Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

-OH I-90 Roadtrip

Oberlin Conservatory of Music (1963)

Minoru Yamasaki, Architect

39 West College Street  Oberlin, OH

on the campus of the Oberlin College and Conservatory

Aerial View and Map

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Visited June 2, 2011

Minoru Yamasaki, the famed architect that is probably best known for designing the World Trade Center twin towers, designed this cluster of 3 buildings for Oberlin in 1963. His buildings at Wayne State University in Detroit are more successful, but have posted these for reference.


Peter B. Lewis Building (2002)

Frank Gehry, Architect

11119 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106

On the Case Western Reserve University Campus

Map and Aerial View

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Visited June 1, 2011

Home of the Weatherhead School of Management


Park Synagogue (1950)

Erich Mendelsohn, Architect

3300 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Map and Aerial View

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Visited June 1, 2011

While studying architecture in College, Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower in Potsdam (1917-21) was always a prime example of Expressionist Architecture in the books and lectures. I also vaguely remember images of a hat factory  in Germany, but other than that I was not familiar with any other buildings by Mendelsohn. Doing some initial roadtrip research on notable buildings in northern Ohio, I was shocked to find a Synagogue in Cleveland Heights designed by “Eric Mendelsohn”. I did a little more research and found out it was the same “Erich Mendelsohn” that designed the Einstein Tower (he shortened his surname to “Eric” while in England in the 1930’s). Mendelsohn had moved to the UK in 1933 in reaction to the rise of antisemitism in Germany. He then moved to the United States in 1941 and taught at the University of California Berkeley, and lived in the USA until his death in 1953.

Well upon this discovery, I had to visit the Park Synagogue to see what Eric has been up to while in the USA.

While lacking the dramatic curving expressionist form of his Einstein Tower, the large copper clad dome and the light tan brick composition has a dignified presence. The circular shape of the dome is repeated in the porthole windows and planter walls in other parts of the complex. The main building is situated in the side of a hill allowing for the lower level on the northwest side to extend out beyond the footprint of the dome and open out to the lawn. I was a little disappointed that the building design was not as daring as Mendelsohn’s early work, but left satisfied with his mature work.