When it opened officially in October 2013, the new Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland, designed by LMN Architects of Seattle, became the nation's first medical mart, a year-round showplace for advanced medical devices and technology. The four-story, 235,000-square-foot facility is intended to help brand Cleveland as an international hub of biotechnical innovation by attracting health-care-themed meetings and exhibits to the city's adjacent new underground convention center, also designed by LMN.

The two facilities, owned by Cuyahoga County and joined seamlessly below grade, have other big jobs as well: they're meant to bring a sense of polish and completion to the historic Group Plan District, a cluster of Beaux Arts government and civic buildings laid out in 1903 by Daniel Burnham in one of the nation's most significant City Beautiful compositions.

Beyond that, public and private backers hope that the Global Center and convention center—plus an attached 600-room convention hotel designed by Cooper Carry of Atlanta, to be built by 2016—will help reinvigorate the often lifeless 12.6-acre Mall, the centerpiece of Burnham's district.

The rectangular greensward runs three blocks north–south through the center of the district, and also serves as the green roof of the mostly below-grade convention center. At the north end of the middle block of the Mall, the convention center roof swoops up 27 feet from the sidewalk, to provide a glassy 300-foot-long lobby, with a wide terrace on top that offers sweeping views of Lake Erie to the north and the city's downtown skyline to the south. The Mall is set between Public Square, the city's historic center, located catty-corner to the southwest, and the lakefront at North Coast Harbor to the northeast, home to the Cleveland Browns' stadium and I.M. Pei's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

LMN's Rafael Viñoly-Menendez—not to be confused with his famous uncle Rafael Viñoly—designed both the Global Center and the convention center to ensure a smooth fit between the two, and to make sure the Global Center (the most visible part of the project) would complement its early-20th-century neighbors. The cornice height, massing, and setbacks of the four-story building echo those of the historic civic and government buildings in the area. To underscore the medical theme of the Global Center, Viñoly-Menendez wrapped its facades with eccentrically propor​- tioned windows and specially molded precast concrete panels organized in an abstract pattern meant to evoke DNA sequences. The symbolism is hard to read, but the result is a distinctly contemporary building that, in its scale, pays deference to its Beaux Arts context.

The Global Center flanks the west side of the Mall and faces east, toward the big outdoor space, with an atrium window that is nearly the full height of the facade. Inside, glass-enclosed showrooms wrap the south, west, and north sides of the atrium, providing views out onto the Mall and adjacent streets.

A pedestrian ramp located just inside the Global Center's main entry descends gently to escalators and the registration area for the convention center, located one level below. From a single pivot point in that area, it's possible to look from one building into another, with a secure sense of orientation.

The jury is still out on how well both buildings will perform economically and socially, but initial reactions have been positive. Exhibit spaces in the Global Center are 80 percent leased, with national tenants such as HIMSS, Philips, Cisco, and GE Healthcare, and local tenants including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. Between now and 2019, the Global Center and convention center have been booked for 233 events, nearly a third of which are health-care related, says David Johnson, the joint facility's director of marketing and sales.

Unfortunately, the budget for the $465 million project didn't provide for much more than turf on the reconfigured Mall, which will have to wait for the implementation of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol's landscape design. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has charged a new commission to raise money for improvements to the Mall and for the makeover of Public Square, which has been designed by James Corner Field Operations. Another goal is to fund a pedestrian walkway to connect the north end of the Mall to the lakefront, rising above railroad tracks and a highway. Within two or three years, if more public and private dollars can be raised, Burnham's big vision for Cleveland, with this latest iteration, may finally be complete.


Owner: Cuyahoga County

Client: Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.

