I am fascinated by an architecture story right now. The Ameritrust Tower (known as the Cleveland Trust Tower until 1979), a landmark building in downtown Cleveland (my hometown), is going to be destroyed next year. Cleveland’s city planners approved the tear-down last Friday.
The Ameritrust Tower. Photo borrowed without permission from cleveland.com.
The Ameritrust Tower was designed by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith … it’s a standard-bearer of brutalist architecture, a style known for moulded concrete facades. Built in 1971. 29 stories high. A gloomy spire that rises not too far into Cleveland’s all-too-frequently gloomy sky. (Scraping the sky is easy when clouds always hang low.) Filled with asbestos, too. (Have fun tearing it down, guys!)
I was very bummed when I read the news. This building is simultaneously eerie and creepy and beautiful. I can’t quite pin it down. Could be the curves of the inset windows. Or the unceasing repetition of forms. Or the foreboding shade of its concrete on a gray day. Might be it’s monolithic totality, yet complete lack of narrative; looking at it, you have no idea what it’s meant for, or what it’s occupants are meant to do. Its cornice has an enigmatic cut out shape, like a window to outer space. And it’s been vacant, I’ve been told, for the last 16 years.
Cleveland Trust’s logo
from the 1970s. Bitchin’.
If only I had $22 million to buy it two years ago, when the Cuyahoga County government acquired it.
I could have put my studio in there and filled up every creepy floor with hundreds of creepy paintings inspired by corporate logos from the 70s. It would be the Museum of Creepy Paintings.
Destroying this building is not the first time someone from Cleveland has fumbled the ball.
It was Breuer’s only skyscraper. If I were Breuer, I’d be pissed.
For more on the story, as told by more competent narrators:
- The backstory, on Wikipedia
- New York Times’ coverage
- Coverage from The Plain Dealer (Cleveland’s newspaper) … and you have to read the comments!
- Photos on clevelandskyscrapers.com
Happy June 34th, everyone!