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  • Save Our Saucer Rally & a Talk with Its Architect

    Posted on July 5th, 2011 Toby Weiss 3 comments
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    Want to show some love for The Saucer? Then show up Wednesday, July 6th at 6 PM at South Grand and Forest Park Parkway.

    Bring signs, posters and other items to show how much you love the Spaceship. Hear some knowledgeable folks share their love of the building and voice ideas for other uses for it.  There will even be limited edition Saucer T-shirts available!

    Let’s all come together to show the Board of Aldermen (who have their final vote on its fate Friday, July 8th) how beloved this building is and why it would be a tragedy to tear it down for unspecified plans.

    “There may be plenty of interest in reusing that awesome saucer if it is marketed properly! The building has the ability to be remodeled, adapted, or expanded to meet the needs of a new tenant or tenants,” says local architect Paul Hohmann. “We’ve been in touch with a number of local businesses, who may be interested in saving that iconic building, and we love it so much, we’re working with anyone interested to connect them with the opportunity to preserve it!”

    As it stands on public record, the developer sounds adamant that he only wants a new building in its place, and is stubbornly opposed to re-using, remodeling or adding on to the existing building. This seems like a narrowly-focused and short-sighted view point from a developer who has shown creative thinking on so many other St. Louis City projects.  Maybe if we all did the work of delivering a new tenant to him, he’d change his mind?

    I just got off the phone with recently retired architect Richard Henmi, who was the Associate and Chief Designer for Council Plaza – and the Saucer, specifically – while he was a member of the architectural firm Schwarz & Van Hoefen. He has been closely following all the media coverage about the Saucer (I met him when he commented on my previous post about The Saucer) , saying “I’ve never seen so much coverage for such a tiny building!”

    He drove by the building this past Sunday and said, “The 6-inch solid concrete roof has held up very well, though it should be checked thoroughly before doing any work on it.”

    What would Henmi like to seen done with the building he designed? He is aware that the developer would like more square footage for more paying tenants, and says that one could add onto the north and east sides of the building while maintaining the integrity of the roof. “It would need to be done carefully, but it could be done.” Henmi also envisions how the roof overhang would make for a pleasant outdoor dining patio, especially by adding low walls and landscaping around it.

    He has seen the proposed adaptation on the blog What Should Be,  and while he does not agree with the concept, he loves that people’s imaginations have been fired up about the building, and would love to see it become a “Wash U. sketch problem” for the next semester of architectural students at Washington University (where he graduated from in 1947).

    Henmi cannot make tomorrow night’s love-in because he is attending a family reunion in California, but once he returns, he said he will do all he can to save the building, as he’s already experienced the sadness of seeing 2 other of his buildings demolished in the past. And he will work with us to go through his drawings he donated to the Missouri Historical Society in 1989, so soon we should have copies of original drawings of The Saucer as designed for its original use as a Phillips 66 in 1967.

    See you tomorrow night at the rally to Save Our Saucer. Here’s the Facebook invite for more info. And please remember – this is a positive event about our love for this unique and endearing building, so let’s share only our love and ideas for its future.

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    3 Responses to “Save Our Saucer Rally & a Talk with Its Architect”

    1. richard stupidhead

      I’m not the sort of person that feels anything has to be maintained exactly as built, and I also appreciate the idea that an addition to an existing structure should be its own beast, but in this case, the roof is the icon and these ideas obscure that, IMHO if an enclosure were to be built a simple and smart curtainwall canted in at the base (yeah I know would cut down a few square feet) would be the most sensible and sensitive.

      I like the ideas posted, but they need more contrast to whatever existing structure they modify. apply them to something blocky and of no inherent interest and I’d sing their praises.

    2. richard stupidhead

      from the RFT: “So, as Alderman Scott Ogilvie pointed out, Yackey got the money because he argued that the buildings possessed historic value — even as now he’s arguing that one of those buildings isn’t valuable enough to preserve, so he should get even more money to redevelop it.

      “If we demolished every building in the city that has had a bad operator, here in 2011, we would have zero buildings,” said Ogilvie, to a wave of applause from the audience.”

      I think I like this Ogilvie guy.

    3. I just saw on the news that your hard work paid off! Cudos on fighting the good fight. The Saucer looks like it has been saved and they are saying it is in part because of your efforts. Yippee!

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