Colloquium to Revisit the Building of Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis

Midwest
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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The Pulitzer Foundation by Tadao Ando. (Courtesy Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts)

The Pulitzer Foundation by Tadao Ando. (Courtesy Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts)

Tadao Ando’s architecture strives for perfection, with glass-smooth concrete walls nearly as reflective as mirrors, ideal proportion and geometry creating a sacred sense of space, and design details that reveal no part of a building is too small for consideration. In fact, as one story goes, Ando requested that a foot-thick concrete wall at his Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis be rebuilt multiple times since it didn’t meet his strict standards.

The Pulitzer, one of only a handful of buildings the Japanese architect has completed in the United States and the first in the US intended for public use, opened in 2001, demurely set behind a concrete wall in the city’s Grand Center neighborhood. This Friday and Saturday (February 8 and 9), the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Washington University in St. Louis are hosting the free Building Pulitzer colloquium looking back at the four-year construction period of Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation.

Continue reading after the jump.

St. Louis’ Last Gasometer is No More

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

A collection of strange industrial relics in St. Louis has gone the way of many before it, as the city’s last gasometer has fallen.

Gasometers are storage devices for natural and coal gas, built during the 20th century but abandoned after 2000 when underground storage became the preferred method. The Laclede Gas Company Pumping Station at 3615 Chevrolet, built around 1920, was the area’s last. Michael R. Allen wrote an epitaph for the bygone piece of infrastructure, providing a remembrance that asks, are industrial relics worth preserving?

Basically silos for gas, the structures leave behind industrial skeletons that are sometimes stunning, always intriguinga Flickr group devoted to their documentation has more than 1,000 entries. They are more common in Europe than in the U.S., but Laclede’s St. Louis structures were the most notable on this side of the Atlantic. In Vienna they are celebrated, with four architectural teams currently converting four gasometers for new uses.

National Blues Museum Targets 2014 Opening in St. Louis

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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The National Blues Museum (Courtesdy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

The National Blues Museum. (Courtesy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Kansas City has the American Jazz Museum, Nashville has Music City, and now St. Louis looks likely to become home to the National Blues Museum in 2014. Cue up “St. Louis Blues.”

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Sreshta Rit Premnath’s “Folding Rulers” Explore Visual Representation

Midwest
Thursday, December 27, 2012
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(Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis)

(Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis)

Sreshta Rit Premnath: Folding Rulers
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd
Through December 30, 2012

Sreshta Rit Premnath’s exhibit, Folding Rulers, at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis questions processes of representation, attempting to identify why certain objects, images, events, and discourses are chosen to represent larger ideas, cultural periods, or histories. Using various mediums, Premnath investigates why and how icons, places, and people— specifically the concept of power—are so symbolic. By analyzing and reducing these symbols and their meanings, his new work offers new readings of people, places, and times.

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.

Read More

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.

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