William Collins Interview, September 22 2006

William Collins, who grew up in Cleveland Heights, worked as an architect in Cleveland throughout most of the second half of the twentieth century. In this 2006 interview, Collins discusses his work on Euclid Avenue and shares his thoughts on other aspects of Cleveland's development. After describing his youth in Cleveland Heights, Collins briefly describes the various buildings he has worked on along Euclid Avenue, from Downtown to University Circle. He also offers his opinion on Cleveland's lakefront and the plans for its development. Collins talks about some of the challenges of making Cleveland a viable urban area, and discusses the impact of suburbanization and globalization.

Participants: Collins, William (interviewee) / Gibans, Nina (interviewer) / Yanoshik-Wing, Emma (participant)
Collection: American Institute of Architects
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Nina Gibans [00:00:00] Identify that I'm Nina Gibans, and you are... And I keep forgetting to do this. You are Bill Collins, retired architect. All right, so we're going to talk about neighborhood first and the influence of having the stability of living within a one-mile radius all your life.

Bill Collins [00:00:27] Well, most of my life, I, actually, I was born in Illinois, but we were... I was one and a half when we moved to Cleveland, where my dad worked at the Cleveland Clinic. He actually founded the GI Department at the Cleveland Clinic. So I kind of grew up with that atmosphere, and we lived on Demington Drive and we lived on Clarendon, and we've been thirty-seven years in this house. And I went to the local schools. The neighborhood has done nothing but increased in value, obviously, from the very beginning. If you take Cleveland Heights, this particular area has always been a very solid area. Of course, I could begin with all kinds of experiences of riding the streetcars all the way down, which of course went down Fairmount Boulevard, certainly one of the great streets of Cleveland, which incidentally is being repaved right now and is a historic landmark type of road. I would say that this particular area has pretty much stayed pretty much the same. It's very diverse and it has from children all the way up. And that makes it very solid. I think that the leadership of the city has been very good. Now, being a graduate of Heights High, when I went, there it was number two in the country and Shaker Heights was number one. And right now it's pretty sad because it's 85% Black and most of the people in this particular neighborhood send their children to private school. And I do go back. I just attended our 60th reunion graduation from Heights High in the 59th year because so many people were dying off, they wanted to get that behind them. And in 19, I believe it was '87, I was honored by the Honor Award of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame from my class at Heights. So it was a lot of fun. Matter of fact, the the 60th reunion was at Landerhaven and I had to lead all of the singing. And this one gal had written new words to songs that you know, we sang five songs and it wasn't fine. So that's the neighborhood. Obviously rode the streetcars down to 105th and Euclid, which is where we went to the movies most of the time, and out in Cedar Center was nothing but farmland, practically, and no public transportation out there. And of course, needless to say, the big fun was to go downtown to the Square and Higbee's and and Halle's and May Company and B. R. Baker, etc.

Nina Gibans [00:03:51] So how did you get down there?

Bill Collins [00:03:53] By streetcar.

Nina Gibans [00:03:55] All the way down.

Bill Collins [00:03:56] All the way down. And in many cases, if we went all the way down, we'd take the rapid transit, which was running then. So it was a very bubbling city, downtown, of course.

Nina Gibans [00:04:16] What are some of your favorite memories of those trips and specific buildings or specific experiences as you rode all the way downtown?

Bill Collins [00:04:26] Well, sometimes all the way or 105th. When we went to 105th, we went to the theater. Theaters. Alhambra and the State and 105th, and then they had the Trianon bowling lane there. And that was a great spot because it was originally a dance hall of the first rate. And of course, there was Fanny Farmer's Candy on the corner. There was a Clark's restaurant. And then, of course, they had a wonderful music store, and I played the drums all the way through high school and college and used to go down to get some drum stuff. And needless to say, I spent a lot of time at 105th, even to the point that, more recently of course, we did the W. O. Walker Center at 107th and Euclid. And when we... when I went to look at the site, they wouldn't even let me walk alone. They made a policeman join me.

