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  • Underpass Picnic

    Posted on June 7th, 2009 Toby Weiss 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.

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  • St. Louis in National Geographic, November 1965

    Posted on April 10th, 2009 Toby Weiss 9 comments

    St. Louis was extensively covered in the November 1965 issue of National Geographic. The Arch was almost complete, the new Busch Stadium was under construction, and wiping out old ugliness for new (federally funded) progress had many optimistic for the resurgence of the city that was just around the corner.

    Much thanks to Jonathan Swegle and Jeff Vines for putting this issue in my hands.

    Click on each individual spread and it will pop into a new window so you can read it. Within the following pages, many projects are mentioned. Please help me keep track of the following:
    Which buildings are now gone?
    Which remain?
    Which projects panned out as expected?
    Which ones didn’t?
    Is there anything to be learned from this snapshot of the past?

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    RELATED
    Busch Stadium Farewell
    Eero Saarinen, Shaping the Future
    We Brick This City
    Pius XII Library, St. Louis University

    Remembering Famous-Barr
    Missouri Botanical Garden

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  • Eero Saarinen: Shaping The Future

    Posted on February 18th, 2009 Toby Weiss 3 comments

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    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!!!

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    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?

    Here’s a quick blast of photos from the exhibit.

    Here’s a short video about the exhibit.

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  • What Is This?

    Posted on January 8th, 2009 Toby Weiss 4 comments

    Can you identify this St. Louis site?

    All of those with the correct answer will win a guided tour through the Mayor Slay Hall of Mirrors.

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