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.
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 ]
Chicago is famously the city where cab drivers namedrop architects. This year there will be a new way for the general public to become even more well-versed in the city’s historic and contemporary architecture, openhousechicago. Modeled on successful programs in London, New York, and Toronto, openhousechicago will offer free access to more than 100 sites around the city, some of which are normally not open to the public, including the Center for Green Technology and the Burnham-designed Santa Fe Building. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, openhousechicago will run from October 14-16. Sites are still being nominated and volunteers are needed, so visit www.openhousechicago.org for more information or to get involved.
Earlier this year AN looked at Midway Crossings, designed by James Carpenter with lighting designers Schuler Shook and landscape architects BauerLatoza Studio, a project that uses light and urban design to create a visual connection across Frederick Law Olmsted’s Midway Plaisance. The project, formerly known as the Light Bridges, is now nearing completion, and the result seems to accomplish the goal of better joining the main campus of the University of Chicago with its expanding facilities across the park. Tall light poles and wider sidewalks with planted, raised easements create an inviting place for pedestrians, and the University hopes the two crossings, at 59th and 60th Streets, will create focused centers of foot traffic, improving safety. Purists may feel that the University has co-opted public park space, but the design team’s use of light as the main element shows a light hand in the landscape. Read More
Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city’s first Platinum building.
Many have lamented the disappearance of so many architecture book stores in recent years, chief among them the much-missed Prarie Avenue Books in Chicago. The Graham Foundation is doing their part to begin to fill that void by selling a selection of books at their stately home, the Madlener house.
Tonight, the Foundation is hosting a holiday party and book store launch, from 5-8pm. The delightful exhibition, Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, is also on view. Stop by and stock up. The Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place, Chicago.
Following a heavy snow storm this weekend, the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome collapsed. This video shows the structure creaking under the weight, the roof fabric tearing, and snow pouring in on the field. It looks like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. Blair Kamin was quick to point out that though the stadium was designed by the Chicago office of SOM, the roof was the work of New York-based Geiger Berger Associates. Buffalo, New York-based Birdair Structures maintains and supplies the roof fabric. No one was hurt in the collapse. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, this is the fourth time roof has ripped and deflated. Officials are still determining how low it will take to repair the structure.
It’s hard to imagine turning down $1.2 billion. That is, unless you’re the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio. The New York Times reported today that those two states officially withdrew claim to their shares of federal stimulus money awarded for construction of new rail corridors, citing concerns over subsidies needed to run the trains. Instead the money will be redirected to 13 other states. Ironically, both Wisconsin and Ohio had lobbied aggressively for big hunks of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail development in Obama’s stimulus package. Things changed when Republicans won both governorships, partly on the platform of denying the stimulus awards. Read More
Many museums have of period rooms in their holdings, but the Art Institute of Chicago also has an impressive collection of 68 miniature period spaces. Rather than treat these dollhouse-sized objects as sacred or static, the museum has decorated six of them for the holidays with historically and culturally appropriate trimmings. The English Victorian drawing room is the only one that includes a Christmas tree. Take a look at some of the rooms and details from Tudor to Modern spaces.
Seriously cute stuff inside.
While bringing nature back into the city is generally heralded as a sign of improvement, this is hardly the best path to that end. Next American City‘s Willy Staley recently took a walk through Detroit‘s East Side with vacant property guru Sam Butler to surmise the problems of abandonment facing the city. Detroit, seeking to demolish some 3,000 structures, has long been at the center of a movement to “shrink” cities suffering from population loss and blight.
There’s been no shortage of worthy architectural documentaries in recent years, but you’ll want to make room on your DVD rack for the latest look at a major American figure: Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture. Recently given its New York premiere courtesy of the good people at Docomomo New York/Tri-State, this touching and tragic film offers a portrait of the man who perhaps more than anyone aspired to create an American style of architecture, yet was left behind by a nation on the cusp of a century that Sullivan himself did much to define. Read More