Nina Gibans [00:05:42] Even though your music store was right on that corner?

Bill Collins [00:05:44] No, the music store... I'm talking recently when the W. O. Walker Center was built.

Nina Gibans [00:05:49] I remember your music store.

Bill Collins [00:05:50] And, yes, and Costello's music store. So. And then when we went all the way down, it was usually by rapid transit and memories were... I loved the escalators at the Higbee Company. And I always was in awe of the Terminal Tower and felt that that was a real icon. And I still feel it is, and Public Square, and you could hardly walk downtown without hitting people, there were so many people all the time. And so it was... You felt like you belonged.

Nina Gibans [00:06:28] Two things. What about the 105th Street Market? Was that part of your shopping?

Bill Collins [00:06:37] I did not do much of the shopping there. My mother actually had food shipped from the grocery store to our house, and we had... The milk was delivered by wagon and horse, and also wagon and horse every week was the vegetable trailer, and you could go out and pick out fresh vegetables right out in front of your house on Demington Drive. And that was tops, and it was interesting because when they delivered the milk to our house, the horse and the the milk cart would go to the next house by himself. So he went over to deliver the next house, so it was a...

Nina Gibans [00:07:31] Was the vegetable man Iggy?

Bill Collins [00:07:34] I don't remember the name.

Nina Gibans [00:07:35] Okay.

Bill Collins [00:07:36] But I remember we looked forward especially to the sweet truck that came, and they had sweets and that we went out and looked very carefully at.

Nina Gibans [00:07:47] And what about the iceman?

Bill Collins [00:07:50] And the iceman. And of course, they carried those big blocks. And of course, that was City Ice and Fuel up here on Lee Road, and this one guy would carry those things around. When we first moved into this house, we had an icebox with a separate door off of there, which I changed, obviously, and made that into a bathroom. And I still use the word icebox and my wife corrects me all the time. [laughs] It's called the refrigerator now.

Nina Gibans [00:08:22] Those are my memories, too. I grew up on Woodmere and Fairmount.

Bill Collins [00:08:26] Oh, well.

Nina Gibans [00:08:27] So that's why. But you went to Roxboro then.

Bill Collins [00:08:29] Yes. If you grew up on Woodmere, you must have known the Dimlichs? Colonel Dimlich was the bass in our quartet called the Polka Dots at Heights High. We we gave thirty productions our last year and we joined the competition on the Danny Kaye's Press Christmas Show. And we were one of the twelve accepted for the competition and we came in second.

Nina Gibans [00:08:55] Good for you.

Bill Collins [00:08:56] So that was quite a memory.

Nina Gibans [00:08:57] And what year is that?

Bill Collins [00:08:59] That was 1947, spring of '47.

Nina Gibans [00:09:04] That's fun. Back downtown. So you didn't take the Fairmount car all the way down?

Bill Collins [00:09:14] I did at some times, but mostly when we went all the way down, we were using the rapid.

Nina Gibans [00:09:20] Right. Okay. Some more buildings on Euclid Avenue that are really special parts of your [inaudible]?

Bill Collins [00:09:28] Sure. Well, obviously, the whole Millionaires' Row was something that we always looked at, and I did ride the Fairmount streetcar all the way down many times because of how to get to the Square to take the rapid. And so I was very aware of those types of things. I wasn't an architect then, and I didn't study the buildings too much, so I was fully aware of, as I said, the Millionaire... And then downtown, Bond Company, Sterling Lindner Davis, the Keith Building, of course, which I ended up having our office started there. We were in the Keith Building for twenty years and then college and, of course, the Cleveland Trust building at 9th and Euclid, of course, was one that I particularly remember and enjoyed looking at. And then the Terminal tower, of course, with my favorite, and then the Society Building was another one. So those were the main ones I looked at.

