Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

By Harriet Tramer  |  Photo by Doug Khrenovsky

Shawn Hoefler maintains that the tall buildings that mark Cleveland’s skyline have changed markedly since he first began featuring them on his website during 1999. And these transitions have worked to further fuel his fascination with these landmarks, a passion he dates back to his 1970s childhood in Salem, Ohio, plus his determination to guide others towards understanding their significance.

“These buildings are not only significant on an architectural level, they have also had a major historical impact on the entire region surrounding them,” Hoefler says. “So, I definitely think they’re deserving of all the interest I am trying to bring to them.”

Hoefler finds particular significance in the fact that the structures that were built more recently are less ornate and smaller than are those constructed during previous decades. Several dynamics have played into this downsizing with economic swings and corporate relocations being major contributing factors, Hoefler, who works as a graphic artist for the Oswald Companies, a Cleveland-based insurance and risk management firm, says. 

By his accounting, geological considerations have also played a role in Cleveland’s high buildings becoming markedly smaller over time. Soil conditions have sometimes resulted in adaptations having to be made as the building process on major projects evolved, Hoefler says. The expense of completing site preparations for the Federal Court House, for example, turned out to be so much higher than initially anticipated that the floor count was reduced from the original plans.

“A building like the Terminal Tower would never be built today the way it was during the 1920s,” Hoefler says. “New commercial towers built today require much larger floorplates and the manpower providing masonry work, stone carving, and other aspects of the building’s ornate facade no longer exist.”

The Ernst & Young Tower represents a good example of a structure that is more in keeping with today’s construction practices than is the Terminal Tower, Hoefler says. Located on the Flats East Bank, this business headquarters is less than half the height of the older building but it offers comparable space with larger floorplates and a modern glass facade.

As Hoefler’s fascination with Cleveland landmarks continues to grow his efforts aimed at making others aware of their significance have proved more successful than he ever imagined they would. Published by Arcadia Publishing during 2003, his book about these structures, Cleveland’s Downtown Architecture, has sold more than 6,500 copies. And he is particularly proud that the producers of the TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” have been using one of his images as that show’s opening graphic.

“I think it is fantastic that my photo of the Cleveland landscape has become an integral part of the show,” Hoefler says. “The program has been seen by 50 million viewers from around the globe and I am sure that number will climb as the show goes into syndication.”  

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