Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wash U Med Contemplates Demolition of Shriners Hospital and Central Institute Buildings

1929 Photo of CID from the Bernard Becker Medical Library site

Shriners Hospital Building

Alderman Joe Roddy has introduced Board Bill #443 which if approved would adopt a new "Community Unit Plan" for the Washington University Medical Center. A Community Unit Plan is a zoning overlay plan that allows development flexibility that otherwise would not be possible under the current single use zoning districts. The bill was first read on January 11th, and will be heard at a meeting of the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee on Wednesday January 30th at 10:00 am. The agenda has nine board bills to be heard in the one hour meeting.

The new plan outlines development of the medical center over the next 10 year from new construction, demolition, to an overall parking plan. Among a long list of items is the proposed possible demolition of both the Central Institute for the Deaf building at the southeast corner of Euclid and Clayton Avenues, and the Shriners Hospital building at the northeast corner of the same intersection.
screen shot of the bill's attachment map
buildings marked for demolition are shown on in red

The plan shows demolition of over a dozen buildings. Arguably the most architecturally significant of these are the Shriners and CID buildings. The Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children was built in 1922, and the Central Institute for the Deaf in 1929. Both were designed by architect William B. Ittner and executed in variations of the Mediterranean revival style that was popular at that time for institutional buildings. While both buildings may be in need of some renovation, both are clearly in great condition and have been well maintained over the years. Demolition of such buildings of this merit would be inexcusable.

The plan describes dozens of changes contemplated across the medical campus. For Shriners it states "Planning is under way to either demolish or renovate the old Shriner's Hospital at the corner of Euclid and Clayton Avenues" and for CID "Plans to renovate the 818 S. Euclid building are being reviewed at this time to determine the most efficient use for the building, or its demolition".

More photos of the Shriners building can be seen here on my Flickr page, and Doug Duckworth also has photos of both buildings here. I will do a another post in the future covering some of the other buildings included in the plan for demolition.

21 comments:

Chris said...

I am greatly concerned about Barnes-Jeiwsh Hospital's attitude towards the neighborhood around it. They seem to think that since they have an excellent medical repuation, that they can act in any way they damn well please.

I've got a message for them: just because you provide an invaluable resource to the community does not mean you can pass judgment on an entire neighborhood of a city. The Central West End is more than just the playground for suburbanite doctors who see historic buildings as impediments to their growth.

And besides, don't they have permission to build in Forest Park already?

Doug Duckworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Duckworth said...

Joe Roddy sucks!

Anonymous said...

I like both these buildings and walk by them often. However, these buildings are hardly part of the CWE neighborhood. I really do love the architecture, but the CWE or FPSE do not gain vitality or density with these buildings - maybe they gain a little funkiness, but again these buildings aren't really in the neighborhoods. If you were to show someone the CWE, you wouldn't take them to the corner of Euclid and Clayton. I hope they can continue to use the buildings, but I don't think the surrounding neighborhoods lose anything material if they're gone.

Chris said...

I agree that these buildings are not in the "heart" of the CWE, but I'm just worried that this establishes a slippery slope for Barnes's treatment north of the hospital. They've already hopped over Forest Park Parkway and butchered the south side of Laclede Ave west of Euclid. I am greatly worried about the intersection of Laclede and Euclid, which is currently a vibrant corner with outdoor restaurant seating. They are buying the building south of the Majestic and plan to demolish it. It's a little personal for me, as one of my closest friend's family owns the Majestic, and I'm worried that in a couple of years their building is going to be bought by Barnes and demolished for more parking garages.

Where is the line where we tell Barnes to stop expanding? Is it at Forest Park Parkway, Laclede or Lindell, or even Maryland?

I don't understand why Barnes can't build at higher densities. We've had technology for building skyscrapers 100+ stories for 100 hundred years, and they muck around with 5-10 story buildings that are quickly filled to capacity.

Vanishing STL said...

The fact that these buildings are not in the middle of a neighborhood is irrelavant. Yes, the area where the med center is located is somewhat isolated from its surrounding neighborhoods by a highway on the south, a park to the west, and Forest Park Blvd. on the north, but this does not belie the fact that these two buildings are significant examples of early 20th century institutional architecture by one of the masters of this building type.

Emily said...

I've always loved the Spanish/Moorish design of these buildings. Would hate to see them go.

LisaS said...

Both CID and the old Shriner's Hospital are lovely old structures that I would hate to see go away. I spent many hours studying both buildings when my children were younger and played at the playground more often.

Be forewarned that the same bill extends their power across 40 into Forest Park Southeast and along the north side of Forest Park Parkway from Kingshighway to about Newstead. Note that two of the buildings marked for demolition are in the Central West End. Michael Allen wrote about one of these, the Ettrick Building, on Ecology of Absence not too long ago.

I live here, walk in the area all the time, and I shudder to think what they might build there. I'm betting on some sort of mixed use building like the hotel catty-cornered from the site--although that may just be wishful thinking because the other option is another damned garage. Tax exempt, of course, since BJC is a non profit.

But there's no hope of anyone standing in their way.

diane said...

shriners hospital is about the only thing left of my childhood memories. they already tore down elias michael school and the forest park blvd. i know things never stay the same but the hospital should stay. it is a part of history.

diane

Anonymous said...

I try so hard not to visit your damn site. Everytime I do, there's always some new business about SLU or BJC or someother powerhouse corporation wanting to tear down this or that- & really, it just becomes another issue of my heart aching for the way St. Louis used to be. Not all this BS false representation of new glamour & glitz. The old way was so much nicer: glazed brick and terrazo, art glass and herringbone wood floors.
That's how we grew up in St. Louis... and anything lesser makes St. Louis look cheap and middle of the road.
Even when I visit from California nowdays, I see glimpses of the coast there & it's sad because St. Louis isn't the coast & it has no business imitating it. Or at least even trying to.

