EYE OF THE BREUER STORM

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 07/08/2007 - 10:54.

 

If  local eyes are shut to the value of the Breuer,  perhaps this iconic eye of the Building will be recognized  by a sophisticated developer as one reason to remove and reassemble the stone and precast concrete elements hung on the steel core of this 1970 structure.

 

 

A few weeks ago I went to the Marcel Breuer Building in Cleveland, Ohio before dawn.  There’s a tight little alley on the south side of the building, with a pedestrian bridge several stories up connecting the Breuer on the north side of the alley with the parking garage on the south side of the alley.  The public sidewalk at the head of the alley was so hot from the steam pipes under it that I couldn’t stand on it with my tripod.  So I went into the alley. 

 

The sun was about to hit the Breuer, it was 5:30am.  The alley had the usual Cleveland detritus strewn about – a sleeping bag under the gas meters in a dumptster alcove.  Unused loading docks behind vacant ancient buildings with rusty iron fire escapes rising up the brick wall above.

 

The Breuer, also vacant for years, maintained its reticent nobility.  

 

You think it’s ugly Mr Hagan?  Mr. Dimora?  Go in the alley at dawn and check it out.  The black polished stone façade – which hasn’t seen a wash for years - still reflects the neighboring buildings as if the stone had just been attached.   And when you look at the shiny black stone surface of the Breuer, and see from the stone the reflection of the neighboring Cleveland  building across East 9th,  the idea (recently expressed by the Plain Dealer, Dimora and Hagan, Cimperman, and many others) that if you don’t like the exterior appearance of a building, then  that is a reason to voice for its removal – will strike you as about as ignorant as racism.  Architectural Racism. 

 

It is the exterior and interior appearance of the building – the stately Breuer appearance which Cleveland Trust bought when they commissioned Breuer to design the building.   The structural steel core, the single pane glass, the foundations which don’t meet today’s seismic criteria (neither do the foundations of the adjacent parking structure which the Commissioners Hagan and Dimora plan to keep), the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are all expendable to the Breuer design. 

 

So if the building must be demolished because our local minds aren’t erudite enough to know it’s value, is there a demolition contractor -  perhaps from Europe or Dubai or China – who will bid to remove all the Breuer features and put the building back up elsewhere?   The reassembled building would have instant flare and fame.  (or a downtown Cleveland landowner directly adjacent to the existing Breuer could install new foundations and the building could be moved laterally – that’s what happened two weeks ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts – Harvard University moved 3 large buildings on their Law school campus. I’ll post photos here soon)

And selling the Breuer for re-use elsewhere would put Hagan and Dimora back on the right side of sustainability - wouldn't it make Cleveland look good!

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PROJECT MANAGE BREUER DISEMBOWLEMENT

PROJECT MANAGER for Marcel BREUER disembowelment

 

The breadth of the internet has only global bounds (at this time), so if there is any party interested in the "Remove and Re-install" (R&R) concept which I have described above for the Breuer Building, I am offering my expertise and services as an on-site project manager for the one year job.   References in heavy rigging, construction management, and demolition on request.  Better yet, let's rehab it in-situ - but you'll need everyone but Peter Lawson Jones on Meds.   Mr. Jones is to be complimented for his wisdom and gumption in holding his ground and voting to save the Breuer.  Mr. Jone's position distinquishes him.

I believe this is more amazing than it appears...

Many years ago there was a brutal building in New Orleans - the HQ of John Hancock Life Insurance - which was in an awful location, but it had a Noguchi which was not even factored in as an asset in the transaction... the buyers got a masterpiece sculpture for free. The building and sculpture were bought by K&B drug stores, for their HQ, and having a Noguchi encouraged one of K&B's owners, Sydney Besthoff, to become the most important visual arts patron in that region in decades.

Now, in Cleveland, we have some unsophisticated owners of a sculptural masterpiece that is a building, and they are in denial about that, because the owners, personally, do not appreciate arts and culture. Of course, we all know government has no love for arts and culture, as our nation's leadership sold-out the entire arts and culture capital of New Orleans, since Katrina. But others in the world certainly do care!

I do not think it is practical to move the Breuer, in part or whole, but it is practical to find another owner to buy the complex to own the masterpiece, and the County should expend all the energy of the current owners to find the right buyer who will appreciate the masterpiece and wants a building in the financial district of Cleveland. The County doesn't belong there anyways, but other businesses and organizations do, and some have leadership interested in arts and culture.

So, rather than seek a buyer for the skin of the Breuer, we need a buyer for the entire Breuer and surrounding buildings, with the assurance the County will sell to any buyer able to finance the project and committed to the preservation of the public art of the region.

Disrupt IT

Is food art... culture

I remember Mayor-X Campbell's first Arts Summit, which we all found so exciting... until Jimmy DiMora's opening remarks set things straight - something about how he doesn't know anything about art or culture... just food (as he rubbed his belly). Lot's of steak dinners later, at XO, with Carney, and the public gets the demo of what you, Jeff Buster, are documenting better then ever in history is a very artful building. No, we cannot appeal to the Commissioners to show class, but must appeal to the public to demand commissioners who show class.

Besutiful photo, Jeff!

 Disrupt IT

amazing dichotomy

They don't know art and they can't do the math. And all this they want to call sustainability.

Dear Tim and Jimmy -- Since you're elected, if you don't know, ask someone. There are numerous art and architecture folks of renown in Cleveland and the region. We even have green building experts -- even the one you hired doesn't agree with you. Ask your planners, they'll tell you it is a bad idea.

This building is beautiful and just because Dick Jacobs let it sit empty is no reason to destroy it -- it is art and it is a lot of building.

Where are the letters from the arts community? Did you write a letter? If you did send a letter to the commissioners, the Cleveland Planning Commission or the PeeDee and it was not shared, PLEASE login and share it here or email it to Steve Litt at the PeeDee, and he will post it.

Here is the very hidden blog at cleveland.com where you can respond or you can just email your love letters to slitt [at] plaind [dot] com. You can share your thoughts anonymously there if you don't want anyone to know what you think, but if you're reading here, I hope you have become educated enough to know that the building's aesthetics are not the issue, that the building is a valuable architectural resource for the city and that if the BOCC tears it down, we will just look like we didn't care enough to protest being robbed.