The Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Biuilding

The Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Building
The Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Building

Completed in 2002, this 24-story tower is one of four distinctively-capped high-rise structures defining the core skyline of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It joins The Terminal Tower (1930), the former BP America Building (now simply known as 200 Public Square, 1985), and Key Tower (1991) to frame the city panorama against Lake Erie.

Named for Carl B. Stokes, the first African-American mayor of a major U. S. city (51st mayor of Cleveland, from 1967-1971), the structure was designed by an association of Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects and Karlsberger Architects for the General Services Administration.

Rising to an overall height of 430 feet, the tower has an irregular plan, with a sweeping curved façade directed southwesterly towards, and high above, the winding Cuyahoga River below, running through the city’s Flats. Clad in whitish stone, the building bears varying grids of dark punched windows. It is capped by an exaggeratedly overscaled eyebrow cornice that defines its upper edge while shading a portion of the building’s upper floors. That cornice is replicated at smaller scale over a lower six-story portion of the building.

The tower’s corner entrance, near the intersection of Huron Road and Superior Avenue at the west end of the Detroit-Superior Bridge, is marked by a monumental sculpture by Jim Dine — a large bronze variant on his Venus de Milo theme. Within the arched portal entry lies a rotunda and grand lobby with views of the Cuyahoga.

In addition to twenty major courtrooms and their associated judges’ chambers and offices, the building houses an auditorium and cafeteria, jury assembly areas, and access to a roof terrace. Court house parking and maintenance areas are located on several levels below the public entrance to the facility. The tower is also connected via enclosed pedestrian walkway to the nearby Tower City Center complex, and its amenities of office space, retail, hotels, dining, food court, theaters and parking.

The Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Building houses not only Federal courts, but also the U.S. Immigration Court, offices of the U.S. Marshals and the U.S. Attorneys, and Federal Probation and Pretrial Services. 


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