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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cultural Resources Office continues to hand the historic buildings of the Central West End over to institutions with bad plans

On Monday, the Preservation Board will review demolition of several buildings in the Central West End: the Ettrick Building, Schoenberg Residence Hall, and another on Euclid.

Read the Cultural Resources Office recommendation here. They recommend approval of the demolition of most of this block for a mid-rise medical building. The design, you'll notice, is remarkably similar to the Siteman Cancer Research Center across the street and appears bound to create an urban design monoculture that is stuffy and uninviting. I would also list the Majestic's building's days as numbered as well. It will soon be bordered by a huge parking garage to the west, a huge medical building to the south, and a huge residential tower to the north (if the Preservation Board approves the demolition on Monday, that is).

But the most ludicrous feature of the plan is the proposal to demolish the Schoenberg Residence for a park. Yes, a park to be located on Forest Park Avenue, which of course is named for the 1,200 acre park a half block away.

I will let you review the plan and let me know what your take on it is. Do you appreciate the institutional expansion?

I tend to think that the Cultural Resources Office/Preservation Board has no sense of what made the Central West End so vibrant. It was not merely the presence of great institutions (the BJC complex, the Archdiocese) but also the building stock of the area that helped to reinvigorate the CWE in the 1970s. Yet the CRO and Preservation Board have been complicit in demolition after demolition by BJC and, recently, the Archdiocese with the San Luis Apartments.

At some point, a balance is needed. Washington University's intended future demolition of the Ittner-designed Central Institute for the Deaf should be the last straw. And any new construction should do more than simply make a gesture. It should be exemplary, something new and exciting. This proposed new construction at Forest Park and Euclid will look very tired by 2029.

What are your thoughts?


Brian said...

I'm kind of mixed on the Ettrick. It's a great looking building, but those weird basement retail bays and the re-skinned buildings to the north make it a little odd. The proposed building is bland, but could add decent retail and good density.

Tearing down the other building for a "park" seems like a really bad idea. I guess BJC never noticed that there happens to be a pretty sizeable park just a block to the west!

Doug Duckworth said...

If CID and Shriner's gets demolished then why are we living here?

Matt M. said...

"Where do you want to meet?"

"Somewhere in the Central West End?"

"Okay. How about that park on Forest Park Avenue a block from Forest Park?"

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