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Public Utilities Building, Cleveland, Ohio
Formally named The Carl B. Stokes Public Utilities Building (of the City of Cleveland), this structure at 1201 Lakeside Avenue lying at the eastern edge of the city’s downtown core near the lakefront, was completed in 1971. The five-story office structure, designed by local architect Thomas T. K. Zung, ended a 30-year drought in municipal construction. Mr. Zung left behind a legacy of other notable local structures, including a vast geodesic field house on the campus of Cleveland State University that has unfortunately since been demolished.
The marble and glass structure was conceived as a key element anchoring the northern end of East 12th Street at Lakeside Avenue, as East 12th Street was at the time being converted into a divided tree-lined ‘pedestrian mall' type of street. The building’s primary massing aligns north-south on axis with, and as a counterpoint, to the East 12th right-of-way. That massing also points north toward Lake Erie beyond.
The design of the building is monumental, with a certain classical influence in its organization and form. The exaggerated overhang of the building cap is a pronounced capital, while its multiple floors of glass curtain wall form a shaft-like mass, and the building’s accommodation to the site's grades forms a receiving base. The design thus embodies a crude columnar modeling.
Primary entrance to the structure is gained by way of an entry pavilion centered on its western façade. That pavilion is restated in similar structures punctuating the other building facets. An interior light well penetrates the full height of the structure to bring daylight to the rings of office space.
Along with such developments as the North Point office complex, the relatively new home of one of Cleveland's primary television stations, and a recent FBI facility, the Utilities Building has extended the breadth of the city's downtown core northeastward flanking the Memorial Shoreway (Interstate 90 and State Route 2).
The Public Utilities Building is named for Carl B. Stokes, 51st Mayor of Cleveland (from 1968 to 1971), and considered to be the first black mayor of any sizable American city. Carl Stokes also served as an Ohio representative and as U. S. Ambassador to the Seychelles. Also named for Mr. Stokes is the Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Building at Huron Road, overlooking the Flats. The newer wing of the main branch of The Cleveland Public Library is named for Carl’s brother and fellow long-term political figure, Congressman Louis B. Stokes.
The northern end of this office structure overlooks former rail lines, Cleveland's Memorial Freeway and the Lake Erie shore beyond.
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