Nina Gibans [00:10:52] If you were located at Playhouse Square, you probably saw the transition from one kind of theater to the next, to the building up of the complex we have today.

Bill Collins [00:11:08] Yes, we did the remodeling in the lobby of the State Theater and Allen and actually the Palace. And interestingly enough, we were asked to remodel the Palace Theater entrance to make it into a store. And I said, you'll have to find another architect, because I ain't touching that. With all that marble and everything that's there. But I said I will help in terms of polishing all the brass doors in front and reviving it. So we did some remodeling inside for the...

Nina Gibans [00:11:45] Well, you won. You... [Collins: Yes.] Your vision won. And other remodeling? The City Club is an icon of Cleveland, so... [Collins: Yes.] Yes, that was a beautiful job. Talk a little bit about the challenge there.

Bill Collins [00:12:02] Well, it was a challenge, and my only role in that mainly was the floor plan, that I wasn't... And they ended up using the floor plan that I designed. But from there on, Mr. Bostwick and Kendall White really carried through the design from that spot on, which I think they did an excellent job.

Nina Gibans [00:12:28] I'm going to be methodical now because you are in your remarks here. I'm going to be methodical from all the way down through the Durham Tavern remodeling, this is all Euclid Avenue.

Bill Collins [00:12:43] Yes.

Nina Gibans [00:12:44] It really is. So why don't you start at Public Square and then move east?

Bill Collins [00:12:52] Well, I'm not quite sure, but maybe the 17th... I mentioned the theaters. And then at CSU, we received the commission to do the 17th-18th block and Euclid. And that was the largest project given by the State of Ohio that year. And that was a great challenge and a lot of fun, and it spread over many years. But that's the College of Urban Affairs, the new business school, the parking garage, and the four-story addition to the law library. So from from there on, of course, the Dunham Road was a very interesting project because we wanted to match the barn that no longer existed. It had burned down. And they wanted to move it from its original site so that it could be seen from Euclid. And then, obviously, many of the requirements changed because they wanted to do teaching there, and they wanted to be able to have various lighting effects. Well, when you think of a barn, you don't think about real fancy new lighting. And so that was kind of a difficult thing. And also back in the barn days, you didn't have air conditioning, but this had to have air conditioning. But they did not want to get into a full kitchen because code-wise you'd need an hour and a half doors and all that. But the air conditioning and heating and all of that had to be such so that it would not interfere with the teaching going on. So that had to be very isolated. And then we we did use barn, siding barn beams in the old-fashioned way, and the successful bidder was out of South Carolina, and it was just the time that they had a hurricane. And luckily, they were on top of the hill, but they couldn't get any of their workers there, so it was delayed until spring before we could actually build. So that was Dunham Tavern, and there's lots of other stories on it. As you go up the way, Cleveland Clinic, we've done a lot of the work there. We did the Gamma Knife Center. We did the the new outpatient pre-op/post-op area for the Clinic. And then we were chosen by Johnson [inaudible] to be the local architects on the new Eye Institute on Euclid at 105th. And although we didn't do the overall design, we did all the working drawings, specs, bidding, and supervised all the construction of that. And presently, they have just finished the new office building and new parking garage on Euclid. And they are presently... I asked yesterday and found that they're doing another parking garage on Euclid for the Clinic. Then, of course, at 107th Street was the W. O. Walker Center, which the original design set it back and had a lot of land in front of it. And that was revised to what you see today. And when it was originally designed, something that most people will never know is that the program actually was cut in half to the size you see it now, that actually, based on the number of people that needed help, it was at twice that amount and it was reduced by half. But they did not have the tower originally, and they were afraid of where all of these people would be staying overnight that would be coming to the center. So we developed this whole... all of these suites upstairs. And the same thing happened to the one that was being done in Columbus. And now it's my understanding, of course, that one of the reasons why it was turned over to University Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic, is that to go there—it was not mandatory, which it is in in Canada. In order to get your money for disability, you must attend and... But they don't in the United States. And to be blunt about it, the lawyers just make out with it and tell their guys to stay home, and so that's why it didn't get used as much as it was designed for. So...

