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What would you do with the Breuer? exhibit

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/06/09 @ 1:13am

Why bother wasting energy destroying the Breuer Tower when you can have red paper mache wings sprouting from the walls or implant giant power plugs in the windows or replace a chunk of the curtain wall for a multi-story greenhouse?

Just some of the ideas found in the thirty submissions for "What would you do with the Breuer?" exhibit at IngenuityFest. Entrants from as far as Beirut and Australia submitted ideas that range from the nearly impossible to clever shifts of space and creative ideas on using the building for more than housing office workers.

The exhibition also includes the six original design schemes commissioned by the County, as well as two historical designs, including Breuer's and that of George B. Post.

"It is interesting to me how they differ, from the more pragmatic and minimalist to the impossibly absurd," says David Ellison, who organized the exhibit with fellow local architect, Sally Levin. "The variety of proposals is huge, ranging from those that leave Marcel Breuer's work mostly intact?to the more drastic ideas that imagine a completely transformed identity for the building."

Some of the visionary ideas include CUP, a Blacksburg, VA architecture firm which proposes "A National Park for Architecture: Post-fab" where the façade is moved to a new national park and becomes a climbing wall and platform for a scenic view. New York City's Frederic Schwartz keeps the building in place and plants vegetation around the windows to soften the lines (and maybe even remediate the asbestos?). Mark Olsen and Craig Scott both offer plans to attach new towers ? one of glass with a steel plinth connection the other made of a high-tech skin that curls and contorts around the stock-straight Breuer.

Team D/E/S, Gall and Medek's proposal for a global design center for sustainable solutions "Cleveland Bauhaus 21+," asserts that more creative thinking needs to be devoted to all of society's problems if we are to create a truly sustainable economy and civilization, while the "Sin Tower" created by Cleveland-area designer Patrick Hyland captures some of the frustration and outrage with local politics and current events.

"A number of entries suggest modest variations to the building's facade.  These modifications provoke the viewer to see the building in a fresh context-(re)defining the building as a work of art," says Levin. "Others suggest changing the building's function from office building to a home for Superman, a source for wind power and a collection of gardens, to name just a few.  Other proposals take on the serious nature of sustainability and the embodied energy that exists within the standing structure.

"We hope that when seen together, this collection of ideas reminds elected officials that there is more to the Breuer Building than has met their eyes-at least up until now. Also, we hope this reminds the public that when the question of the building's fate is opened to a wide range of people, there's no telling what innovative, exciting and new possibilities will emerge." 

To see a photo gallery of all the entrants in the "What would you do with the Breuer?" exhibit, go here. To see them in person, attend the opening reception this Thursday. For more information, go here.

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