Tuesday, April 29, 2008

North Side of Lindell Blvd Between Taylor and Newstead in the Central West End

My artistic pastiche interpretation of the streetscape on this critical block. Click on the image for a larger version. This is the urban fabric threatened by the demolition of the San Luis Apartments.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lost Opportunity

So apparently the Skyhouse development has been cancelled. Too bad for the historic, if maligned buildings that once sat on the corner--the proposed site of the new tower.As can be seen above, the hole in the ground is now starting fill up with garbage.On a more positive note, it is a great opportunity to see how foundations in St. Louis's past were constructed.Note: this link to the Post-Dispatch article won't last forever. Uh, guys, in the future could you wait to knock down buildings until you're certain your project is going to go through? That block of Washington could have definitely supported a rehabbed storefront.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

San Luis Apartments

I scouted out the San Luis Apartments on Lindell on Saturday afternoon; the weather was beautiful and only interrupted by dead rechargeable batteries in my camera. These are my photos of the building, which is one of the newest buildings on the block. There is continuing coverage at Ecology of Absence. On Tuesday, I will present a pastiche of what will be lost if the San Luis is demolished.

The Archdiocese has purchased and plans to demolish this building for a parking lot; you be the judge of whether this building should be spared.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Civil War Era Building Still in Limbo?

As I first discovered on the Built St. Louis website, the strange, half timber building across the from the Syndicate Trust seems to hold much older secrets.The building, on closer examination, is really a faux half-timber house, and hides old brick construction behind. I remember when this restaurant was open; it looked like a dump so I never went in.As the above two photos show, there are actually cast iron columns on the ground floor; Built St. Louis reports that the building might be from the Civil War.As it is, it sits rotting and in limbo; the Roberts Brothers apparently want to tear it down, but considering they'll be trying to sell units in their tower nearby, I have a feeling it will not be going anywhere anytime soon. An examination of the brick on the alley wall gives few clues to the original purpose of this property; you can often "read" a building by looking at its irregularities and patchwork, but not this building.The old fire insurance maps from show the building here. From close examination of the 1909 map, it appears the building, at the northeast corner of Locust and Tenth, had a series of small rooms in the back.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Eads Bridge Mural

This is the famous mural of the Eads Bridge that is supposed to follow you as you walk by. It's hard to explain, and the two pictures are supposed to illustrate it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Missouri Capitol

Last summer I was in Jefferson City for a wedding. I had a chance before the wedding to take in downtown, which is a strange mix on High Street of well-preserved buildings, while on the other side of the Capitol it is a wasteland of parking lots.The Capitol itself is one of the most beautiful in the country, designed much in the same style as Michelangelo's dome for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.The inside is equally as ornate as the outside.The dome dominates the skyline from miles around, sitting majestically on a bluff of the Missouri River.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Post-Suburban World

I normally post pictures of architecture on this blog, and rarely take the soapbox. In today's post, I am getting on the soapbox, and very well might offend a few of my readers. Regardless, I feel I need to say it.

The economic viability of suburbia is officially dead. I always believed that it would happen, but never in my own lifetime. It happened quickly, and unexpectedly in the last year, and will culminate this summer.

I am talking about gas prices hitting an average of $4.00 this summer. Friday evening, after sitting in traffic trying to get home, I actually had to stop and get gas so I didn't have to worry about running out the rest of the way home. It cost me $40 to fill up; when I was in high school (which was not that long ago) I could fill up my car for under $10.

To put it bluntly, most Americans will no longer be able to afford to drive wherever they want and live wherever they want. You will no longer be able to flee to greener pastures when the paint starts to peal a little bit on your house: new houses, once a luxury purchase for all people except the very wealthy, will return to being luxuries. You might have to live in a house that is 10, 20 or even 100 years old. Do you realize some people in Europe have to live in houses that are 400-500 years old? Quite frankly, you might be forced to move to a neighborhood that requires you to take mass transit to work. I know it will be rough, but remember 95% of the world's population already has to deal with public transportation, so you'll survive.

I read last year when I just moved back to St. Louis that Lincoln County has become the next hot place for St. Louisans to move. Do you realize how far out Lincoln County is?! America once had a surplus of farmland, meaning that we could produce more food that the population needed, allowing us to ship grain to countries wracked by drought. Because of suburban sprawl, we no longer can feed ourselves; the best farmland in the word is being covered with concrete. My family has owned a farm near Peoria, Illinois for over 130 years. There is a real possibility in my own lifetime that the farm, 30 miles from Peoria, will be surrounded by sprawl; land prices are already spiking in the area in anticipation.

Sell your gas guzzling SUV, unless you really need it. I know people with physical disabilities, musicians who play the bass violin and parents with children with wheelchairs that actually need SUV's, but let's be honest, you do not need an SUV. People who park next to you can't see to safely back out, and SUV's have proven more deadly to people who are hit by them than regular cars.

Stop getting perverse joy out of watching the city of St. Louis fail. It is literally a spectators' sport for many St. Louis suburbanites to talk about how horrible the city is, and how run down it is. Have some pride in where you live, and realize that the suburbs are literally like parasites, sucking the lifeblood from the city. The reason the city doesn't have enough money is because government subsidies now favor the suburbs, and St. Louis literally has one third of the population it did in the 1950's. Likewise, the citizens left behind in the city make less money, so the city of St. Louis literally has somewhere around 25% of the tax revenue it earned in the 1950's.

Earlier this year a mother committed suicide and murdered her children after her car was towed. She could no longer get to work without a car. Do you realize how absurd this is? The idea that someone could not get to work without a car would have been totally unthinkable 100 years ago in the city of St. Louis.

I do not consider people who live in the suburbs monsters, and I realize issues of safety and good schools that are not full of criminals are major and valid reasons to live in the suburbs. I likewise do not expect anyone to have to worry about their children getting beaten up at school just so they can live in the city.

But the next time you're filling up and complaining about your commute, realize that your way of life will probably not outlive your children. Gas prices are not going down--ever--because the reasons they went up can't be fixed. China and India are growing exponentially, and Iraq is not going to be pumping at capacity any time soon. Besides, why the heck should oil producing countries undercut their own countries' revenue for the benefit of oil junkies?

Today, not tomorrow is when everyone needs to start thinking about living in a world where gas is $10 a gallon. Trust me, it's not far off.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

St. Louis Place Church

St. Louis Place itself, a long skinny park in the neighborhood that bears its name, is a jewel that has become tarnished. What could literally be the "town green" of a small town is overgrown, its private and public institutions largely forgotten.This church, which if I remember correctly is Lutheran, is one example of the architecture that should be drawing people to the neighborhood.Alas, it sits across the street from the oddest circle of asphalt in the city, seen here.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.