LMN Architects
801-2nd Avenue, Suite 501
Seattle, WA 98104
PH: 206.682.3460
FAX 206.343.9388

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
LMN Leadership Team
Principal-In-Charge: Chris Eseman, AIA, LEED AP

Design Partner: Mark Reddington, FAIA

Project Manager: Howard Howlett, Associate AIA

Project Architects: Rafael Viñoly, AIA, LEED AP; Stephen Van Dyck, AIA, LEED AP

LMN Design Team:
Russ Adams
Kalan Beck
Cheryl Cohen
Scott Crawford
Leo da Costa, LEED AP
Kailin Gregga, LEED AP + BDC
Maria Hui, LEED AP
Lori Naig, IIDA
John Park
Michael Petersen, Associate AIA
Dawn Polak
Tim Pfeiffer
Tyler Schaffer, AIA, LEED AP
Sarah Snider, LEED AP
Kathy Stallings, LEED AP
Brian Tennyson, AIA                      
John Woloszyn, AIA, LEED AP
Alex Woodhouse

Design Architect: LMN

Design Build Architect: URS/Robert P. Madison

Interior Design: LMN

Landscape Design: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. with McKnight Associates

Design Build Contractor: Turner Construction Company

Civil Engineer: Ralph Tyler Companies and Osborn Consulting

Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Advisor: McCleskey Consulting

Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer: Karpinksi Engineering

Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Barber Hoffman and Osborn Consulting

Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden

Food Service: Ricca Newmark Design

Vertical Transportation: Lerch Bates

Graphics: WPA

Low Voltage: Shen Milson Wilke

Code/Life Safety: Howe Engineers

Historic Renovation: Van Auken Akins

Exterior Envelope: Morrison Hershfield

Ed LaCasse/LaCasse Photography

James Maguire/Maguire Photographics

LMN Architects


235,000 square feet (Global Center); 767,000 square feet (convention center)

Project cost:

$465 million

Completion date:

June 2013



Structural system
Steel frame and truss

Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project:
Convention Center Green Roof – Built Up Slab
Owens Corning – FOAMULAR XPS – extruded polystyrene rigid foam insulation

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels: Convention Center - REYNOBOND

Metal/glass curtain wall: Convention Center – Harmon Inc.

Precast concrete: Global Center: Custom Design Precast Panels – SIDLEY Precast Group

Moisture barrier: Stego Industries, LLC

Curtain wall: Global Center: Structural glass wall and entrances - NUPRESS FACADES

Other cladding unique to this project: Mechanical Stacks – VIRACON – V907 – black
Laminated, reflective glass.

Built-up roofing: FLINTBOARD ISO

Metal frame: Global Center: Harmon Inc.


Other: Interior Curtainwall and storefronts – Harmon Inc.

Entrances: PITTCO Architectural Metals, Inc.

Metal doors: STEELCRAFT

Special doors: Operable Partitions – HUFCOR Inc.

Upswinging doors, other:
Overhead coiling doors
McKeon Door Company

Locksets: Sargent – Assa Abloy

Closers: Norton – Assa Abloy

Exit devices: Sargent – Assa Abloy

Pulls: Sargent – Assa Abloy

Security devices: Rockwood

Other special hardware: Pemko – Assa Abloy

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Ceilings Plus

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams

Wall coverings: HBF Textiles, Maharam, Knoll and Eurospan

Paneling: Cement Wall Panels - CBF

Solid surfacing: Corian

Special surfacing: Terrazzo Flooring – Terroxy Resin Systems

Floor and wall tile: Restrooms — Marazzi (floors), Statements Tile (walls))
Prefunction Porcelain wall tile panels - Laminam

Resilient flooring: Marmoleum Composition Tile

Carpet: Milliken, Lees, Constantine, Shaw, Masland

Special interior finishes unique to this project: Specialty Ceiling – arktura  - drop ceiling system
White powder coated steel “fins”

Motorized Roller Window Shades – Nysan Solar Control

Furnishings: All FF&E selections made by Owner / operator

Interior ambient lighting: Cooper Lighting, Neo-Ray, Kurt Versen, Lighting Dynamics Inc., Eureka, Lucifer Lighting, Io Lighting, LLC

Downlights: Cooper Lighting

Exterior: Louis Poulsen Lighting Inc., Cooper Lighting, Amerlux Exterior, Philips Gardco, Valmont Industries

Elevators/Escalators: Schindler