Bohn Tower, Cleveland, Ohio
This crisp and slender 22-story cast concrete high-rise residential structure is named for Ernest J. Bohn (1901 – 1975), a well-respected local figure in public housing. The facility is fittingly owned and operated by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) as an independent senior living center.
Born in Hungary, Bohn emigrated in 1911, accompanying his father to Cleveland. After being educated at Adelbert College and Western Reserve Law School, he went on to a career in the Ohio House of Representatives and on Cleveland City Council. His passion for housing reform led to his drafting the state’s first housing legislation, and, in 1933, becoming the first director of CMHA, a post he was to hold for the next 3-1/2 decades. He also chaired the City’s Planning Commission from 1942 to 1966. His later focus shifted to elderly housing.
Situated at 1300 Superior Avenue, with its tall residential slab paralleling East 13th Street, Bohn Tower was designed by the local architectural firm of William Dorsky Associates, and was completed in 1972. It contains 266 residential units on a particularly tight site, and thus has no ground-level open space (though several upper level terraces were incorporated into the structure’s design). The pale warm coloration of the striated cast concrete flanks and ribs of Bohn Tower set it markedly apart from the rusticated exterior texture of its nearest neighbor, Reserve Square. Bohn Tower also shows its near-Brutalist roots in its chunkily detailed base levels.
Bohn Tower is but one of several high-rise structures — The Chesterfield, Reserve Square, St. Clair Place, Erieview Tower and Eaton Center among them — erected in a fairly dense arrangement at the eastern end of Cleveland’s downtown core. Most blocks to the east of Bohn Tower quickly fall to structures of only a few stories in height, and continue thus eastward. Only recently, with the nearby development of residential condominiums, apartments and lofts of The Avenue District by Zaremba, Inc., has the vicinity seen renewed construction.