100 years ago - more than Quality Construction - SCULPTURE

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 16:48.

The cast in place concrete coaling tower in the 6.20.09 image above hasn’t been used for more than half century – and probably hasn’t received any significant surface maintenance since it was constructed about a century ago.   Yet the tower is still structurally sound, and shows no cracking, spalling, or rusting rebar.  
This is the type of “form following function” historic structure that should be protected and preserved.   In this case total lack of attention has done that job.  
Today, with all our "improved" construction testing and building technology, much of the civil concrete work is of very poor quality.  Today, the concrete suppler often starts the degraded construction process by cheating on cement, and the form crews finish off the degraded construction by placing the reinforcement too close to the surface of the forms.  
Maybe you will get 10 years out of sloppy concrete work.
Compare today's 10 year life  to  the 100 year life -  with no maintenance - for this Akron, Ohio coaling tower.  
We’ve come a long way (backward) don’t you think?
 Ohio Trespassers .com  has more images of the tower, On Google Maps the location is   Eastwood Ave at East North Street, Akron. Here is a 1978 view from the upper track (from the web site Railpix). Using the upper track, single coal supply cars were gravity dumped to feed the conveyor which fed the coaling tower. Here is a 1954 photo of the tower from Akron Railroads / Google books.  Coal fired steam locomotives were just about out of commission in 1954.  


coaling-tower-akron-ohio-P1.jpg125.29 KB
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History - Vision - Hope


Absolutely.  It's true. 

Too often, in today's world, we focus on shortsighted deadlines and quick, turnaround profits.  Inevitably this can lead to disaster, like the one currently being experienced here in Atlanta; where a recently built concrete parking garage partially collapsed, crushing a slew of cars.  Thus far it seems no one was killed, but as you can imagine the death toll could easily reached 100.

Will this be a wake up call?

In Atlanta as well, the Downtown Breuer Library that I've been seeking to preserve is made of cast concrete and glass over a steel frame.  A couple years back when we experienced a tornado that crossed right through downtown, the Library suffered no damage, even though other buildings in the area incurred hundreds of millions of dollars worth of destruction; including the iconic Peachtree Plaza, built by one of America's most prolific architects, John Portman.

The tower that you write about here in this post is as much a utilitarian structure as it is a site specific sculpture.  In my view, the structure is a tangible piece of Cleveland's collective experience that should probably be included in some sort of curriculum or tour of the city.  In other words, this tower can be seen as a capital asset that might be featured in a brochure or promotional postcard at the city's welcome center or airport.

Every thread helps to weave together the history of Cleveland; sharing a unified vision while leaving a legacy of hope for future generations.