St. Louis’ Flying Saucer Saved.  Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL) Preserving mid-century modern architecture has become a hot-button issue around the country as aging icons are becoming old enough to be called historic. Last year a citizen-led preservation effort to save the unlikely icon in St. Louis, a threatened gas-station-turned-fast-food-restaurant with a distinctive concrete saucer, was launched. Now, it looks like the building will once again become a burrito stand as the developer has confirmed the building will house a Starbucks and a Chipotle. NextSTL has the details.

 

Competition> Envision a Future for the Pruitt-Igoe Site

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, July 21, 2011
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Pruitt-Igoe as planned. (all images courtesy Pruitt-Igoe Now)

Building on the renewed interest in the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis, a new competition looks to engage the history and inspire possible future uses for the 33 acre site. Nearly 40 years after the demolition–which Charles Jencks claimed signaled the death of Modern architecture itself–most of the site remains cleared, filled in with trees and grasses that have sprung up over time. Organized by the newly formed non-profit Pruitt-Igoe Now, the competition brief asks, “Can this site itself be liberated from a turbulent and mythologized past through re-imagination and community engagement?” Read More

Future of Preservation in St. Louis Looks Modern

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

When St. Louis architects Schwarz and Van Hoefen designed a 120-foot diameter flying saucer in 1967 along the city’s Grand Boulevard, historic preservation was likely the last thing on their minds. Today faced with demolition, the structure’s concrete cantilever has garnered tremendous public outcry and has become a local icon. (It’s facebook page numbers over 11,600 fans, trouncing the 850 fans of Chicago’s threatened Prentice Tower.) It’s hard to imagine a gas station turned drive through restaurant could muster such support with such an anti-urban background, but the Del Taco building isn’t leaving without a fight.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Material Landscapes in St. Louis

Midwest
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Asphalt tattoo in Brooklyn by Paula Meijerink (Courtesy Paula Meijerink)

Asphalt tattoo in Brooklyn by Paula Meijerink (Courtesy Paula Meijerink)

Seemingly sliced into the asphalt of a Brooklyn street beneath the Manhattan Bridge is an unexpected glass-filled “tattoo” designed by landscape architect Paula Meijerink, founder of Boston-based WANTED Landscape. Meijerink is among eight landscape architects featured in Material Landscapes, a recently opened exhibition at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis running through January 21st, 2012. Work from the eight firms including D.I.R.T  studio, dlandstudio, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Legge Lewis Legge, PEG office, Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies, and ESKYIU is presented in photographs and drawings.

Curator Liane Hancock, senior lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, chose projects ranging from a vertical container garden in Hong Kong to a waterfront in Milwaukee to reflect innovative use of materials in landscape architecture and to advance landscape design in St. Louis in light of major projects such as Citygarden and the redevelopment of the St. Louis Arch grounds.

Photos from the exhibition after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Parklet Lost, CityGarden Love, Chatham Scratched and Directing Traffic

Daily Clicks
Monday, May 23, 2011
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Parklet in Oakland goes missing. (Courtesy Actual Cafe)

Parklet in Oakland goes missing. (Courtesy Actual Cafe)

Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept–transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk–and we hear they’re quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident.

Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis’ much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI’s 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC’s Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize.

Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown’s Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn’t want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead.

Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.

Quick Clicks> Legos, Towers, Loop, Rich Zip

Daily Clicks
Monday, February 28, 2011
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Towering Ambition at the National Building Museum (Courtesy Andrew Bossi/flickr)

Towering Ambition at the National Building Museum (Courtesy Andrew Bossi/flickr)

Towering Ambition. An amazing exhibition that recreates some of the world’s most iconic buildings in miniature is ongoing at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C through September 5th. Design Quarterly has more info on the Lego structures by Adam Reed Tucker (via Notcot) and the NBM has an interview. (There’s also a lecture on architectural toys planned this Thursday.)

Read More

St. Louis Throws Car-Oriented Planning to the Curb

Midwest
Monday, January 17, 2011
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The City of St. Louis in 1912

The City of St. Louis in 1912

Like many cities around the country, St. Louis is in search of a more sustainable, more dense city that promotes walkability and public transit. With the help of $150,000 in stimulus funds, St. Louis will soon be evaluating its zoning codes to affect such land-use changes in unincorporated areas around the county. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described plans to densify the county focusing on redeveloping currently built-up areas.

Read More

Pruitt-Igoe Documentary Debuts In February

Midwest
Thursday, January 6, 2011
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A still of the Pruitt-Igoe demolition from the new documentary (Courtesy Pruitt-Igoe Myth)

A still of the Pruitt-Igoe demolition from the new documentary (Courtesy Pruitt-Igoe Myth)

A new documentary called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth by Chad Friedrichs seeks to capture the life of St. Louis’ infamous housing project through the lens of the people who lived there. The film looks beyond the iconic images of its implosion and offers an analysis of urban renewal’s impact locally and across the nation. From the movie’s web site:

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.

At the film’s historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization and emptied American cities of their residents, businesses, and industries.

The 83-minute film will be premiering February 11-13 at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi. No word yet when it will make it to St. Louis and beyond, but we’re anxiously awaiting! [Via Preservation Research Office ]

Watch the movie trailer after the jump.

Bad Parks Can Mean Bad Health

Midwest
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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Restroom in O'fallon Park. (Photo courtesy of librarian7**)

A new study says that some St. Louis residents are getting slighted when it comes to the usablity of neighborhood parks, and that may be adversely impacting their health, according to researchers from Saint Louis and Washington Universities. A story in the St. Louis Beacon reports that uneven sidewalks and outdated or broken equipment make neighborhood residents less likely to use parks. Researcher Cheryl Kelly of the School of Public Health at Saint Louis University pointed out that the lack of usability means that “people are getting less physical activity in general, which is a factor associated with health disparities, such as obesity and some chronic diseases and conditions.” Read More

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Artist Proposes Fabric House Coat For St. Louis

Midwest
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
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Rendering showing proposed House Coat installation in St. Louis (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Rendering showing proposed House Coat installation in St. Louis (Courtesy Leeza Meksin)

Brooklyn-based artist Leeza Meksin plans to give an historic brick structure in St. Louis a new skin – or rather a new set of clothes.  House Coat proposes wrapping over 800 yards of spandex around the two-story building, complete with stylized “corset-like fixtures in the back, weights, [and] leather.”

Read more about the project after the jump.

Highway to Isolation

Midwest
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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David Sunberg/Esto

Multidisciplinary teams are working to rethink the grounds surrounding the Eero Saarinen-designed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the St. Louis Arch, to improve its connectivity with the city and the riverfront. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on the teams to substantially rework I-70, which creates a barrier along the park’s western edge. Read More

Put Up A Parking Lot

Midwest
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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(photo: Brian Newman)

(photo: Brian Newman)

Despite interest from developers and pleas from activists in St. Louis, yesterday the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that the demolition of the mid-century modern San Luis Apartments can proceed. An appeal brought to the court by The Friends of the San Luis last week attempted to prevent the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owns the building, from the further demolition of the structure. The Archdiocese wants to build a surface parking lot on the site, creating a large gap in the urban fabric of Lindell Boulevard. Read More

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