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55 Public Square

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Illuminating Building
1956–1958, Carson and Lundin. 55 Public Sq.
  • (Photograph by Barbara Powers)

Originally known as the Illuminating Building, this 22-story, 300-foot tall tower was Cleveland’s first postwar International Style skyscraper. Built in 1956–1958 and designed by the New York firm Carson and Lundin, it was originally occupied by northeast Ohio’s electric utility. The structure was set back on its parcel with a small pedestrian plaza in front. The ground floor contained the lobby and a centrally placed elevator bank, along with a customer service area for the utility and a display of electric appliances. An attached one-story restaurant projected into one side of the plaza. Though the building was designed with a steel-frame structure, a steel shortage at the time of construction necessitated structural changes. As described in Architectural Record in 1958, the building’s eight lower stories of the office slab were of composite structural materials; above were twelve floors framed in reinforced concrete. It was the first tall reinforced concrete frame structure in the city. This change in materials is not registered in the uniform appearance of the glass-sheathed exterior, which features a grid of aluminum mullions separating the window glass and wall panels.


Corner, James, and Alison Bick Hirsch.  The landscape imagination: collected essays of James Corner, 1990-2010. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2014.

Deegan, Gregory G., and Toman, James A. The Heart of Cleveland: Public Square in the 20th Century. Cleveland: Cleveland Landmarks Press, Inc., 1999.

Johannesen, Eric. Cleveland Architecture 1876-1976. Cleveland: The Western Reserve Historical Society, 1979.

Johannesen, Eric, “Cleveland Public Square,” Cuyahoga County, Ohio. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1975. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Lake, D. J. Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Philadelphia: Titus, Simmons and Titus, 1874.

Writing Credits

Marcia E. Moll
Richard J. Sicha
Barbara Powers



  • 1956


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Marcia E. Moll, Richard J. Sicha, "55 Public Square", [Cleveland, Ohio], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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