Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio

Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio
Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio

This 15-story State of Ohio office building — designed by a local architectural team consisting of Fred Toguchi Architects, Madison-Madison International and Ireland & Associates — is a skewed black mass that marks the jagged edge of downtown Cleveland’s skyline as it towers above the Flats of the Cuyahoga River below.

Completed in 1979, the office tower was named for Cleveland politico, judge and Mayor, Frank J. Lausche, who became Ohio’s elected Governor on five different occasions throughout the 1940s and 1950s, followed by two terms in the U. S. Senate. Lausche was considered by many to be a truly original, independent or maverick politician — a classic small-d Democrat.

The tower that bears his name consists of rhomboidal office floors (dictated by the building’s triangular site), clad in uninterrupted black glass with vertically ribbed mullions, and hoisted aloft by heavily punctuated lower levels of light granite. Those lower levels accommodate the building’s spaces to the steeply sloped site by means of terraced floor levels and ramping.

Containing 458,000 square feet of office space within its 204-foot height, the Lausche Building houses over 1,300 state employees of myriad agencies. The structure is graced with two elements of public art. Greeting most visitors at the easterly building entrance from Superior Avenue is the brilliant orange portal ‘Last’, by sculptor Tony Smith (supposedly his last such commission). Softening the grade level below the acute western prow of the building at the Detroit-Superior Bridge is ‘Terminal’, a playful assemblage of cut steel plate and pipe depicting members of sculptor Gene Kangas’ family.

A dramatic vista of the Lausche Building is that seen from the western bank of the Cuyahoga River’s bend below. In that view, the Lausche Building’s dense black prow occupies a towering foreground, above the shimmering river, while the much higher caps of Cleveland’s distinctive triple skyscrapers — Key Tower, the former BP America Building and The Terminal Tower — form a spiked corona beyond.  

Author Richard (Rick) Zimmerman is a life-long Cleveland resident and architect who writes extensively on sustainability and local landmarks. At rickzworld, he has created a cosmos populated by imagination, peppered with cartoons and humor. Seek out his many riffs on life, love and modern times, and you are sure to be amused.

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