Thursday, September 10, 2009

200 Public Square: Cleveland's Third Tallest Skyscraper

On the east side of Cleveland’s Public Square is 200 Public Square, overlooking the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, The Terminal Tower, and Old Stone Church, to name a few landmarks.

It was originally known as the Standard Oil or Sohio Building, then as the BP Tower, after British Petroleum acquired Standard Oil. The building was completed in 1985 and is 45 stories tall. In a move which shows that forward thinking is not always the strength of Cleveland’s city leaders, City Council refused to allow the building to pass The Terminal Tower (52 stories) in height. ( A few years later the city allowed the 57 story Key Tower to be constructed.)

An undated postcard showing the Public Square area long before
200 Public Square was built. The building with the flag on it and the one next to it were demolished to make way.

The tower, designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, was designed to maximize rentable space and still stay within the height restriction.

It was originally to be home to the sculpture ”Free Stamp” a giant rubber stamp designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen. But new owners of the building at the time, British Petroleum, didn’t want such a modern work of art, much less one that said the word “Free,” right outside their door, and they eventually donated it to the city. Free Stamp has a home at Willard Park, but Free Stamp was placed so the word “Free” faces it’s original home of 200 Public Square. (Petroleum, of course, is far from free, and BP is no longer a tenant in the building.)

200 Public Square, in the center, is flanked by the Key Tower on the left and The Terminal Tower on the right

Despite the fact that few people seem to recognize the current name of the building as 200 Public Square, the building has become a well-known landmark. Having been inside the building in one of the upper floors, I can confirm that it has a great view of the city and of Public Square. (You can take a virtual tour of 200 Public Square here.)

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