Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Architectural Irony

St. Louis has one of the nation's best collections of historic architecture. It's not surprising considering that back in the year 1900, St. Louis was America's fourth largest city. Many believe that our architectural heritage is one of the city's greatest assets.

We also have a culture that is very resistant to change. So today our conservative midwestern culture is challenged to think differently about the importance of our architectural resources. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "Oh, that's not historic."

Our mostly conservative culture isn't comfortable placing restrictions on the use of private property. Yet progressives want to see our historic architecture preserved and carefully reused.

Getting St. Louisans to think differently about the importance of our local architecture will take more than teaching them about the significance of historic buildings. It will take getting St. Louisans to become more willing to accept change.

And that has little to do with architecture.


Anonymous said...

What's your take on the region's general inability to build something new and architecturally significant?

One of the world's largest architectural firms is headquartered here -- and has yet to put its stamp on a world-class building here.

Rick Bonasch said...

A lot of the reason is the trend in our national economy towards the decentralization of office users and the relocation of "back office" workers into lower rent/lower cost areas.

Warehousing office workers into suburban cube farms does not inspire much in the way of significant architecture.

Nonetheless, in downtown, we do have new high rises arriving soon on the riverfront and possibly in the Bottle District.

And although we all have different opinions on architectural significance, I would say that HOK's work on our new $450,000,000 downtown baseball stadium is significant, paving the way for more significant development opportunities on the site of Busch II.