Nina Gibans [00:18:03] Do you mean rehabilitation and...

Bill Collins [00:18:05] Exactly.

Nina Gibans [00:18:05] [inaudilbe] and all that.

Bill Collins [00:18:07] That's right. But it's very full right now, it's my understanding, between University and Cleveland Clinic.

Nina Gibans [00:18:14] That's a good thing and a good resolution.

Bill Collins [00:18:16] Yeah, but then going up, of course, we were involved on the Agnar Pytte building, but that's on Adelbert Road. Doesn't front on Euclid. So I think that the only thing I could say from there on is that for five years, I've been on the Architectural Review Board in East Cleveland, where Euclid is still there. And so we've had to deal with what to do in trying to make that very good.

Nina Gibans [00:18:52] Are you looking favorably on the transportation plan for University Circle, which would involve?

Bill Collins [00:19:03] Yes. I think it's good. I certainly hope it'll work. I can always remember we did a lot of work for Albert S. Porter, and I asked him about the subway downtown once, and he smiled at me and he said, Bill, all I did was say one sentence. And that was that the end of the idea of the tube downtown. And I said, Well, what was that? And he said, What are the businesses gonna do while you build it? And he said, that was the end of that discussion.

Nina Gibans [00:19:40] We could say the same thing now.

Bill Collins [00:19:41] Because the subway... But now but at least you're dealing with a lot less of a problem than what a subway would have brought. Well, it remains to be seen who is going to, whether it's... how well it's gonna work in bringing people down and which people. And for that, I'm not sure it's the cure-all, as I have made in some of my other remarks.

Nina Gibans [00:20:07] Right. All right. So. Let's go back to... Your favorite buildings are the Terminal Tower, Mather Mansion... Some of the buildings you did?

Bill Collins [00:20:25] Right.

Nina Gibans [00:20:26] And some of the buildings you... preceded your being there, right?

Bill Collins [00:20:30] Right. Trinity Cathedral and so forth. That's the first time I ever heard of the word columbarium, and we ended up doing in addition to the columbarium at Trinity Cathedral and, which incidentally was interesting because we designed the Columbarium for St. Paul's Church here, which is very good. I say that because my niche is already there with the... The urn is already inside the niche [laughs] for my wife and I.

Nina Gibans [00:21:01] Maybe others need to know what that word means.

Bill Collins [00:21:06] Well, it's the spot in, preferably in a cemetery or church, for the holding of the ashes of the deceased and completely accepted by the churches today as a means of final interment.

Nina Gibans [00:21:29] You've had quite an impact on Euclid Avenue, I would say, after the litany of buildings that you just reported on. About the restoration process, how do you view the new restoration of the Euclid Avenue? You've talked about the subway before and a little bit about what's going on.

Bill Collins [00:21:54] Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people have zeroed in on it, and I think that, very strongly I think, the AIA, American Institute of Architects, is concerned and is a good group to carry through with this. Of course, Bob Gaede has spent a lot of time with it. And I think here's probably the most important spot that I personally have been involved in. I'm the only original member of the Midtown Design Review and Midtown Cleveland. And so since 1981, any of those things going up on Euclid Avenue has come in front of our committee, and that committee is made up of people, architects and people from the City Planning Commission. So there's a good liaison there. And I think really that is a major coup area because when we first moved onto Prospect, the ladies of the night were all over the place and the security was very poor. And today there are no ladies of the night that I know of, and the area is very secure. I think it's rated the most secure area in Cleveland now. But the buildings have always been a very important thing to our group, and I've watched that now since '81, so you can figure out that's, what, twenty-five years.

Nina Gibans [00:23:31] Right. So you've been part of the upswing.

Bill Collins [00:23:38] Indeed. And my hope is that when you go up, for instance, you go up Prospect now, it's a lot different than it was when we moved in there in 1981. And I think that's the type of thing that gets done and is viable.

