Public Utilities Building, Cleveland, Ohio

Formally named The Carl B. Stokes Public Utilities Building, this structure at 1201 Lakeside Avenue at the eastern edge of the city’s downtown core, was completed in 1971. The five-story office structure, designed by local architect Thomas T. K. Zung, ended a 30-year drought in municipal construction.

The marble and glass structure was conceived as a key element anchoring the northern end of East 12th Street at Lakeside Avenue, as East 12th was at the time being converted into a divided tree-lined ‘mall-type’ street. The building’s massing aligns north-south as a counterpoint to the East 12th right-of-way.

The design of the building is monumental, with a certain classical influence in its organization and form. The exaggerated overhang of the building cap is a pronounced capital, while its multiple floors of glass curtain wall form a shaft-like mass, and the building’s accommodation to grade form a receiving base.

Primary entrance to the structure is gained by way of an entry pavilion centered on its western façade. That pavilion is restated in similar structures punctuating the other building facets. An interior light well penetrates the full height of the office structure.

The Public Utilities Building is named for Carl B. Stokes, 51st Mayor of Cleveland (from 1968 to 1971), and considered to be the first black mayor of any sizable American city. Carl Stokes also served as an Ohio representative and as U. S. Ambassador to the Seychelles. Also named for Mr. Stokes is the Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House Building at Huron Road, overlooking the Flats. The newer wing of the main branch of The Cleveland Public Library is named for Carl’s brother, Congressman Louis B. Stokes.

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