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Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio

Updated on April 15, 2019
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Rick is a Cleveland-area architect who writes extensively about local landmarks, architecture and attractions.

Lausche State Office Building

The Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio
The Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio | Source

Tribute to a Former Judge, Mayor, State Governor and US Senator

This 15-story office building housing many of the State of Ohio's agencies and departments was designed by a local architectural team consisting of Fred Toguchi Architects, Madison-Madison International, and Ireland & Associates. Its imposing form is that of a skewed black mass marking the jagged edge of downtown Cleveland’s skyline as it towers above the Flats of the Cuyahoga River far below. The structure sits along West Huron Street at the western end of the Detroit-Superior Bridge that spans the river.

Completed in 1979, the office tower was named for Cleveland politico, judge and Mayor, Frank J. Lausche, who later became Ohio’s elected Governor on five different occasions throughout the 1940s and 1950s.He then followed with two terms in the United States Senate. In his day, Lausche was considered by many to be a truly original, independent, and maverick politician — in other words, a classic 'small-d Democrat'.

Building Form

The structure that bears his name consists of rhomboidal office floor plans (dictated by the building’s roughly triangular site), clad in uninterrupted black glass with vertically ribbed mullions. That dark mass rises atop the muscular, heavily punctuated lower levels clad in light granite. Those lower floors accommodate the building to its steeply sloping site by means of terraced floor levels and ramping.

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

Distinctive Silhouette

Perhaps the most dramatic view of the Frank J. Lausche Building is the one seen from Settler's Landing along Robert Lockwood Jr. Drive at the base of West Superior Avenue on the western bank of the Cuyahoga River’s bend below. In that view, the Lausche Building’s dense and angular black prow occupies a towering foreground, 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. Other structures of the city's downtown core array in hues of sand, red and gray beneath.

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