Nina Gibans [00:23:59] So you think that once all the building is finished on Euclid Avenue, when all the digging, all the all the renewal, that the businesses will come back again.

Bill Collins [00:24:09] No, that's a big question mark to me. I'm not... I think that's a very difficult question to answer. And along that line, I don't mind saying that I just finished The World Is Flat by Friedman, and I think it has... points a lot of things in terms of city populations, where work is and where commerce is going, where our religions are going, and the world becoming flat, where people from a bedroom in India in the back hills can be conversant to everyone in the world. And we've only begun to see what's going to happen. And it's a very eye-opening book. It's been number one on the bestseller list for ages, and I heartily recommend it. So I find it very difficult to know exactly how to get people back into the major cities. And of course, Cleveland has got a reputation now that's pretty low. And I don't think many of us would walk down Euclid Avenue at night.

Nina Gibans [00:25:23] Let's move to the lakefront. You want us to go back to some of the plans that we've had for a long time on the drawing boards.

Bill Collins [00:25:37] Well, I'm thinking that all of them have the same kind of ideal being three juries over three years at Kent State School of Architecture, that was, that was, one of their programs was what to do at the lakefront. And I frankly was very impressed. Matter of fact, there was one solution I think should have just been taken and done, but they respected all of the museums and adding more. They made a complete community out of the area on the waterfront, complete with neighborhood stores and all the rest of it, that really would form a key community. And I feel that that's extremely important. The lakefront is a blessing that very few people in the entire world have, and I'm not sure we're taking advantage of it. When John Crawford was the building editor for The Plain Dealer, he went to the AIA. The president was Ronald Spahn, and he said that if you helped design, AIA, the mall to the sea, I will publicize it in The Plain Dealer and to seven states, all the mid-American states. So anyway, they formed a committee and they met about three times when Ronald Spahn was working there then. He said, Why don't you join that? And I said, okay, I would. Well, the next meeting, rather than sixteen people, there were ten. And then there were five, then there were three. [To] make a long story short, I designed the whole thing, drew it all and gave it to John Crawford, and it was sent to seven states, but there was an example of what one person could do. And interestingly enough, I was at the show last night at the Kent State School at 9th and Euclid, or 9th and Prospect.

Nina Gibans [00:27:40] The Design Institute.

Bill Collins [00:27:41] And as you enter on the left, believe it or not, is a huge model of the mall to the sea. And I'll bet you, not many people know that around here. And I think you've got a wonderful group between the College of Urban Design, which is probably the second in the country, at CSU, and this Kent State deal and AIA and the Midtown Review. I can't see why that wouldn't be a tremendous collaboration in what to do. And as you may know, part of what's coming up is next year is the 150th anniversary of the AIA. And I'm on that committee and Jud Kline is heading that.

Nina Gibans [00:28:31] Yeah.

Bill Collins [00:28:31] And one of the things is, what can we do? And I was at the meeting last week and I said, you know, here we are talking again. How are we going to get something done? And so that's where I am. So it's...

Nina Gibans [00:28:47] You're aware of the Cleveland Goes Modern exhibit that we're doing.

Bill Collins [00:28:52] Not fully.

Nina Gibans [00:28:53] Well. It's about single residential architecture from 1930 to 1970.

Bill Collins [00:29:00] Uh huh.

Nina Gibans [00:29:01] And there are real contributions that this area has, had made that are still around and loved by their owners and so forth, that's never been addressed. So.

Bill Collins [00:29:15] Well, good.

Nina Gibans [00:29:15] Yeah. So that should happen also.

Bill Collins [00:29:18] But Lakefront, I think, is something that should definitely go ahead and be developed with very good... Like I'm, I am not in favor at all of the remodeling the Innerbelt downtown. Of course it takes our building, among other things. But regardless of that, I think they're creating a mess. I think it's gonna be a complete wrong, and I think it's very expensive and I think it's all dead wrong. I think ODOT is only caring about bringing people 50 miles an hour through downtown Cleveland. But I think it's gonna be a mess on Chester and all of the rest on how they're trying to reorient the traffic pattern. Doesn't work in my book.

