Landmark or Eyesore?

The New York Times has an interesting profile of the 29-story Cleveland Trust Tower, located in, uh, Cleveland. Built in 1971, it's the only skyscraper ever ...
by | June 20, 2007

Clevelandtower_2 The New York Times has an interesting profile of the 29-story Cleveland Trust Tower, located in, uh, Cleveland.

Built in 1971, it's the only skyscraper ever constructed by Marcel Breuer, one of the fathers of modern architecture. It's been abandoned since the late 1980s. The layout is cramped, and the porthole windows are dated and provide poor insulation.

Cuyahoga County bought the skyscraper in 2005 (along with five adjacent buildings, for a total cost of only $21.7 million).

Now the county wants to tear it down. Two of the three county commissioners voted to raze the tower and build in its place a mid-rise county government building. 

But the county's proposal has sparked an outcry among preservationists, according to the Times:

"It's like saying it would be O.K. to lose some of the paintings that Picasso did that weren't his best work," said Louis R. Pounders, a Memphis architect and member of the design committee for the American Institute of Architects. "Anything that's done by someone of Breuer's stature has merit on its own."

Preserving modern buildings is a tricky business, as my colleague Chris Swope has written about in Governing and on the 13th Floor. Sure, you want to preserve structures that are noteworthy or architecturally significant, but it can be hard when they're so ugly dated aesthetically challenging.

Zach Patton  |  Executive Editor
zpatton@governing.com  | 

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