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.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
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:
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
Low Voltage: Shen Milson Wilke
Code/Life Safety: Howe Engineers
Historic Renovation: Van Auken Akins
Exterior Envelope: Morrison Hershfield
James Maguire/Maguire Photographics
235,000 square feet (Global Center); 767,000 square feet (convention center)
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project:
Metal/glass curtain wall: Convention Center – Harmon Inc.
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
Other: Interior Curtainwall and storefronts – Harmon Inc.
Metal doors: STEELCRAFT
Special doors: Operable Partitions – HUFCOR Inc.
Upswinging doors, other:
Closers: Norton – Assa Abloy
Exit devices: Sargent – Assa Abloy
Pulls: Sargent – Assa Abloy
Security devices: Rockwood
Other special hardware: Pemko – Assa Abloy
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))
Resilient flooring: Marmoleum Composition Tile
Carpet: Milliken, Lees, Constantine, Shaw, Masland
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Specialty Ceiling – arktura - drop ceiling system
Motorized Roller Window Shades – Nysan Solar Control
Furnishings: All FF&E selections made by Owner / operator
Downlights: Cooper Lighting
Exterior: Louis Poulsen Lighting Inc., Cooper Lighting, Amerlux Exterior, Philips Gardco, Valmont Industries