Nina Gibans [00:30:05] So that's one of the mistakes that we're about to make.

Bill Collins [00:30:09] I think so. I definitely do.

Nina Gibans [00:30:11] What are some of the ones that we have made?

Bill Collins [00:30:15] I don't think too many. I think the problems are the typical ones of any major city. You know that one time we had a lot of the trade coming to Cleveland, which we don't much anymore. The Public Auditorium was pretty active, of course, in the old days. And it's hard to see. To put it bluntly, obviously, the suburbs made it more convenient for shopping and where you could park for free and trying to go downtown and park and pay and all of that. But why would anyone do it? So you tell me, what what will bring 'em down again? Well, you've got the center of Playhouse Square that has a drawing point. I think that's good. I think the Public Square has a drawing point from time to time. You have the stadium and Jacobs Field, which is... Did you see that article in the paper today about Jacob's Field being Mediterranean Place in Monopoly?

Nina Gibans [00:31:32] Right.

Bill Collins [00:31:32] The lowest [laughs] on the board. Anyway, I think that Ohio City is a representative of something that's been done. I think that, of course, Bob Corner's trying to do something now, and I think Zaremba is starting to do something, and a lot of... And some stuff over on Saint Clair and maybe by these... If you could get people back downtown to live there, you're going to take care of things. But right now, I don't know how you... What is it that's going to get them back? Certainly, the suburb people come down there to work every day, and it would be convenient if they could stay there. But where are they going to stay? And the security is just not there or the image isn't there.

Nina Gibans [00:32:32] Well, we have to live another hundred years.

Bill Collins [00:32:35] Maybe.

Nina Gibans [00:32:36] So the biggest challenges are, for you, security, money. We haven't talked about the schools.

Bill Collins [00:32:47] Well, I just... The schools are schools, and of course, that takes a lot of debate, but I guess the media has the... They're the ones that have given me what I hear. And then there's been controversy all the time. I have never really been a... I've never been in favor of this busing that's been going on everywhere, and I think that's bad for our own neighborhoods. I think people live in areas where they can go to school, preferably walking to elementary schools and to just bus everybody has been expensive, maybe at the price of the education.

Nina Gibans [00:33:37] So what are we going to do about it?

Bill Collins [00:33:42] Well, I think, like everything, I think the leadership is the key. And you can have people everywhere but they need leadership. And I think that we're promoting democracy all around... to all of the countries of the world, and I think our own politicians and our own scene is just terrible. And I think that's a very bad example, like when elections coming up, and what we're gonna be facing the next month or two and people yelling at each other and the amount of bashing of the president in terms of the entire world today, I think that's a shame. Even if you disagree with him. I think that the political aspects are very poor. I don't know what you do about it. Maybe The World is Flat has got our answers and maybe we ought to all read it and take some good lessons from it because I think we have to be creative, and that leadership is, to me, the key.

Nina Gibans [00:34:57] Is there a city that you can point to that's done what you think should be done?

Bill Collins [00:35:04] Well, I think that the answer to that is probably no, but we do have a timeshare in Charleston, South Carolina, in the historic district, and I think they've done a wonderful job there. And it's just like the old times with a bunch of people and all the rest of it. If you want an example of community living, there's nothing finer than Chautauqua Institution, just 300 courses that you can take in two months and you're [in] complete secure there with the children, and everyone smiles and talks to each other, and not all solid cars that park and you walk, and it's got a good religious basis and a wonderful program. And so therefore, I call that leadership again and... But other than that, I'm not that acquainted with all the major cities. Certainly, I don't need to go to New York too much. I don't need to go into Detroit or any of the other cities, so I don't know. I think they're all having trouble.

