Posts tagged with "St. Louis":

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

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.
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Quick Clicks> Legos, Towers, Loop, Rich Zip

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.) High Hopes. The Atlantic features an Ed Glaeser article on the benefits of building up, detailing the benefits of the skyscraper and acknowledging the "misplaced fear" that planners and preservationists harbor toward the tower. Loop the Loop. In St. Louis, a proposed streetcar line connecting Forest Park with the Delmar Loop is right on track. With an Environmental Impact Study expected any day now, the St. Louis Business Journal says $3 million of a $25 million federal grant will push the project forward. Rich Zip. New York's bronze-clad Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe has long been a symbol of wealth, but now the Wall Street Journal reports that the 38-story tower, with its own zip code (10152 if you were wondering), is also home to the wealthiest per capita income in the U.S. at $13.9 mil. The General Motors building came in second with an average income of $9.9M.
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St. Louis Throws Car-Oriented Planning to the Curb

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. St. Louis has been making smart growth gains as its downtown and surrounding neighborhoods have been built up over the years and with the construction of light rail lines connecting the city and suburbs. Plans for a revamped zoning strategy would be targeted at unincorporated areas of the county outside the city limits where an estimated one-third of the county's population live. Most of this space has been built up in an unwalkable pattern that diminishes the value of any density that already exists. Interviews with four finalist planning firms have already taken place and a winner is expected to be named soon. Final zoning changes could be approved within a year and a half. Among the strategies for promoting a denser city, planners hope to boost walkability around transit lines, promote mixed-uses in taller buildings, increase sustainable rainwater management practices, and expand the urban realm with sidewalks that promote outdoor dining, all while appealing to developers to add emphasis to public spaces.
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Pruitt-Igoe Documentary Debuts In February

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 ]
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Bad Parks Can Mean Bad Health

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." One interesting finding was that walking as an inexpensive form of exercise turned out to be much harder to do in predominantly black neighborhoods and that African Americans who wanted to walk as a form of exercise were more likely to encounter "uneven sidewalks, obstructions and physical disorder." Where people live and play can impact their health in less obvious ways, and some researchers began taking a closer look at the connection between disease and environment, especially as Americans began developing diabetes at younger ages, and certain racial and ethnic groups were affected more than others.  In looking beyond the clinical setting and factoring in where people lived and how that location influenced their health, researchers found that certain populations "were in an environment that fought against them doing that," Debra Haire-Joshu of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University told the Beacon.
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Artist Proposes Fabric House Coat For St. Louis

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." Several unique challenges arise when trying to clothe something as large as a building.  Meksin says ready-made patterns for such a House Coat tend to be scarce, but instead is spending two months preparing the bespoke garment in her Brooklyn studio.  She chose an oversized print - large gold chains on semi-transparent white field - to relate back to the building's scale.
The logic behind this pattern is multifold: (1) Cosign Projects of WUSTL's Art Program is located in a depressed area of St. Louis, with multiple boarded-up houses surrounding it; (2) The gold on white motif makes frequent appearances in hip hop and pop culture as a sign of wealth and fabulousness; (3) The house, wrapped in gold chains, will flaunt itself to locals, while simultaneously finding itself bound and gagged by its own design.
Meksin is inspired by the fluid elegance of fabric installations by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude but diverges as her preferred medium of stretch fabrics evokes the more modern dress of "drag queens and super heroes."
HOUSE COAT, as the pun implies, refers both to the literal fact of the house getting a new covering (a face lift of sorts) as well as to the garment often worn by people indoors (i.e. the outfit that is specifically designed for a private sphere and not permitted an exterior use).
The installation will take place in Spring 2011 during the Southern Graphics Council International Conference with support from Washington University in St. Louis. While much of the $13,000 budget has been raised, Meksin has established a Kickstarter campaign to finish raising funds. Via Lost at E Minor.
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Highway to Isolation

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. When the interstate highway system was being designed, many routes were planned along waterfronts that were then falling out of use for industry and shipping. As waterfronts have come back in fashion as urban amenities, many communities are struggling to work around or remove these highways. The Post-Dispatch advocates removing the 1.5 mile stretch all together. Definitely something for the teams to ponder.
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Put Up A Parking Lot

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. The Friends group is organizing a rally to be held at the site tonight to show its continued intent to preserve this “high-merit” building and to protest the court’s decision. Further appeals to halt demolition may also be brought by the group.
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An Urban Place to Park the Kids

Architect and writer Brian Newman recently took a walk through St. Louis' newest urban park and sent this dispatch. Before setting foot in St. Louis’ downtown City Garden, which officially opened to the public last week, before you come across the bright red Keith Herring totem or Tom Otterness’ bulbous bronze Gepetto, even before you see its verdant paths and shaded lawns, you see the packs of happily damp children, wrapped in beach towels. There are children everywhere in City Garden, swimming in fountains and splashing under limestone framed waterfalls, playing in front of a huge interactive LED video wall and climbing on any one of the almost two dozen sculptures installed throughout the park. The City Garden brings to downtown not only an entirely new, and enthusiastic, demographic, but a new formal and aesthetic framework. This isn’t to suggest that before the ribbon was cut and the crowds began exploring the grounds that downtown St. Louis didn’t have green space and sculpture. But the sum of these existing parts seldom congealed into much. City Garden changes that. Its 2.9 acres offer meandering gravel paths, hills, outlooks, multi-tiered water features, and enough trees to shade a visitor’s stroll virtually from edge to edge. Designed by Charlottesville, VA landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, and financed locally by the Gateway Foundation, the $25 million park is divided into three distinct latitudinal bands, each taking cues from regional geographic and geological precedents. The Northern River Bluffs band features a chain of terraces topped by an airy grove of willow oak, honey locust, and serviceberry trees, a shallow wading pool and an adjacent glass pavilion which houses the Terrace View restaurant. An arching limestone wall defines the Middle Flood Plain band, and runs nearly the two-block length of the park. A narrow water basin framed by black granite tile is punctuated by a cascading waterfall at the eastern its end waterfall. Across the park’s central axis, a plaza features 102 in-ground water jets, each of which plays a role in multicolor- and time-coordinated choreography, and is the real epicenter of children’s play. The Southern River Terrace band separates the City Garden from Market Street and offers an unbroken stretch of Ginkgo trees and an 1,100 foot long granite seat wall that gracefully wends its way across the length of the park. Where the wall bends, small gardens of wildflowers and native grasses appear, providing some relatively secluded seating for visitors who may not be so inclined to explore the park’s many water features. Sculpture by renowned artists, including Mark di Suvero, Tony Smith, Aristide Maillol and Jim Dine, is liberally installed throughout each of the bands and operate like a series of magnetic poles, pulling the visitor deeper into the park. Downtown St. Louis has no version of New York’s Broadway to bisect its city blocks at oblique and irregular intervals, producing much needed relief from a relentless street grid. With the opening of City Garden, downtown has found a respite from the strictly orthogonal, an opportunity to take a step away from the rigorous logic of the existing city layout. Its shapes and gestures seem to relate less to the monolithic steel structures directly across the street than to the robust organic forms of Sullivan’s nearby Wainwright Building and the lavishly ornamented City Hall from the late 19th century. While its forms may be suggestive of a particular era of the past, the attention paid to sustainable planting strategies and responsible material use speaks clearly to our contemporary concerns. City Garden undoubtedly has the capacity to spur economic growth in its immediate vicinity and, perhaps more importantly, it also has the potential to change perceptions about its urban home.