So please... to the editors of this site, try celebrating what St. Louis is and what it still has because anything else is truly heart breaking.

*a solemn wave to old St. Louis*

& Love from San Francisco.

Vanishing STL said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment. My goal here is not to depress people, although that often occurs. My goals are twofold. To educate people about what is being lost, and to get people angry enough to actually take it upon themselves to join the cause of stopping the madness of un-necessary demolitions. As you allude to, we have lost too many great buildings in St. Louis, and the losses continue. I know that not everything can be saved, but until the senseless demolitions stop, I cannot stop documenting.

Anonymous said...

I am a photographer and I find buildings like this to be very interesting. What is their current status-are they abandoned or currently in use? Thanks

Vanishing STL said...

The Shriners Hospital Building is in use by WU Med. In fact a quick look at City permit records shows they spent close to $200,000 in 2003 on interior remodeling, and another $300,000 in 2001, as well as several smaller amounts in between. As for the CID Building, I am not sure if it is currently occupied. It still has a CID sign on the entrance canopy. Again theough, this building's records show a totol of $453,000 in interior construction as recenty as 2004. Not sure if that was WU or CID expense, but either way, these are not "abandoned" buildings. They are in excellent condition and have been weel cared for. there is simply no reason for their demolition.

Anonymous said...

I would hate to see the Old Shriner's Hospital go as well. The Washington University Health Administration Program (started in 1946), of which I'm a graduate, was housed in this building for many years. While I have a warm spot in my heart for this building, it seems there needs to be rational discourse over the potential costs of tearing it down (i.e. a piece of history and architectural significance) Vs. the potential social benefits of a new structure (i.e. healthcare delivery and research). WashU Med School can certainly be viewed as a bully at times, but they have the capital (economic and human) to make great advancements in medicine and research.

Anonymous said...

ALTHOUGH, AS A PROFESSIONAL ARCHITECT I RESPECT GOOD ARCHITECTURE MORE THAN THE NEXT GUY, PROTECTING THESE OLD ROTTING BUILDINGS IS NOT ONLY A WASTE OF PUBLIC FUNDS, PRIVATE RESOURCES BUT ALSO DANGEROUS. MOST SHOULD BE TORN DOWN BEFORE THEY FALL DOWN. LET'S FACE IT StL IS A DYING CITY, IS FINANCIALLY NOT ABLE TO SUPPORT ITS MANY ON WELFARE AND JUST DOESN'T HAVE THE RESOURCES TO KEEP THESE OLD, OBSOLETE BUILDING STANDING. LET'S GET SOME NEW ARCHITECTURE IN HERE IF SOMEBODY IS SO FOOLISH TO BUILD. GET OFF THE REACTIONARY, KNEE JERK RESPONSE TO KEEP EVERYTHING OLD. READ YOUR NEWSPAPERS AND INTERNET IF YOU CAN READ: StL IT.S OVER, GET ON WITH IT. YOU OR I JUST CANT SWILL ENOUGH BEER TO KEEP THIS DECAYING CITY AFLOAT. GOD BLESS AMERICA, JOHN BERCHERT, AIA

Adam said...

^ wow, you'd think a professional architect would have something profound - or at the very least relevant - to say about beautiful buildings. just goes to show an architect need not have good taste to practice.

Adam said...

also, an architect apparently need not be literate, because this one missed the part about how these "rotting buildings" are recently renovated and meticulously kept.

John said...

Adam, you can comment at you like. You say tomato I say rotting--I really am not too worried about my misspellings--kind of petty to comment. However, I take umbridge with saying my comments were not profound. Sometime THE MOST OBVIOUS THING IS THE MOST PROFOUND THING. So, Adam, I'm a top architect working at a top international firm. How is it, somehow, you are even qualified to comment?

Anonymous said...

When the ground becomes more valuable than the building, guess what happens? Especially when a powerful corporation owns the land and can justify the demolition of an historic structure to the increasingly desperate city with more tax-paying jobs. All you need to do is take a look at a map of the area in 1960 and compare where Wash U. Med. School was then and where it is now and compare the population in 1960 to that of 2010 on a block by block basis. And then read all the horn-blowing and back patting WUMCRC engages in to justify what has happened to that neighborhood. Life goes on, only without many of the historic buildings and the far greater majority of the original residents. It's called urban revitalization, folks, and that's the way it works in the real world.

Teresa said...

My name is Teresa Im so much hoping they dont take down the Shiners Hospital Building I spent eleven yrs in there I had Polio they helped me alot. There is so much I remember about that building it was so very large to use when you are children. It means so much to me and alot of other people hope you have it in you to not take it down for a parking lot. There are to many parking lots now around there now. It would be the saddest thing if you did this. I will stay in touch to see what happens to this building....

John Berchert AIA said...

As the moderater alluded to it is not my intent to depress people either. And tho I am separated from one of those "powerhouse" coroporations I still feel it's my duty to give an informed and education opinion--thank God I don't have to go to St. Louis again. After all I am one of the best Architects in the USA. Also, granted, that does not trump a personal experience like Theresa's polio, however, I think practicality should win out and WE SHOULD DEMOLISH THESE OLD BUILDINGS WHENEVER WE GET A CHANCE. Whether it's Shriner's Hospical or the local gas station it does not matter. A new, well designed building will always beat the old.