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By Ben Cathey | 


TOLEDO (13abc Action News) – At the Art Museum, it’s a building most will never go in, designed by one of history’s most famous architects. So how did Toledo end up with a Frank Gehry building?

“He opened a contest, you might say, for getting the designer…,” Dick Putney said. Putney spoke of a predecessor’s contest. He is professor emeritus at the University of Toledo.

When the University of Toledo needed a bigger, modern space for its art students, they invited dozens of architects to apply. The Pritzker Prize-winning Gehry won out.

“When we went to interview him… he was really interviewing us, to see if he wanted to work with us,” Putney said.

Putney met with the star architect and said the design was original to add to the existing Toledo museum.

“Really experimental, pushing the edge architecture,” Putney added.

Lead-coated copper panels will age to match the museum stone. But not everyone loved the sharp lines.

“We got both very positive and very negative responses to it.,” Putney said. “Some people didn’t want there to be a modern kind of building on the edge of the Old West End.”

 From the new to the old – what’s old is new again in one of Toledo’s most recognizable buildings. Potbelly owner Jeff Gibbs didn’t want something cookie cutter for his sandwich shop on Madison.

“Ours is one of the cooler buildings, and definitely a unique look,” Gibbs said.

On the back of the Hungtington Center sits a Bavarian-shotgun style building. Gibbs says it was originally a social club for OI executives.

“That’s perfect for us. So it’s very unique architecture,” Gibbs said. “It stands out when you tell people you’re in the German building downtown, they immediately know what that means.”

While the interior is purpose-built, the outside was barely touched. That was to celebrate both history and the brand.

“Part of our shop vibe is a little quirky. We don’t look for square spaces that are kind of vanilla.”



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