Nina Gibans [00:36:20] So the wages of vision, where there's a window of opportunity, still comes back to you in a way, doesn't it?

Bill Collins [00:36:31] Yes, I think that's our icon, along with the Square and Terminal Tower. I think that's... And I think we did a disastrous... When we tore down the buildings on the Millionaire[s'] Row, because my mother used to do knitting and she would give knitting, and that was through one of the houses down there. Each of those houses had been, you know, used for other methods, but then one by one they got torn down.

Nina Gibans [00:37:02] Well, we throw away history every day. We do.

Bill Collins [00:37:06] Well said.

Nina Gibans [00:37:10] What would you like to discuss that we haven't discussed?

Bill Collins [00:37:17] Well, I think the key is that I don't know how you get people back in the cities. And it seems to me that you have people, College of Urban Affairs or anything having to do with city or government and all of that, why they haven't been able to determine how to make these cities more viable. I don't know why that isn't, hasn't been done by good leadership. And here in Cleveland, you have everybody going, a good percentage going, down for business, but it's also leaking away from it. And where it's going to end is not very happy. And my big problem is I'm not sure what to do, what is going to bring people back. And you're certainly not going to, even if you had free parking downtown, you're gonna have to have something that is gonna really draw them versus driving five minutes to a local suburban spot and park your car and go in and do your shopping and get it over with. Everybody's in a hurry today. And a lot of people, everybody working with their little computers at home now and in eBay and a lot of places, you don't, you just don't even go shopping anymore. So it's... It's a very interesting problem. And where it's going to end, I'm not sure.

Nina Gibans [00:38:57] Are you thinking that the city will shrink in size, which is one of the ideas that, you know, that we should seek to remain happy with size and understand what that means rather than growth?

Bill Collins [00:39:21] That's a good question, and I'm not sure I can really answer that properly. I think that the course that we're going now, all you have to do is look at the empty buildings on Euclid Avenue and you can see that something is happening and has happened, and how to bring business back and make money. I think maybe those days are gone. I don't know how you do it. What's going to bring people back to what would be at B.R. Baker or some of these other places? Certainly you're going to have to have parking because people are going to come and.... And I don't... I don't think the suburbanites are going to necessarily use public transportation. They're going to be in cars. And if more of the jobs leave Cleveland, then there'll be less people using the public transportation. And just... So it's not a happy picture. And whether you want the convention crowd, and of course [Mayor Frank] Jackson is talking about gambling now. And so I just say that the leadership has got to be the key. In the meantime, I think that people can look at Midtown Design Review as a way to handle a community area that's doing something and collaborate with the City of Cleveland so that you can... I think there's a lot that can happen there, along with Ohio City and the lakefront development. And it seems to me that that part will help. I ran into a guy last night who was apparently with the architectural firm that had been involved with the Bearings Inc. project. And when that came in front of Design Review, I made the point of, well, if you're gonna build a new spot and there's enough land, why wouldn't you have parking for all of your people? And why wouldn't you want to come out at noon and have some, some area to, some landscaping? And why wouldn't you want security with a fence? And of course, that's basically what they did. Well, he was saying last night that I was one of the few people that agreed with what they were trying to do. Granted, it didn't look quite right. It was a modern type of thing, and it wasn't according to the way the old buildings were built. But I'm not sure that that's the way to do it today, the new buildings.

Nina Gibans [00:42:08] Right. So you... So that building, which maybe could use more land around it? Yes?

Bill Collins [00:42:19] No. Not that building. Matter of fact, the problem with that building was they had too much land.

Nina Gibans [00:42:24] I see.

Bill Collins [00:42:25] They were... And they were able to just... They didn't need that much. But I still feel that it's... If you're going to really build a new business downtown, why wouldn't you have your own parking? And why wouldn't you try to make it nice for your your employees at noon?

Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:42:48] I'm unfamiliar with the Bearings Inc. project. Where is it? What is it? Can you just describe it, I guess, physically and geographically a little bit?

