CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Clinic announced on Friday that it will invest $1.3 billion in capital projects including new buildings and renovation of facilities in Ohio, Florida, and London.

To help make way for one of the biggest projects, a new, 1-million-square-foot Neurological Institute between East 86th Street and East 90th Street on its main campus in Cleveland, the Clinic said it would demolish the historic Cleveland Play House complex at East 85th Street and Euclid Avenue.

The Play House includes the theater’s original 1926 building and a 1983 expansion designed by architect Philip Johnson, a Cleveland native who became one of America’s most important 20th-century architects.

The Clinic acquired the Play House property in 2009 when the theater company moved to Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

Preservation advocates raise alarm over whether Cleveland Clinic will demo Play House complex expanded by architect Philip Johnson

Cleveland Playhouse sits illuminated in 2009. (Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer)
The Plain Dealer

In the Clinic’s announcement, CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic said that “our services have never been in greater demand.’’

He said the new construction projects “reflect the needs of our organization and will ensure cutting-edge care for the next generation of patients. By building, partnering, and innovating with technology, we are preparing current and future caregivers to deliver the best care.”

The Clinic released a rendering of the Neurological Institute building, which will be designed by London-based Michael Hopkins Architects and Cleveland-based Stantec. Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer requested a site plan for the Cleveland projects, but Clinic did not release one Friday.

On the main campus, in addition to the Neurological Institute building, the Clinic plans to expand its Cole Eye Institute building and expand research facilities through its commitment to the Cleveland Innovation District.

Cleveland Clinic announces plans for two new buildings

A 2019 rendering depicts a glassy new addition to the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, right. The Clinic said Friday it would break ground on the expansion in a week.Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

The district is a joint project of the Clinic, MetroHealth System, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University to collaborate on research and job creation. The State of Ohio and JobsOhio invested $200 million in the project, and the Clinic invested $300 million.

The new projects announced by the Clinic will be funded in large part by philanthropy, and will add more than 2,000 indirect and 7,500 direct jobs, the institution said.

The Clinic’s news release stated that the Neurological Institute will provide inpatient and outpatient care, along with imaging and surgical services and research laboratories.

The building’s mission will include investigating the function of the human brain and developing new neurological treatments.

Neurological services are currently located at several locations on the main Clinic campus, which stretches across 165 acres between the Midtown neighborhood and University Circle. The new facility is intended to bring neurological caregivers and services together in a single place to facilitate collaboration.

The design and planning of the project are supported by a $10 million donation from the Charles L. Shor Foundation, the Clinic said.

In honor of the gift, the Clinic is naming its epilepsy center The Charles Shor Epilepsy Center. Work on the project will begin this year with the first patient expected to be seen in 2026.

Appreciating Cesar Pelli's buildings in Cleveland

The Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, a Cesar Pelli building, will soon be expanded.Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

Construction of the neurological building will require the demolition of the Clinic’s “P” building, a surgery center at the northeast corner of E. 90th Street and Carnegie Avenue. Also to be demolished is the attached “PP” parking garage.

The area to be cleared by the demolition of the Play House complex “will initially be used to support the building of the new neurological building where all equipment and vehicles will be contained on Cleveland Clinic property during construction,’’ the news release said. “This will ensure that local residents have uninterrupted access to parking in their neighborhood during this time.”

Preservation advocates raise alarm over whether Cleveland Clinic will demo Play House complex expanded by architect Philip Johnson

Architect Philip Johnson brought together old and new elements in his 1983 design of the Cleveland Play House complex at 8500 Euclid Ave. The Plain Dealer

Demolishing the Play House is likely to stir controversy. As of Friday, 3,762 people had signed a Change.org petition protesting the possibility of the demolition, first reported last year by a blogger based on anonymous sources.

The petition stated that the Play House building and grounds have historic significance not just for their design, but for the “long history and the many people who have graced its stages and many patrons and volunteers who have called this place home.”

Kathleen Crowther, executive director and president of the Cleveland Restoration Society, the city’s leading historic preservation advocacy group, said that seeing the Play House complex come down would be a serious loss.

She urged the Clinic to consider establishing a fund to preserve historic churches adjacent to its campus, including East Mount Zion Baptist and Liberty Hill Baptist.

“We are a community that is enriched by these buildings and places and they do live in people’s hearts and in their emotions,’’ Crowther said.

A Clinic spokesperson declined to respond to Crowther’s statements.

The Clinic said in its news release that potential long-term plans for the Play House site could include “a new mixed-use neighborhood development project.”

Further east on the main campus, at Euclid Avenue, between E. 100th and E. 105th streets, the Clinic plans to add 150,000 square feet to its Cole Eye Institute building, plus additional renovations. The project will add additional operating rooms and procedure rooms.

Donors Jeffrey A. Cole and his wife Patricia O’Brien Cole have made a $31 million commitment for the expanded clinical and surgical capabilities at the Cole Institute, and to enhance research and education there.

The expansion will be named the Jeffrey and Patricia Cole Building, the Clinic said.

An additional $10 million grant from the Timken Foundation of Canton helped support the planning for the Cole expansion and established The Louise Timken Ophthalmic Education Center, the Clinic said.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project will be held on Friday, May 20, and the completion of the institute’s expansion is expected at the end of 2025.

Other capital projects announced by the Clinic Friday include:

– Mentor Hospital, scheduled to open in 2023

– Fairview Hospital renovations to address patient and caregiver needs

– Weston Hospital in Florida, expansion of top floor of the bed tower

– London Hospital in the United Kingdom, which opened in March

The Clinic said the new projects will accompany plans for 400,000 square feet of research space envisioned in the Cleveland Innovation District.

The Clinic called the project the largest research effort in its history. Its goals include positioning “Northeast Ohio at the forefront of pathogen research and preparing for the next pandemic.”

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Cleveland Clinic announces $1.3 billion in projects, including new Neurological Institute on its main campus – cleveland.com

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