Posted on July 22nd, 2009 2 comments
Friends of the San Luis Seek Demolition Halt,
Right to Appeal Preservation Board Action
On July 17, the Friends of the San Luis, Inc. filed a petition in Circuit Court to obtain a temporary injunction that would prohibit the Archdiocese of St. Louis from proceeding with any demolition work at the San Luis Apartments until our organization has exhausted its legal appeal of the approval of the demolition permit. While we do not have a final judgment, Judge Robert Dierker, Jr. has denied our motion for a temporary restraining order. The Building Division issued a demolition permit on Monday, July 20, and preliminary demolition work is now underway.
Our mission is to preserve the San Luis Apartments, and at this eleventh hour we press onward with that basic mission but also a larger one. After the Preservation Board granted preliminary approval to the demolition by a narrow vote, we intended to appeal that decision through our right under the city’s preservation ordinance. We think that the Preservation Board’s action was made through incorrect application of the law. Furthermore, we think that that the Cultural Resources Office report on the issue misled citizens and Preservation Board members through imprecise legal reasoning that made it unclear what laws were in play. Since the Preservation Board acts only to enforce city ordinances, without clarity of which laws are being enforced there is no due process.
Under the preservation ordinance, however, we have only the right to appeal an approved demolition permit. We filed the injunction petition to ensure that we were still fighting for an actual building rather than a rubble pile. Unfortunately, Judge Dierker is not stopping demolition as well as challenging our legal standing to bring forth an appeal of the Preservation Board decision. Thus begins our larger cause.
Our preservation ordinance allows an aggrieved party to bring forth an appeal. The preservation ordinance was passed by the Board of Aldermen for the benefit of the entire city, and its stakeholders are all citizens who share the duty of protecting the city’s heritage. The law enjoins us to become stewards of our architectural heritage, and the Friends of the San Luis gladly step forward to answer that call.
We contend that citizen right to appeal the decision of the Preservation Board is a fundamental part of due process and essential to the enforcement of the preservation review ordinance. Without the right to appeal, citizen participation has severely limited impact. Citizens must have the right to act when they feel that the preservation review ordinance has been violated by its own custodians. The right to appeal is a basic legal principle, and it must be part of St. Louis’ preservation law.
While we hold out weary hope of preserving the San Luis, we must assert the right of the citizen to bring forth an appeal under preservation law. We believe that future efforts will benefit from legal protection of that right, and that its fundamental sanctity is worth pursuing no matter what happens to the San Luis.
Posted on June 7th, 2009 No comments
On a beautiful spring day, the St. Louis Riverfront was crowded with folks renting bicycles, taking helicopter rides, watching a high school bandplay under a tent overlooking the river, and climbing up and down the Arch steps.
In Downtown St. Louis, a neighborhood loft tour was underway, the restaurants and hotels were hopping and tourists were walking around with cameras.
These two areas are severely divided by the Interstate 70 overpass, which creates a dark, dirty, noisy and imposing barrier people have to navigate through to get from, say, the Convention Center to Laclede’s Landing.
In this concrete, steel and pigeon poop void is where Kara and Steve Holland hosted a Picnic Under the Highway. That’s the video above. And you can see photos of the event here.
Turns out it’s people who make a place vibrant and alive. Huh. Would be nice if this simple concept could become a part of city development and planning. Maybe start with how people would use a space and work out from there. There’s been some official recommendations passed onto the powers-that-be about this very thing. Let’s hope all the pieces come together to create a win/win for everyone.
Posted on May 11th, 2009 8 comments
Sunday, May 17, 2009: Film and Walking Tour
This was the Future: Mid-Century Modern Architecture on Lindell Blvd.
Begin inside the Chase Park Plaza Cinema, 212 N. Kingshighway
Have a mid-century modern morning in May! A screening of the new short documentary San Luis: This Was the Future tells the story of the threatened San Luis Apartments. After the 10 minute film, Toby Weiss of beltstl.com and Michael Allen (ecology of absence) will lead a walking tour of the many mid-century treasurers along Lindell Boulevard, where modern design flourished between World War II and the 1970s. The walk will run from the Chase Park Plaza Hotel to Vandeventer and back, so be prepared for serious walking.
See a free movie, take a free tour, get a little exercise, get a lot of knowledge… there are worse ways to spend a Sunday morning! Please do join us Sunday if you can. Michael is the brains of the outfit, I’ll be the “little song, little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.” It promises to be a good time.
Posted on February 18th, 2009 3 comments
The Kemper Art Museum is my new favorite place for wallowing in mid-century splendor. Their new exhibit on Eero Saarinen is even better than Birth of the Cool, and it is an embarrassment of riches to be able to say that.
As always, taking pictures (or leaning) in the Kemper is strictly forbidden and studiously enforced, so I can only share with you these crappy cell phone shots. Shown above are architectural models of the TWA Terminal and Dulles International airports! Below, a color rendering Eero did of one of the TWA lounges!! And this is what is in just one corner of one room!!!
The exhibit is very thorough without being ponderous, and displayed so that one can skim lightly and take away useful tidbits (Eero could write with both hands at the same time and write backwards) or really dig in and start to feel what it was like to work with him as he created and refined an idea.
Everything the man touched conjured a new design reality, and this energy reverberated well past him to affect and elevate those who brought his creations to life. Look at the photos of the TWA Terminal or the Ingalls Hockey Rink during construction and be blown away by the intricate wood forms the men built to mold the concrete. Marvel at new fabrication tricks invented to create structural panels for the IBM Research Center building.
There are original sketches of his iconic tulip chairs within one room dedicated solely to his furniture designs. There’s an 18-minute documentary about Eero’s life and work created just for the exhibit. It is easy to get lost for hours in this exhibit, but luckily it is in residence until April 27, so there’s plenty of opportunities to do it piecemeal, or just keep gorging on this architectural buffet. Kemper is open most all times you need them to be open, so there’s no excuse to miss it.
Need more convincing?