Appreciating Architecture and Renewal
by Debbie Monterrey
While it appears the Cupples 7 building won’t survive it’s current death sentence, there is still much to celebrate in St. Louis’ preservation community.
The Landmarks Association of St. Louis will honor some of this year’s best projects at their Most Enhanced Awards taking place Wednesday, May 15 at Central Library (another amazing renewal!). It’ll be the midpoint of their Preservation Week schedule.
The Flying Saucer building, the AAA building, Central Library and those that will be honored at the Most Enhanced Awards are vital to our identity as a City and a region.
Travel around this great nation of ours, and often, you just won’t be able to tell where you are. Every strip mall with their chain stores looks like same. From the interstate with its sound-barriers, you could be in Kansas or Colorado or Ohio.
New cities that have cropped up feature mostly disposable designs meant to last a decade or two before they are torn down, abandoned or fall down. It’s difficult anymore to tell one subdivision from the next, but Lafayette Square or the mid-century homes of Belleville or the turn-of-the-century mansions of the Central West End or Compton Heights are better than pictures in a history book.
Speaking of Central Library, the century-old, Cass Gilbert-designed treasure will be the topic of discussion Wednesday, May 8 at “Cass Gilbert’s Vision and Central Library Today.” Gilbert authority Sharon Irish joins St. Louis Public Library executive director Waller McGuire and the principal architect of the redesign, George Nikolajevich for a discussion of the library’s beginnings to the present day.
The preservation community has had several major victories in the past year or two. One, the fight to save the Del Taco Flying Saucer building resulted in what is undoubtedly one of the most unusual Starbucks around, along with a Chipotle.
Judging from the traffic in the lot, the drive-thru and the outdoor patio, it is well-used.
Secondly, the uproar over leveling the round Triple-A building on Lindell was heard by developers of a new CVS drug store. They’re now planning to save the mid-century Modernist building and develop next door.
KMOX radio is now housed on the third floor of the Park Pacific building, formerly the Missouri Pacific Railroad building which opened in 1926. I applaud the Lawrence Group for their vision in restoring and repurposing.
When I talk to my relatives in Europe, they think it’s kind of “cute” that I find a century-old home or a 150-year old building so incredible. After all, as my cousin points out, there’s a church near her home in the Netherlands that dates back to the year 550. Hopefully, if we in St. Louis can take good care of our structures, they’ll last a few hundred more years!
See you at the Most Enhanced Awards!