New Third District Police Station welcomes community with public art

The Cleveland Police Department will be bringing their new $17.5 million Third District Police Station, 4501 Chester Avenue, online within a matter of weeks, but the nuanced impetus behind the design is not as obvious as the structure itself.

"Of course it's a police station, but it's also intended to be a community space," says LAND Studio's managing director Gregory Peckham, adding that the property includes areas accessible to the public for meetings and gatherings. "They really want it to be a place that's open and welcoming to the neighborhood -- not just a place where bad things happen, but a real resource for the community."

Bob Rose, Stephen Yusko and Stephen Manka designed the steel and glass sconces, which were manufactured by Rose Iron Works. Signature Sign constructed the illuminated archway, which was the creative product of Laura Cooperman.

"The large gateway feature is really about reflecting the character of the neighborhood in the building itself," says Peckham, noting the references to area churches and architecture in Cooperman's design. "It's really meant to communicate that this is a place for community."

"Laura is a fantastic young individual. I was fascinated by her approach to design and representing the community," says Rose of his fellow contributing artist. "This was her first venture away from paper."

The design for the sconces was driven by comments fielded by the officers and staff members who will be relocating from the current Third District facility at 10700 Chester Avenue. They expressed a desire for something that would honor the pride, history and culture of their profession, hence the iconic globe design.

"The challenge of that was: how do you get a vintage feel with a new modern building?" recalls Peckham. "I think (the Rose team) did a great job of striking a balance."

Peckham notes the new station's environs are not highly walkable. Hence, the three points of illumination "create a sort of lantern that I think will be a welcoming presence and humanize the building a little bit."

One thing the sconces won't do is stain the building.

"They're all carefully ground and polished hollow steel construction," says Rose, "except where they touch the wall. That's stainless because we don't want rust to drip on the wall."

For Rose, however, the project also allowed him to symbolically connect with the Third District and the man who helms it, Commander Patrick Stephens. Rose respects Stephens for his commitment to the neighborhood and attention to issues such as scrapping, but he also helped out on an issue that was very close to home.

Rose was having trouble with neighborhood kids breaking his shop windows during business hours. He knew which kids were doing the deeds, and that they attended nearby Case Elementary.

"Rather than penalize the kids and haul them off to Juvenile Court and all that junk, I thought I'd go talk to them," recalls Rose. "Pat Stephens took the time to meet me and meet with the kids."

After that meeting, the vandalism stopped, which Rose credits in no small part to Stephens and his effort in a the matter, which considering the ongoing headlines, is something that could use a little publicity.

"The whole concept of the building is to change the perception that police are enemies," says Rose. "The whole concept in the design of the building was to be welcoming and friendly."

"There's a lot of not-so-positive views of the police in Cleveland," adds Peckham. "These guys are doing good work and this facility is part of presenting that."

The designs were chosen by the Cleveland Public Art Committee from a pool of six different artists who were invited (and subsequently paid a fee) to develop public art concepts for the new station. Such is the matter of course as the city sets aside 1.5 percent of dollars associated with every new capital project for the inclusion of public art. In partnership with the city, Land Studio manages the public art portion of each project by finding potential artists and design concepts, and overseeing construction and implementation.

"I think it's really important that the city of Cleveland be recognized," says Peckham, "because they're investing a lot of money in artist and artwork and these projects."

"A Way Home," Stephen Yusko's latest exhibition, will be showing at the William Busta Gallery, 2731 Prospect Avenue, May 1st  – 30th, with an opening reception on Friday, May 1st from 5 to 9 p.m.

Erin O'Brien
Erin O'Brien

About the Author: Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.