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 intriguing — a 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.
Posts tagged with "St. Louis":
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.” Pinnacle Entertainment made a $6 million contribution to the National Blues Museum in December, somewhat undercutting a similar idea previously discussed for Chicago. The cash was a major boost for the project, which until then had less than $1 million in “soft commitments.” The total cost is $13.5 million to $14 million. Tax credits will help cover some of the gap, but the project director told STL Today they still need $2 million. Developers in St. Louis hope the 23,000-square-foot museum will help anchor the downtown Mercantile Exchange District, near hotels and casinos also owned by Pinnacle.
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.
Midwest train travelers will enjoy a quicker passage, as Amtrak approves a new top speed of 110 mph for a section of its Chicago-St. Louis route. Though trains will only accelerate to the new top speed over a 15-mile segment, officials said another $1.5 billion investment over three years of upgrades will bring the rest of the track up to speed. The current top speed is 79 mph over most of the route. Instead of 5 and a half hours, future trips could be under 4 hours. Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak tested a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates earlier this year. Amtrak's Midwest presence has seen a significant ridership boost, following trends around the country. Transit in general may be enjoying a small renaissance, with the CTA counting 16 months of rail and bus line increases. Despite setting ridership records, Amtrak is losing money and faces an uncertain future.
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.
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. Fares would cover almost half of the system’s operating costs, with the rest coming from advertising, institutional subsidies, and the District. A ground-breaking ceremony is expected this fall, but no construction date has been set. St. Louis’ first Loop Trolleys may run as soon as 2014. Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles have all mulled over streetcar, light rail or trolley plans in recent years.
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.
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. Craig Dykers, principal at Snøhetta, created the 2012 competition program calling for a new net-zero facility that would house and stimulate interdisciplinary cooperation between the Sam Fox School’s art, architecture, and design graduate programs while integrating five existing buildings. Dykers served as jury chair for the competition, alongside Susannah Drake, principle at dlandstudio, and Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen, principals at UrbanLab. Mrdeza’s winning design works to strengthen interdisciplinary connections within the school and university at large while highlighting the divisions between public and private functions. Classrooms, galleries, and other public and semi-public spaces are located on the lower level of a large, three-story structure. A public pathway cuts through the arrangement, utilizing the site's gentle slope to draw in visitors while the building's transparency allows onlookers to passively engage in the activities happening inside the design schools. This first-floor, dubbed the “mound,” would be topped with an active green roof, and upper levels would be contained within five large “lantern blocks.” These structures, clad in luminescent PVC panels and set at slight angels from one another, would each correspond to a different discipline and contain offices and studio space for their respective programs. “The project negotiates the need for internal reflection while catalyzing meetings between disciplines and individuals,” wrote Mrdeza in his proposal. “Divisions between public and private are retained without hindering interdisciplinary and exta-institutional collaboration.” Mrdeza will use his award to study connections between landscape, architecture, and sustainability while traveling to Japan and other sites in Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and South America.
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.
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?" Winning entries will receive small cash awards, and winners and honorable mentions will be exhibited publicly near the site. The organizers are also putting together a symposium at Portland State University, planned for Spring 2012.
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. Developer Rick Yackey has asked to tear down the National Register-nominated building to construct what he is calling a more pedestrian-friendly retail strip along the boulevard. His plans have already won approval from the St. Louis Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority, but a number of hurdles remain. St. Louis Mayor Slay has promised extra review before a number of commissions including the Preservation Review Board. Tomorrow, the St. Louis Board of Alderman will take up the issue. Writing on his blog, the mayor said:
Whatever they believe “aldermanic courtesy” requires, I hope that aldermen take notice of the building’s popularity, particularly among younger residents for whom buildings of the 1950s and 1960s really are old buildings. If aldermen, after mature consideration, approve a plan that allows the demolition of the Del Taco building and the developer subsequently applies for a demolition permit, I will ask Cultural Resources Office director Betsy Bradley to review the permit and make a professional recommendation to the Preservation Board about further action.Meanwhile, the prospect of preserving the unlikely icon is pushing the issue of mid-century-modern preservation to the fore.
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.