Friday, August 31, 2007

What are you doing this Labor Day Weekend?

This flyer has been sent my way to 'get the word out' about this must-see Labor Day Weekend event.

Courtesy of our fellow friends at Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, "Building on Our Heritage," will open to the public today and tomorrow to celebrate the historic Cleveland Trust Rotunda at Ninth and Euclid.

I need not say more.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"PV'd" that Cleveland THINKS Solar... and not a whole lot more than that

This one nearly missed me, and to tell you the truth, reading it made me furious (a newsbrief in this month's Architect Magazine):

"As part of its effort to accelerate the creation of advanced solar electric technologies, the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Initiative has named 13 Solar America Cities: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, Calif.; Boston; Madison, Wis.; New Orleans; New York; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Francisco; and Tucson, Ariz. These cities are now eligible for funding and technical assistance from the DOE as they develop local initiatives for the adoption of solar-based power technologies. Learn more about the program at"

The initiative by USDE and the healthy list of participating major American cities is tremendous, HOWEVER, am I the only Clevelander who feels betrayed by Northeast Ohio electorate, business leaders, and foundations for not positioning the City for federal funding in the proliferation of solar-power?

After a recent swell of solar in this town:

1. the hosting of this year's National Solar Energy Conference
2. an Ohio Department of Development study (pdf) released this summer that suggests a strong commitment from state and federal sources could turn Ohio job losses into a competitive advantage in the renewable-energy industry
3. excessive media coverage on the installation of new PV arrays at Jacobs' Field and the Great Lakes Science Center
4. Cleveland Foundation and Gund Foundation institute new policy of "award capital grants only to building or renovation projects that seek LEED certification"
5. the "one megawatt challenge"?
6. and how about GreenEnergyOhio, E4S, Green Building Coalition, EcoCity Cleveland, and others who's goal is to make Cleveland the green city on a blue lake
7. and not to be forgotten, the freshwater windfarm

Of course, I am not mistaking 'action' with the lip service and feasibility studies (partially referenced above) for a future (sustainable) Cleveland - but I admit that I can be led blindly into manufactured optimism for opportunities to a reawakened economy.

How far has Cleveland REALLY come the last few years that it has not ensured a position on this list?


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Politician Spotted at Mall C!

In related public art news, this afternoon, "The Politician" sculpture was spotted on Lakeside Avenue on the southwest corner of Mall C - curiously situated between the Cuyahoga County Administration Center, Cuyahoga County Courthouse, and County Justice Center buildings.

Witnesses observed the sculpture now selling "Cleveland's Finest" corned beef sandwiches for the mere price of a 1/4% more than the average corned beef sandwich. "Rumor is that the extra cost will fund something really awesome," said John Buday from Parma. County Commissioners have released a statement saying that they hope to eventually raise the price of all corned beef sandwiches County-wide 1/4% by the end of the year so that they can build a stadium, or something.

And just when it was thought that the large spinning wheels couldn't move the super-sized pull toy an inch in any direction...


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The [Cleveland] Politician: A Toy

Via the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog, WCPN reported last Friday that the whimsical "Politician" sculpture will be moving to a new location in the not-so-distant future.
"The Politician: A Toy" has become one of Cleveland's more recognizable roadside icons since its installation at Chester Avenue and East 66th Street in early 1996. The forty-foot, satire-laden mechanical sculpture was designed by artist Billie Lawless and financed under Cleveland Public Theatre with contributions from private sources and placed on private property (thus avoiding opposition from then-Mayor Michael White and roadblocks from city departments).
With the current site for sale, a non-profit group is negotiating its move to another home - a "more pedestrian-friendly location." Which, of course, begs the question: Where should "The Politician" be relocated? (more to come shortly)


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Urban Mushrooms

From Icon Magazine May issue, graffiti with an architectural edge:

"Czaplicki, also known as 'Truth', moved on from traditional graffiti materials after seven years of tagging. His first experiment with unconventional materials used white polystyrene, creating fungus-like shapes. 'I felt I was putting nature back into the city. I was very influenced by the forms of Donald Judd and Russian constructivists like Malevich, so in some ways my idea was to create a sculpture but change its context,' he says. 'I think of them as urban mushrooms. They look like a natural part of the city – sometimes I really can change a building, but in most cases they’re little signs.'"

