Architecture in the City: Future of the Ameritrust Tower

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 04/02/2007 - 17:22.
04/03/2007 - 09:00
04/03/2007 - 10:00

Steve Litt and CUDC Director, Christopher Diehl will discuss the recent vote to demolish the Breuer Tower on 90.3 WCPN on The Sound of Ideas. Tune in and call in!

Architecture in the City: Future of the Ameritrust Tower



United States
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The art of politics vs. the art of architecture

Thanks, Susan, for posting this... I tuned in and learned a lot. Thanks to Dan Moulthrup and WCPN "Sound of Ideas" for hosting this forum, and to PD Architecture Critic Steven Litt and new CUDC Director Christopher Diehl for bringing sanity to this issue - and thanks to each and every caller, all in support of keeping the Breuer, showing PD editors are probably wrong in their position about "the fact that 99 percent of those who look at the building find it extremely unattractive"... but mostly thanks to local poli-architect of choice Robert Madison for showing that in Cleveland it is the politicians who get the last laugh and dime. Madison explained that he conducted the study that determined the County facility should not go where it makes sense, in any sense, but at E. 9th and Euclid, because that is "the crossroads of Cleveland"... and now Madison has the contract to manage this boondoggle, saying it makes sense to waste $ millions of taxpayer money to buy multiple buildings that are inappropriate for "the client", and tear some down and replace them with new buildings, and reuse "The Rotunda" for no well articulated purposes, all for location, location, location. Nothing Madison said made sense, except when you realize he has been in on every big-budget public project in recent Cleveland history - the Browns Stadium, Airport, Rock Hall, Science Center, Gateway, the Main Library, public schools, the Waterfront RTA station, etc. Madison projects have filled more landfills with the debris of Cleveland history, and planned more dead space in Cleveland, than anyone in our history. He didn't actually answer any of the questions asked of him during the WCPN interview, but he had answers for everything - plans but no plans for the Rotunda - plans but no plans for the Breuer site - yet he assured listeners he will be true-green... that green is everyday practice for architects these days... not that there is a green thumbprint on anything he has built before, or expressed on his website. Unbelievable how far a silver... er green tongue gets a guy in this region and the field of architecture today. What that gets taxpayers is lots of debt for poor "Group Plans".

Disrupt IT

So Clevelanders really do like the Breuer?

I was listening too. I could not wait to get through the ass kissing (Diehl/Madison) and finally hear what the public really thinks about the Breuer bulding and the preservation of Cleveland's architectural history. It appears Clevelanders don't really think and feel the way that the media says they do. We need to send a strong message to the politicians and the county: Clevelanders do care, stop tearing down important architecture, building  poorly planned,  unattractive  structures and telling us it is what's best and its what we want!

I think one of the most interesting aspects that came up in this discussion is that the Rotunda and the Breuer building - together- represents a unique juxatopistion of Beaux Arts and mid-century modern styles. This could and should be an asset to the owner/developer of the complex, and it is an asset to Cleveland. The Eastern quadranats of the East 9th Street - Euclid Avenue intersection are facinating -- why would we want to loose that? Cleveland has destroyed far too many buildings. We should be moving into an architectural recycling phase instead of just continuing the demolition.

A contining thought on the Breuer issue

A continuing thought on the conversation posted here.

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 urban 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). We 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. Someone please connect these dots for me.

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 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 some of 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 afternoon croquet matches. I'm imagining, but it is what I can do given that no transparency in our power structure exists.

Talk about tax abatements  -- it's OK to make oodles of money and then find a tax shelter with a polished face in giving it away as philanthropic activity. I guess. Be sure not to cross a philanthropist, (you may never get a dime) they are doing good, but didn't they do well to be able to do good? Aren't we just pawns caught in the crossfire?

Talk about Pollyanna, I guess we're all Pollyannas in this game. Only a few vestiges of Rockefeller exist here today, more of our history is sure to walk away as well. We have an obelisk and a sign on Rockefeller's grave in Lakeview. He left us a tip.

Maybe it is time for us to turn these tables and seat a new customer. Hopefully the new customer will order something healthy. Maybe not.

If you're visiting from the recent past

There is much more discussion here and elsewhere regarding the Breuer Tower.


Ways to celebrate preserve

Seven Decision-making Principles for Major Redevelopment Projects

Cleveland City Planning on Breuer Teardown

Government Watchdog Group Gets $1000 from Anonymous Donor

Breuer Building On World Monuments Watch List

Cool Cleveland Offers Another Proposal For The Breuer That Is Better Than Current Plan

Art Of The Day

Taxpayers Protest County Commissioners’ Spending $32 Million to Create Empty Lot

Breuer Review Contracts Allocated Contrary to Common Sense - Typical For Neo

Steven Litt Says County Is Going Wrong Way and Must Stop and Consider Other Prospects

Look Familiar?

Pull Out All The Stops

Tear Down The Post And Save The Breuer?

CUDC Gets Neo Rational About Serious Architecture - Albini, Just In Time

more from our compadres Tim and Gloria Ferris

Word on the Street vs. Fact

The World Is Watching…

interesting dialogue brewing over Breuer Tower

trotting out our heritage, in detail

and from Dru McKeown

Cleveland Trust Tower at Treachery of Images Studio Blog

the saga continues...

For those who have stated that there is little protest about the razing of this tower, read and learn. The most recent quote from our City Planning Commission Chair, Anthony Coyne, "We don't get it in Cleveland," Coyne said. "In downtown Chicago, they would never tear this down."

If you care to write to our city planners, and newspapers, the email addresses are here:

The County Commissioners
Peter Lawson Jones Commissioner
Phone (216) 443-7182
Fax (216) 443-6667
Email: CNPLJ [at] cuyahogacounty [dot] us%20
Timothy F. Hagan Commissioner
Phone (216) 443-7181
Fax (216) 443-6668
Email: cntfh [at] cuyahogacounty [dot] us%20
Jimmy Dimora Commissioner
Phone (216) 443-7180
Fax (216) 443-6669
Email: CNJCD [at] cuyahogacounty [dot] us%20

county discusses tax hike

Found this in the Tipoff section of the PD yesterday obcured by the leading headline Rock Hall gets a cash bonus.

Taxing issue:

County commissioners are set to begin talking about a quarter of a penny tax increase Tuesday, when it will be their meeting agenda. They're likely to set up some public hearings on the tax hike, which would fund capital projects such as a new convention center and proposed medical mart project. Looks like Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, who opposes his colleagues and their plan to tear down the old Ameritrust tower, isn't on the same page on this issue, either. "I have grave misgivings about imposing a tax," he said. "At the very least, people should vote on it."

If we are in need of a county tax hike to pay for economic development, maybe the county workers should stay put in their current offices. Aren't the taxpayers in Cuyahoga County taxed enough? Here's where the county administration complex hits you in the wallet and Tim and Jimmy seem to be planning to just slide this one quietly in on us without a vote. Thanks for the heads up Peter Lawson Jones!

  Susan--here's a little present for you this year.  Breuer coverage 10th most blogged place.