Friday, December 29, 2006

J. Milton Dyer's Coast Guard Station

Local leaders are not consiously demolishing a landmark, like the Cleveland Trust Building; rather, the City of Cleveland is simply ignoring the old Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and allowing the stunning structure to deteriorate.

See a recent Plain Dealer article here.
See past BOTC post + links here.

The building, desinged in a similar, yet toned-down, expressionist manner to Erich Mendelsohn's Einstein Tower, should be saved for many reasons:

1. The Coast Guard Station is one of the few, if only, expressionist buildngs in the region. The melding of European styling with American pragmatism is very unique to this usually architecturally conservative part of the country. Mendelsohn's Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights also shares a similar formalism.

2. The building was designed by one J. Milton Dyer, a true tragic character in Cleveland architectural history. Dyer was known to intensely design splendid buldings, such as the Coast Guard Station and Cleveland City Hall, and then proceed to go on weeks-long benders in Cleveland's seedier haunts. Out of his office came the greatest Cleveland architectural parntership, Walker + Weeks.

3. The building and site can serve as an anchor in the city's lakefront planning. Although a lakefront plan was proposed (and trashed thoroughly by local and international designers alike), other plans are percolating that should utilize this amazing structure. If Cleveland wants to emerge as a "Design City," a crucial first step must involve the rescuing of this building.

2007: The Year of Design in Cleveland

Props to Design Rag . . .

Thursday, December 28, 2006

BOTC: Time's Person of the Year

Time Magazine has designated you, me, all of us, as persons of the year.


We are transforming media and the dissemination of news, opinion, and information.

We here at BOTC have posted in the past about the role of blogs and the like. We still stand by those sentiments.

Old media is fading away.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

BOTC New Year's Wishes

Um . . . yeah.

It has been really slow around the BOTC in the past few months. Teaching and working will do that to a blog. Yet nonetheless, I make a resolution to post much more often than the later half of 2006. I know you (all 10 of you) are thrilled.

Since we are entering 2007, I would like to propose a wish list concerning architecture + urbanism in our fair city of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio:

1. The success of the first annual Cleveland Competition.
This competition idea sprung from some young local architects who are seeking to inculcate "design" into the physical, political, and professional fabrics of the city. These young guys are trying to begin marketing Cleveland as "Design City," to a potential international pool of competition entrants. Good for them--they are making strides where the impotent AIA cannot. Look for the publication of the guidelines in January or check in at or

2. The success of Cleveland design firms.
In order for the "Design City" to happen, local designers must be successful. In order for local architects to be successful and creative, they must have clients who believe in the value of design and the exhilaration of that speculation. Although BOTC has local allegiances, the health of the region and the city will be apparent through the productivity and growth of all our Cleveland practices.

3. The Design Wisdom of Local Politicians.
Cleveland and Cuyahoga County possess some of the most dim-bulb political leaders in the United States. Let's hope that the likes of Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and Mayor Frank Jackson, major design decision makers in the region, become educated about what constitutes successful and awful design. Fellow Democrat, the enlightened tough-guy Mayor Daley of Chicago, understands the potency of good design and urban stewardship. Maybe he should sponsor a seminar our "leaders."

4. The Continued Evolution of KSU CAED.
Kent State's College of Architecture + Environmental Design, or simply Kent Architecture + Design, is engaged in a pedagogical evolution. KSU students are slowly emerging from the object building + site trope and are beginning to engage + re-construe the many contexts + flows + networks + forces that influence the making of structures, infrastructures, and spaces. BOTC hopes that within a few years, Kent will begin to intellectually compete with in-state rivals Ohio State, Miami, and Cincinnati.

5. More design emphasis in the Plain Dealer + local media
As BOTC has stated before, Steve Litt fights an uphill battle as the only critic in town. BOTC wishes for more design criticism from Steve in the upcoming year. But BOTC also wishes for some alternative criticism from the likes of Angle, Pressure, WCPN, Applause, and the Cleveland Free Times. A "Design City" also needs a pestering set of ankle biters for provocation, besides BOTC, Design Rag, TOI, and Improvised Schema.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Since the last post . . . .

Posting has been slow recently for no particular reason, like the Browns offense. But since the Browns won on Sunday and will surely demolish the Steelers on Thursday night, I decided to post.

Recent architectural happenings in Cleveland to keep your eye on:

1. AIA Cleveland sponsored a competition for a new awning for the chapter offices on Huron--the boards were due on Friday to Cleveland Public Art. Word is that participation was extremely low. Interestingly enough, no architects will be on the jury--just leaders from many arts institutions around town, like CMA, MOCA, and Cleveland Public Art. It will be interesting which entries will be favored.

2. Public Square Studio at the Kent State's downtown CUDC will be presenting their work to a distinguished jury on Friday (8 December @ 2PM), including architects, professors, and landscape urbanists from New York, Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago. BOTC looks forward to the discussions not only about speculations about Public Square, but also the future constitution of American common space. Student speculations have engaged the development and deployment of spectacle, intellectual grazing fields, and intensity-density derived flow armatures and programme displacements.

3. OC (Ohio City) Studio at Kent State CAED will be presenting their speculations to a distinguished jury on Friday also. Students engaged with the rich contexts of Ohio City, proposed a master planning of the entire neighborhood, and then have developed parcels and programmes.

4. TOI studio has speculated about the re-use of the hundreds of pre-cast panels from Marcel Breuer's Cleveland Trust Building. The building, which will be demolished because the county administrators do not like so-called "ugly" architecture is slated to be demolished in the near term. Cleveland architects should advocate for the salvaging of these panels for alternative uses.

5. Foreign Office Architects, in association with Westlake Reed Leskosky, will be designing the new Cleveland MOCA. BOTC looks forward to seeing the development and design process of such a progressive international practice working within the very provincial quarters of our fair City.

6. Coop Himmelblau's Akron Art Museum will be opening soon in downtown Akron. Let's hope that the crew from FOA spends more time in the area, unlike the Coop boys who were rountinely no-shows for Northeast Ohio cultural events. The Akron Art Museum is likely to be criticized as mere empty-formalism, albeit structurally spectacular. BOTC thinks FOA will present a more didactic architecture.

That's it for now.

Go Browns. Beat Pittsburgh, which like the University of Michigan, is a bastion of evil.