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Design firm creates ‘dream’ Sherwin-Williams headquarters to keep company in downtown because it just really likes Cleveland (video)

The Austin Company has no ties to the project, just a commitment to Cleveland.
Updated: Nov. 20, 2019 at 3:09 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The future of Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland is extremely unclear ever since the Fortune 500 company announced it needed a new company headquarters in September.

Since then, the company hasn’t said much, really, about anything.

A possible site in downtown, a suburb of Cleveland, or somewhere new altogether all seem to be in play.

Employees of the design firm The Austin Company didn’t like the sound of that.

Austin, headquartered in Cleveland, took it upon themselves to try and force the issue that Sherwin-Williams stay in downtown.

“It is just an idea or vision of what a new headquarters could look like,” Brandon Davis said, vice president of operations and general manager of the The Austin Company.

The vision of Austin volunteers is a building that would change the look of downtown for generations with a massive complex along the Cuyahoga River, adjacent to the current Sherwin-Williams headquarters in downtown.

This is not a design company vying for a job or hoping the world leader of paint picks up its project.

“It is in no way affiliated with any formal engagement with or any discussions with Sherwin-Williams or any government or civic organizations,” Davis said. “A group of Austin team members were passionately debating the topic, worried about the potential departure of Sherwin-Williams from the state, or even just from downtown, and so we supported their passion and desire to try to put together a vision as an option for the community leaders to keep Sherwin-Williams downtown.”

The pie-in-the-sky project shows what could happen if Sherwin-Williams took advantage of a riverfront location.

This fictional rendering of what a new Sherwin-Williams headquarters could look like downtown....
This fictional rendering of what a new Sherwin-Williams headquarters could look like downtown. The design firm The Austin Company created it, simply to continue the conversation about the need to keep the Fortune 500 company in Cleveland.(Source: The Austin Company)

When asked about the highlights of the fictitious structure, Davis spelled out 10 passionate points for keeping paint the company in Cleveland:

  1. It places Sherwin-Williams on some of the most prime, yet under-utilized land in the city.
  2. It makes Sherwin-Williams the “face” of the city, both from a cityscape viewpoint looking across the river on downtown, and from a main artery for entry into downtown (Ontario/Huron).
  3. The location allows for multiple paths into the facility and parking, from north off of the shore way, south off the major highways, to through the west bank of the flats area. A much better parking arrangement then having to weave more into the downtown area.
  4. The concept would assume the spark of redevelopment of the area across the river into living, retail and restaurants, a development that has been discussed over the past couple of years. Should that happen, it would provide another excellent venue for Sherwin-Williams employees to work and play, walking distance from their office.
  5. The design takes the under-utilized riverfront and makes it utilized and also increases access for the public to the waterfront with a strong connection to Tower City.
  6. The design creates significant new greenspace, both public spaces and private to Sherwin-Williams spaces, in downtown and in and around the lakefront.
  7. The design consolidates offices, R&D, and training operations into this building/campus.
  8. The design continues partial use of their existing HQ office space, connected by an over the street enclosed pedestrian bridge. This allows continued productive use of those historic Cleveland buildings, and also allows Sherwin-Williams to maintain some connection to those buildings, buildings that have been the home of Sherwin-Williams since 1930, we believe.
  9. The design puts the Sherwin-Williams campus as a main focal point for any visitor to downtown Cleveland that is going to Quicken Loans Arena, likely anyone going to Progressive Field, to the Federal Courthouse, to many people coming into down from the inner-belt to go to First Energy Stadium, and anyone going to the JACK casino – making Sherwin-Williams HQ a main feature to many of those visiting downtown Cleveland as tourist or visitors.
  10. The design specifically stayed away from building a large tower or skyscraper. We think Sherwin-Williams’ legacy is that of a strong company with humble and deeply connected community leaders in its executive ranks. Building off that belief, the thought was to make the vision a strong and iconic monument, but not an over-the-top self-promotion type of tower. And, also to recognize that history of Sherwin-Williams community connection by opening up and developing prime riverfront space for the community, and minimizing the amount of existing building views, etc., that the new building would impact.

This wasn’t just one person, sitting at a computer for an hour coming up with some cool renderings.

According to Davis, the following team members all played a part: Judi Szabo-Stull, Ken Kazama, Anca Amaiei, Charles Slife, Billiejo LeSage, Dave Oshins, Brian Zuzik, and Nicole Rosario.

The project may not go any further than this headline but the conversation continues because of The Austin Group, and of the desire by many to keep this project in downtown.

“It is not a pitch to get associated with the project. The rumor is that Sherwin-Williams has already chosen both it’s A/E (architecture and engineering) and construction partners for the potential project,” Davis said. “This is mostly how we add value to our communities, by leveraging our skills and expertise (versus writing big donation checks as an example), and in this particular case it is important to note that we did support the team that put this together by allowing them some work hours and of course company programs and resources, but that also they spent a lot of their own personal time working on this effort.”

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