New SLU Renderings Sow Worry for Suburbanizing Downtown St. Louis

Midwest
Thursday, November 8, 2012
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SLU Law Chestnut Street. (Courtesy NextSTL)

SLU Law Chestnut Street. (Courtesy NextSTL)

Saint Louis University announced in January that its law school would move downtown, winning praise from many who saw the move as a reinvestment in the city’s urban core.

NextSTL sounded an alarm, however, over new renderings of the Joe and Loretta Scott Law Center that show a closed circular driveway along Chestnut Street—a downtown thoroughfare whose theoretical closure would amount to “suburbanizing the central business district,” in the words of NextSTL writer Alex Ihnen. The Board of Public Service would have to okay such a closure, which according to the Street Department has not yet been submitted for approval.

Construction Fully Funded for St. Louis’ Loop Trolley Project

Midwest
Monday, September 10, 2012
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One of the vintage trolley cars that will eventually traverse St. Louis' Delmar Loop. (Claudia Daggett/Flickr)

One of the vintage trolley cars that will eventually traverse St. Louis’ Delmar Loop. (Claudia Daggett/Flickr)

Plans for a fixed-track trolley system in St. Louis got a $22 million infusion last week, when the Federal Transit Administration followed through with plans to fund construction of the city’s long-awaited Loop Trolley system.

The Loop Trolley Transportation Development District would administer a 2.2-mile track from the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park to the University City Library—part of a regional plan for more sustainable transit. Three hybrid electric trolleys will make nine stops along the way, offering connection with the existing light rail MetroLink system.

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Smaller Airports Struggle with Vacant Space

Midwest
Monday, July 16, 2012
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Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)

Cleveland's airport had 1,565,187 fewer enplanements in 2009 than in 2000. (Image courtesy Cody Austin via Flickr.)

The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals.

A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.

Steedman Fellowship Winner Heralded for Interdisciplinary Design

Midwest
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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Jason Mrdeza's winning proposal features a first floor "mound" fitted with a green roof and topped with five glowing "lantern blocks" containing studios and offices. (Courtesy Washington University)

Jason Mrdeza's winning proposal features a first floor "mound" fitted with a green roof and topped with five glowing "lantern blocks" containing studios and offices. (Courtesy Washington University)

Canadian/Norwegian architect Jason Mrdeza has won Washington University in Saint Louis’ 2012 Steedman Fellowship in Architecture International Design Competition. Sponsored by the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the biennial competition is open to young architects from around the world within the first eight yeas of practice. The winner receives a $50,000 prize, one of the largest competition prizes in the U.S., to support study and research abroad. Mrdeza’s winning project, “Mediating Adjacencies: Inspiring Collaboration within Context,” was chosen out of 120 entrees.

Continue reading after the jump.

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.

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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.

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