March 20 2012

Modernism Stands Out In Cleveland, Ohio: The Peter B. Lewis Building

In 1999, famed deconstructive architect Frank Gehry broke ground on the newest addition to the Case Western Reserve University campus in Cleveland, Ohio. The Peter B. Lewis Building for the Weatherhead School of Management opened in 2002. Located at the corner of Bellflower Road and Ford Drive in University Circle, the building stands out among the neo-classical structures that form the bulk of the university’s campus.

On the exterior, Gehry has mixed red brick with his characteristic undulating organic curves. The façade is composed of stainless steel plates that create a sculptural form beginning at the roof and wrapping the sides of the building. Unlike some of Gehry’s other works, like the Guggenheim Bilbao or Disney Concert Hall, a large portion of the exterior, clad in red brick, approaches what one might consider “conventional” architecture. However, this convention quickly dissolves as the brick twists and crashes into the steel plate façade. Considering that the building houses the Weatherhead School of Management, The red brick symbolizes traditional established methods for doing business while the metal plate represents the dynamic changes in global economy and a rapidly changing business environment.  The two seemingly contradictory styles work together to synthesize a complete whole.

Peter B Lewis BuildingThe interior houses a central atrium covered in over 50,000 sq feet of curving drywall. This atrium is flanked by steel towers housing offices and classrooms. Gehry’s expertise with lighting is displayed by the natural light that penetrates the interior and changes hues as the day progresses. The light varies and gives unique character to the interior spaces. The classrooms, each custom designed, fill specific niches, and are warmed up with excellent use of natural materials.

The Peter B. Lewis building is unlike any other building on the Case Western Reserve University Campus. It is part of the ongoing renewal in urban planning at University Circle; including the future university center designed by firm Perkins+Will and the relocation of the MOCA Cleveland to the neighborhood.

This addition, by noted architect Frank Gehry, adds to Cleveland’s architectural legacy and raises an interesting question. What is architecture’s role in revitalizing an urban area?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Jordan Meerdink

Jordan Meerdink, a former GSP blogger, is a graduate of the The Ohio State University. He holds a B.S. in Architecture with a minor in studio art. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jordan inherited an early interest in mechanics and construction from his grandfather, a developer who was one of the early practitioners of prefabricated housing, and his father who is a retired store owner and highly capable D.I.Yer. Currently living in New York City, he continues to produce art and furniture with a focus on smart, ecologically responsible design. Jordan has a special concern for design that serves people outside the traditional clientele of architects, with an interest in architecture that deviates from the beaten path, ranging from Baroque churches to dismantled bomb shelters.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 at 4:06 pm and is filed under Architecture, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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