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Virgil E. Brown Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Updated on May 12, 2019
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Rick is a Cleveland-area architect who has written about (and created) local landmarks and architecture for decades.

Big Blue Box

This visually striking six-story mass rises abruptly from the urban sidewalks bracketing the intersection of East 17th Street and Payne Avenue at the eastern fringe of Cleveland's downtown business and office core.

Virgil E. Brown Center

View from Payne Avenue.
View from Payne Avenue. | Source

County Services

Though formally named the Virgil E. Brown Center — in memory of a revered long-term county commissioner and administrator — the office structure is known locally as the Cuyahoga County Human Services Building. Within the 310,000 square foot of its six floors are housed a range of employment and family services of the Board of County Commissioners of Cuyahoga County, Ohio (which embraces all of metropolitan Cleveland as well as a number of its embedded and surrounding communities).

The Center provides a broad range of services to area constituents, including voter registration, employment assistance, work programs, Medicaid assistance, child care assistance, and tax preparation guidance. Offices housed within the building also administer the Federal and state Healthy Start programs, as well as other food and utility assistance programs for the County.


1641 Payne Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio:
1641 Payne Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

get directions

Acess to the Virgil E. Brown Center may be had from either Payne Avenue or East 17th Street.

Situated at 1641 Payne Avenue, the building occupies the southwesterly corner of the intersection of Payne Avenue and East 17th Street, with its primary entrance on Payne Avenue. Erection of the structure was completed in 1991, based on a design by the local architectural firm of Richard Fleischman & Partners. the building therefore carries the distinctively gaudy colors and often-affected geometric and prismatic flourishes typical of the Fleischman oeuvre.

With an attenuated rectilinear form occupying virtually its entire site, it has an unusual and quite substantial 40,000 square foot floor plate. The structure was therefore designed to incorporate three multiple-story atriums. These serve to not only more readily convey the locations and arrangements of the myriad contained agency offices and make them comprehensible to users circulating within, but also to introduce desired natural daylighting into the many offices arrayed about its floors.


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