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Key Tower, Cleveland

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Key Tower, Cleveland

One monumental structure that deserves to be recognized for its’ daily functions, benefits to society, and structural beauty is Key Tower. The majority of Key Tower is owned by the Richard E. Jacobs Group, the same company who came up with the plans for this building. Although they still own fifty percent of the tower, co-owners such as Wells Real Estate Funds exist. This building is located on Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio and peaks at a towering 948 feet high. To this day it is still the tallest building in Ohio, the eighteenth tallest building in the United States, and the seventieth tallest building in the world.key tower

Originally known as the Society Center, it is fifty-seven stories tall and can be seen from roughly twenty miles away. The Society Center was renamed Key Tower when Key Bank acquired Society Bank. Between 1898 and 1955, before the construction of Key Tower, the Chamber of Commerce Building stood in its’ location. In 1939, Cleveland College of Western Reserve Univ. purchased the building and occupied it until 1953. Two years later, the Chamber of Commerce Building was demolished.

Cesar PelliArgentine architect César Pelli created Key Tower after outbidding Philip Johnson for the rights to work on the project. Pelli emigrated to the United States in 1952, became a U.S. citizen in 1964, and in 1991 became listed by the American Institute of Architects among the top ten most influential living American architects. From 1977 to 1984, Pelli was the dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. César Pelli was living in the same state where Stony Creek granite was quarried.

It can be argued that Pelli only accepted the Key Tower project because he wanted to design it similar to his plans for the Wells Fargo Center, formerly known as Northwest Tower. The Wells Fargo Center was created three years prior and located in Minneapolis. At that time Pelli’s proposal for the building was rejected, which gives reason to believe he accepted the Key Tower project so he could still create his design.

Pelli designed Key Tower following a postmodern architectural style. Known for its’ composite structure, it was created using a variety of different materials. The majority of the building’s facade is composed of Stony Creek granite, which is quarried in Connecticut. This granite is over 245 million years old. However, the first two floors of Key Tower are composed of Napoleon Red granite. The majority of the building’s facing was flamed, which is when a flame is used to roughen the surface of the granite. This granite is quarried from Vanga, Sweden. The interior of Key Tower, as well as the adjacent hotel complex, is composed primarily of Rosso (Red) Verona marble. This orange-colored limestone is quarried in Venice, Italy. Other materials used in the interior of Key Tower include purple Rosso Levanto marble quarried in the Mediterranean area and Breccia Pernice marble, from Italy. All of the interior materials, excluding Rosso Levanto marble, are over 200 million years old. They are from the Jurassic Age, while Rosso Levanto is from the Tertiary Age and is less than sixty-five million years old.

patronas twin towersSome of his most famous works, other than Key Tower, include the World Financial Center and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which until 2004 were the tallest buildings in the world. In 2002, Pelli designed the JP MorganChase Building. This office building is located in San Francisco. Roughly 400,000 square feet of the building is leased by JPMorgan Chase & Co., an American multinational banking corporation. This corporation was formed in 2000 when Chase Manhattan Corporation merged with J.P. Morgan and Co.

Although the majority of materials used, the design, and the time period of the creation of Greek sculptor Kostas Dimitriadis’ “The Discus Thrower” and Key Tower differed, some similarities exist between the two creations. The general concept of using different materials for different layers of construction can be seen in both creations. In “The Discus Thrower,” the pedestal was composed of polished Stony Creek granite, while the actual statue was composed of bronze. As previously stated, the first two floors of Key Tower were composed of Napoleon Red granite, while the rest of the building was made of Stony Creek granite. This general architectural structure, as well as the use of Stony Creek granite, adapted over time and both are still used in modern society.

Key Tower won a LEED gold certification for sustainable operations and maintenance. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Under LEED standards, a gold certification is the second-highest recognition that a building can earn. This certificate is given to buildings and communities that use strategies in an attempt to improve performance in energy savings, water efficiency, environmental quality, and CO2 emission reductions. Key Tower was awarded this recognition by the United States Green Building Council. The chairman and founder, Robert K. Watson, developed LEED with the intentions to get companies to follow green building designs, operations, and maintenance. Key Tower received their recognition for their owner's and manager's attempts at cutting water and power use, recycling office waste, and using environmentally friendly cleaning materials. The most recent of Key Tower’s attempts to “Go Green” include cutting water usage by thirty percent and increasing office-space recycling by twenty-five percent.

Most of the tower is occupied by Key Bank’s headquarters, although the top floor of Key Tower is currently being used by Amin, Turocy & Calvin LLP. Amin, Turocy & Calvin is an intellectual property law firm. From the moment David and Dick Jacobs opened the tower in 1991, until December 2007 when Amin, Turocy & Calvin leased the office space; Key Tower’s top floor had been vacant and unfinished. Industry experts believe these 14,000-square-feet of office space must have cost roughly $420,000 per year. Amin, Turocy & Calvin is a rather small company, but they can afford this office space because they represent over a dozen Fortune 500 companies. Some of their clients include AT&T, Motorola, Wachovia Corporation, and Cisco Systems. If their office space proves to be a long-term investment, Amin, Turocy & Calvin’s plans for the future will consist of increasing employment by twenty percent, leasing more office space on lower floors, and using local architect Steve Kordalski to design outdoor patios off of the top floor.

cleveland marriottAttached to the base of the tower is the Cleveland Marriot Downtown. The creation of this 403-room hotel sparked a hotel-building boom in downtown Cleveland and revolutionized the hotel industry. Not only does this correspond to the story of “The Comeback City,” which relates to the “Rags to Riches” idea displayed through the Baron Ashkenazy in Ragtime, but it also parallels the revolutionizing of the music industry that Scott Joplin helped to create. Combining the national landmark and tourist attraction that is Key Tower with a place where sight-seeing tourists can reside was one of the best business decisions The Jacob’s Group could have ever made. Now tourists, traveling sports teams, and local residents in need of a banquet hall can all visit and spend the night at Key Tower. Similar to shopping in a grocery store, the longer a potential customer stays in the store, the more inclined they are to buy something. By attaching a hotel to Key Tower, tourists that are spending the night will also be in need of dining services, transportation, and will have a longer time frame to go to the cocktail bar and souvenir shop. The Cleveland Marriot’s location is also ideal. Just out of Public Square, the Marriot is near every major office building, restaurant, and shopping destination in the city. Some famous local spots that make a stay at Key Tower’s Marriot more desirable are The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Jacob’s Field, The Great Lakes Science Center, and Cleveland Brown’s Stadium.

Document References:

Key Tower, Cleveland.kmz (Google Earth Placemark)












Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:21  


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Flesh and Stone

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Uncirculated: Shrink wrapped in clear plastic from original Italian publisher, 1999. Ships with fresh samples of sparkling Stony Creek pink granite for historians, collectors, geologists and classrooms. Additional samples available upon request.