On a winter day 42 years ago, Marcel Breuer visited the less beloved of his two Cleveland creations. In town for the opening of the Cleveland Museum of Art's new educational wing, which he'd co-designed, he also made time for his skyscraper. The 383-foot Cleveland Trust Tower had been "almost overlooked" amid the museum's festivities, wrote The Cleveland Press.

Like a loyal father, Breuer pointed out his progeny's charms and defended its limitations. He described how each granite-and-glass module had been raised into place on the steel skeleton, creating a shape that "flows around the whole structure." Patiently, he explained the building's size. "We had to provide much office space in a small area," Breuer said. "So, of course, we built up."

Breuer's skyscraper, renamed the Ameritrust Tower, has had a tough life. Vacant since 1996, it's been judged unfit for modern offices because of its narrow floor plan. In 2005, Cuyahoga County bought the tower to tear it down, inspiring debate over Bauhaus-influenced architecture: bold or just ugly? When the county abandoned its plans to build a headquarters on the site, the tower came to symbolize the government's hubris.

Sold this winter, the Ameritrust Tower is about to be remade. The new owner, the Geis Cos., hopes its floor-to-ceiling windows make it attractive as an apartment complex.

Share this story: