

From W25th to W65th on Clark needs consideration it should be primarily commercial and it is.

The same length of Lorain should be more residential, town homes and storefronts with rentals.


Consolidating into the center would create good dynamics, the entire region needs an inventory of manufacturing and some should be relocated into open spaces in industrial parks. We have some and they do have open spaces.  If the trade school was relocated that being Max Hayes, then also the small amount of light industry could also be relocated that is a large section of lake view property on Detroit.  Lincoln West at 3Oth is in proximity to a large shopping district. I could be developed in alignment with that. Basically between 25th and 46th could be high density shopping and retail as well as low cost rentals units.  For Lorain it should have higher rents and prices it should be less commercial and more eclectic. 


Low cost homes should be built around the school and also the county hospital and also have shopping and very good police monitoring.  


The city need to reduce redundancy, a campus consolidates functional jobs and reduces costs.  The Zone recreation center relocated to the campus, the Clark recreation center as well.  Police and Fire stations.  


The state would pay for most of this and RTA, the funds are there.   The revenue from all those abatements will be coming off Jacobs will be handing the school board at least 1.2M every year, the city has the responsibility to make the system better and also more efficient.  

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