Cleveland, After the Circus has Left Town…





Judson A. Kline,  FAIA

Judson A. Kline, FAIA

Wow, what a start to the summer for the city of Cleveland. First, the Cavaliers pull off the upset of the year and come from behind to capture the National Basketball Championship sparking a celebration of epic proportion. Over one million people shared the moment. Then, the Republican Convention rolled into town for another world stage appearance for the city.   Now that both of these events have come and gone, what is the future for the city and how might that be impacted by the leadership of architects in the community?

While there were many projects, completed prior to the convention, many more were put on hold to not be disruptive during the city’s moment in the national limelight. With the cameras and press now gone, many of the projects held back are getting underway. Local firms are busy catching up. As a result, the work load continues to be demanding. However, the real questions are: what will the future look like, what has been learned from the experience and how can architects become the leaders needed in Northeast Ohio?

With a large number of major corporate CEO’s, foreign and national journalists in Cleveland, the city was able to show off its character to encourage a second look in future consideration for conferences, conventions and business opportunities. These two major events have been catalysts for economic and social change within the community. Architects can not only benefit from the increase in local economic activity, but also can learn the role of leadership they can have in shaping the discussion about the issues facing the community.

With a running start as a result of the attention focused on the quality and character of Greater Cleveland, the community has shaken off its former reputation as the burning river city. It is now getting many second looks for new investment. Architects need to share in this new found identity and value. The best way to accomplish this objective is by taking positions of leadership in the form of appointed and elected officials being impactful in bringing the knowledge and experience of design professionals to their community. Architects can be catalysts for civic initiatives and must prepare themselves to be the leaders communities require.

The AIA’s Center for Civic Leadership is the resource to support architects in the effort to pursue positions in community governance. By learning the lessons provided by the experience of the championship and national convention while recognizing the resources needed to make a difference and where to find them, architects can truly be the change makers needed in the community.