Michael Calhoun

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The man who designed Midtown’s landmark flying saucer building says he approves of plans to save it.

Dick Henmi, now 87-years-old, says, at the time, he wanted a “strong shape” for the corner of Grand Avenue and Forest Park Parkway.

“Hyperbolic paraboloid is the form that was used. It was a structural technique that became somewhat popular on the west coast.”

So he took the idea to his structural engineer, who made it work.

From there, it became a Phillips 66 gas station, then a Del-Taco and almost became a pile of rubble before recent protests to save it.

Wednesday night, owner Rick Yackey revealed plans to gut-and-expand the saucer and also said a national coffee chain is in talks to become a tenant.

Henmi gives his blessing to the redesign, which includes floor-to-ceiling windows and a lot of brick.

“DelTaco had closed up a lot of the windows and things, so the form that’s existing isn’t as true to the original as the proposed alternation is,” he said.

Henmi, who designed several buildings around town and helped with the rehabs of even more, says he was humbled by a grassroots campaign to save the saucer.

Yackey, meantime, hopes to have tenants in the building by March.

Copyright KMOX Radio


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