Bill Collins [00:42:57] Yeah. Well, Bearings Inc. is on Euclid at about 45th Street and it... Bearings Inc. was originally founded, very involved with John Kunin, who was head of Midtown... Midtown Cleveland for a long time. Very wonderful person and was a great believer in building products in... Made in the USA. And he was very determined in that they made bearings of all sorts for all kinds of anything that you wanted. And when he retired, the new person—I can't think of his name right now—expanded from just bearings into buying other businesses. And so they became more diverse. But it really started off as one of the big bearing industries in the country.

Nina Gibans [00:44:06] Is this area still the major area for small parts? It was at one time. In the world.

Bill Collins [00:44:16] No, I wouldn't think so. I would say that as the book The World is Flat is pointing out that almost anything can be standard manufacturing, they can do it for 1/10 of what it costs here by going to China, India or Malaysia or any place else. And so what they're saying is that we have to be creative and be pioneers in developing new things, which we've always led in. But in the meantime, though, these countries are also getting very heavy on education. I can't remember the quote right now, but I think it's 75,000 graduates a year in master's degrees in Business Administration from India alone. And they're going to be... The competition is now going to be manufacturing. And they're pointing out that they're getting a better education in their science and technology than we are in the United States. And that's going to affect everything we're doing. And so as we're into this whole global business, the whole business of our natural resources is extremely important. The global warming or whatever is an extremely important thing in terms of the whole world, because he's pointing out as the world gets flat, more people are going to get used to what we're getting, what we have. And when that happens, we're going to need more resources and we already lack them. And he figures it's going to be ten times the resources are going to be needed and how are they gonna take care of that? And so that's a very serious matter that he's talking about. The other is the religions have to learn how to get along and and that peace better be at the bottom of this so that... And then very interestingly, in China and in India, they were pointing out the trouble that they were having with another country. It's been a very famous thing, and it started to go away rather than having a war because they were doing business with each other through the process that we're doing today, and that the companies of United States were over there in both of those places. So when you start seeing that, what you're starting to see from my perspective at age 77 is that a lot is going to happen in the next six years. It's going to be... The playing field is going to enlarge and there's going to be a lot of things that are very important, like religion, terrorism, global warming. These are major subjects. Now, that's a little far away from Euclid, but it's going to affect, in my opinion, everybody. And I think with the manufacturing jobs leaving, I think there's a lot less people that are finding work today. And I think that's very serious.

Nina Gibans [00:47:43] Do you want... Is there anything else you want to say? Nothing happier?

Bill Collins [00:47:51] [laughs]

Nina Gibans [00:47:52] Well, unfortunately, I think we all should read the book.

Bill Collins [00:47:54] I do belong to the visiting committee of the School of Business, and I think that CSU is just doing a tremendous job. I think [Michael] Schwartz is just what we need downtown, and he's expanding. And I think that that is a key area to bringing back education into Cleveland. And I think that that is a get a gold star. And I think that that probably is a good spot to end. And I think also that College of Environmental Science with Kent State and the College of Urban Design, it seems to me that these tycoon areas, along with Midtown Corridor, that seems to me that there's something cooking in the AIA and how it... So it ends up with leadership and pinpointing exactly what can be done, which I'm not an expert. That's kind of where I'd leave it.

Nina Gibans [00:49:02] Great. Fun.

Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:49:04] Thank you.

Nina Gibans [00:49:06] Okay.

Bill Collins [00:49:07] Pleasure.

American Institute of Architects

The American Institute of Architects (Cleveland Chapter) Oral History Project. In 2006, in collaboration with Nina Friedlander Gibans, the Center began collecting oral history interviews with some of Cleveland’s best-known architects. 26 interviews in all were captured by Gibans and a team of researchers and students from the Center. These interviews help bring the city’s great buildings to life, and shine a light on current issues in architecture and urban design, making the series a major…