Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sherwin-Williams HQ site plan, buildings come into focus

According to sources on Sherwin-Williams headquarters develop-
ment team, this is the approximate layout of the HQ site in down-
town Cleveland, west of Public Square. The designs of proposed
buildings shown here are approximate examples based on exist-
ing works by SHW's architect Pickard Chilton (KJP/Google).

A site plan for the Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters (HQ) in downtown Cleveland is coming into focus. And what the HQ lacks in height, it might make up for in street presence especially along West 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue.

SHW-owned properties along those two streets are proposed to be developed by others. Last summer, SHW acquired the Superblock (bounded by Superior, West 6th, St. Clair, West 3rd) from the Weston Group as well as the Public Square lot from the Jacobs Group. The 6.82 acres of land is used entirely by surface parking lots.

That will change a year from now when SHW begins constructing a global HQ for upwards of $300 million. Planning is still very early in the process, currently consisting of programming, flow and general square footage requirements. So while things can and probably will change, sources in the SHW HQ development team say the site plan consists of the following:

BOK Park Place, the headquarters of the Bank of
Oklahoma, is the model for Sherwin-Williams
proposed new headquarters. But SHW's build-
ing will likely be about a half-dozen stories
taller and a little bit wider (Pickard Chilton).

  • A 1-million-square-foot office tower at the northwest corner of Superior Avenue and West 3rd Street. As reportedly earlier, the modern glass box tower will reportedly look similar to Pickard Chilton's (also SHW's HQ architect) 27-story, 700,000-square-foot BOK Park Plaza in Oklahoma City.

But SHW's HQ will reportedly be a little taller (about 30-35 stories) and have slightly larger floorplates (nearly 30,000 square feet vs 25,000 at BOK). Average floor heights above the lobby reportedly will be only 14 or 15 feet, suggesting a building 450 to 500 feet tall.

The design of Sherwin-Williams atrium, called the Center for
Excellence, in its existing HQ, is unknown. But sources said
a comparable, albeit smaller structure could be Devon Energy
Center's Auditorium in Oklahoma City (Pickard Chilton).

  • A new Center For Excellence (may have a new name) measuring about 50,000 to 80,000 square feet on Public Square featuring a conference center for employee training and corporate meetings, a small company museum (their existing museum is only 6,000 square feet) and possible retail space. A comparable structure may be Pickard Chilton's smaller, 22,000-square-foot Devon Energy Center Auditorium, across the street from the BOK Park Plaza.

A more aspirational structure may be found in the 120-foot-tall, 12,522-square-foot (of usable space) Devon Energy Center Rotunda. Either way, the Public Square center will be connected to the HQ with an enclosed walkway above West 3rd.

There are two parking garages for BOK Park Plaza. The north
parking deck is this one, featuring 700 parking spaces and
leasable commercial spaces on the ground floor. SHW's
version may be a little wider and taller (Google).

  • SHW may have only one parking structure, located on West 3rd, north of Frankfort Avenue from the base HQ building. The BOK Park Plaza has two parking decks totaling 1,500 spaces. SHW's deck may be similar to BOK's 700-space north deck, albeit larger and have ground-floor commercial spaces.

The north edge of SHW's deck apparently will stay about 100 feet south of St. Clair so it won't necessitate demolishing or notching around 1350 W. 3rd. It isn't known if this deck will be designed to accommodate a future tower atop it. Geotech drillers measured the depths to bedrock below this and other SHW lots.

The biggest unknown at this point is how future development
partners might design the east side of West 6th Street and the
south side of St. Clair Avenue. Five years ago when Weston
Group owned this land, it proposed mostly residential uses
over stores and restaurants. This conceptual image looked
north on West 6th toward St. Clair (Weston).

  • Last but not least is the roughly 2 acres of SHW-owned land left over along the east side of West 6th and the south side of St. Clair. SHW will apparently not be developing this land for its HQ, now or in the future.

Instead, according to SHW HQ development team members, the goal is to partner with real estate developers to expand Warehouse District eateries, shops, structured parking and add new lodging south and east along the edges of the new SHW campus. The goal is to expand the district's street life and to create an urban campus desired by the young talent that SHW is trying to attract.

Although specific designs for SHW's buildings aren't yet completed, examples of Pickard Chilton's finished products are found worldwide. But it seems that many of SHW's inspirations are being drawn from the BOK Park Plaza and its surroundings. That may be due in part to SHW's conservatism if not outright stodginess. 

This image provided by the SHW design team shows an early
placeholder design to show what the BOK Park Plaza would
look like if built on the northwest corner of Superior Avenue
and West 3rd Street (contributed rendering).

Curiously absent from the HQ's spatial discussions is the relocation of several hundred SHW employees from a 128,000-square-foot flex-space office that SHW leases at 4770-4780 Hinckley Industrial Parkway in Cleveland.

This office space was opened after SHW acquired Minneapolis-based Valspar and ran out of space for more employees at SHW's offices in downtown Cleveland -- its HQ at 101 W. Prospect Ave. and the Skylight Office Tower, 1660 W. 2nd St.

Yet SHW said it intends to relocate to its new HQ downtown the offices for its Automotive Finishes Corp. located in Warrensville Heights. The research functions from the automotive unit will move to the new research and development (R&D) center in Brecksville.

SHW's existing R&D facility, the John G. Breen Technology Center, 601 Canal Rd., was donated by SHW to the City of Cleveland last July. The donation includes the 140,000-square-foot R&D center and 5.7 acres of land. City officials haven't revealed what they intend to do with the land, however the land is next to the newly extended Towpath Trail and the planned Canal Basin Park.


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