These abstract forms have been applied to the facades of empty buildings, industrial estates, and homes predominantly in southern Poland. (images from

Cuyahoga's "American Courage"

I continue to be amazed by these tremendous ore carriers as they traverse the Cuyahoga from river's mouth to steel mills several miles south of Downtown. Pictured is "American Courage", over 600 ft long, built in 1979 and operated by the American Steamship Company. American Courage carries iron ore pellets, coal, and limestone.

Among the others frequently spotted on the Cuyahoga are the American Republic, City of Buffalo, and Sam Laud. Surprisingly, these are the shortest of the American Steamship fleet. Some Great Lakes vessels exceed 1000 ft in length and can discharge 65,000 tons of iron ore or coal in 10 hours without assistance from shoreside personnel or equipment (Lake Carriers' Association)

A recent concern of the local shipping industry and municipal agencies has been the decreased dredging of the systems' shipping channels by the Army Corps of Engineers (which amounts for several feet shallower depths in the Cuyahoga River in some instances). Limited funding for regular dredgings [pdf] and overdue replacement of the aged, failing shore piling (in Cleveland, much of the bulkheading was installed during FDR's presidency) is suggested to be primary to the problem.
As expressed by James H.I. Weakley, President of LCA, to a House subcommittee this year, the shallower shipping depths requires each carrier to hold less draft. The 63 U.S.-Flag vessels working the Great Lakes lose more than 8,000 tons of cargo each trip when forced to trim just one inch from their loaded draft. "Those 8,000 tons of iron ore not carried could have produced steel for 6,000 automobiles. Those 8,000 tons of limestone not carried could have been used to build 24 homes." (Lake Carriers' Association)[pdf]
In unrelated recent ore carrier news, earlier this month a life ring from the carrier Edmund Fitzgerald (operated by Cleveland's Oglebay Norton) which sank 32 years ago in Lake Superior may have been found ashore Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


Sunday, August 05, 2007



Saturday, August 04, 2007

Breuer Tower Exhibition at Ingenuity

The "What would you do with the Breuer Tower?" architecture exhibit concluded with the closing of the Ingenuity Festival at Playhouse Square on July 21st. In remarks from curators David Ellison and Sally Levine:

"We asked a simple question. The answers, both individually and as a group, are clever, quirky, serious, complex and simple. But the overriding answer is that the Breuer Building has relevance.

Those who responded to the call for entries have offered fresh and engaging visions for the Tower. From as far as Australia, Dubai and Italy, architects and designers have presented thought-provoking, sustainable and socially relevant themes.This exhibition responds to the bold proposition by the political establishment to raze the Cleveland Trust Co. (Ameritrust) Tower, a 36-year-old, 29-story building designed by the significant Modernist architect, Marcel Breuer."

To view the entries, click here and here. Architecture critic Steven Litt and GreenCityBlueLake respond to the exhibition.

Upon examining the site, one can't help but think that as appropriate a question as "What would you do with the Breuer Tower?" is "What would you do with the balance of the County property should the Tower and Rotunda remain?" Consider that avoiding the Tower, Rotunda, and the building at 1010 Euclid Avenue there remains a large enough footprint on County-owned land to build another building the size of Key Tower (63 stories).

While the County continues to consider the financing and construction of a new Medical Mart and Convention Center, the Administration Center project at the former Cleveland Trust site will be delayed - in the meantime, expect conversation on the controversial proposed demolition of the Breuer Tower to continue.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The Design Rag has fallen a bit out of the blogging universe recently. Okay, so maybe it has been completely neglected... for nearly three months...
Welcome back.