Sunday, September 28, 2008

6124 Enright - A victom of the Loop's Success

Behind the soon to be completed Moonrise Hotel in the Loop stood this simple modern building. The building was designed by and housed the offices of the architectural firm of Murphy & Mackey. Murphy & Mackey was one of the more innovative firms in St. Louis during the modern era, and brought us such landmarks as the Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church, The Climatron (based on Buckminster Fuller's concept), and Washington University's Olin Library (which has been horribly altered).

The building on Enright however was very reserved and somewhat utilitarian in nature. The covered driveway led to parking in the rear (a nice urban solution to the parking access issue).
The rear of the building shaded by a continuous canopy faced south to the parking lot. There was an entrance at the first floor off the porte cochere and a more prominent entrance at a mid-level between the floors on the east bay.
The main entrance framed by a glazed wall and a small paved area. The yellow awning is an obvious addition, in fact the original canvas awning shading system can be seen still intact under the brow of the canopy. The metal staircase at the northeast corner was added in 1995 according to City records.
This bench appeared to "grow" out of the paving.
The interior of the building was as straight forward as the exterior with exposed waffle slab ceiling and exposed brick at the end walls.
The one element of this simple building that stood out was a pair of narrow stained glass windows in the middle of the west wall. Inside, these windows were the only glazing in two private offices.

Detail of one of the windows below. Were these windows the work of Emil Frei, who created windows for a number of churches by Murphy & Mackey? I am not sure if these windows were salvaged or lost in the rubble pile.
Below is a portion of a much less ornate art glass window which flanked the first floor entrance off the porte cochere.

The building was demolished in fall of 2004 to expand the parking lot behind the Pageant. The expanded lot serves many of the newer developments in the Loop in the last several years, including the Pin-up Bowl, the soon to be opened Moonrise Hotel, the Regional Arts Commission, and several other retail/office buildings on the south side of Delmar which do no have much of their own parking.

The photo above shows the building prior before demolition, and below shows the enlarged parking area. The sad thing is that the small footprint was replaced occupied an area of only 12-18 parking spaces. In other words, the building could easily have been spared and the new parking laid out around it. The photos also show Wash U's clearance of several industrial buildings on the north side of Enright.

In addition to the building, an entire row of mature trees stretching almost the entire block were mowed down only to be replaced by saplings. These trees at least would have done a good job of screening the surface parking from the street.
Today this is the view from Skinker and Enright, a sea of asphalt with the new Moonrise Hotel rising in the background. Hopefully in the future this part of the Loop will be so successful that demand will dictate the construction of new mixed use buildings lining Enright with a garage behind. Such a concept has been proposed at least a few times on the large lot in U City off Kingsland, but has yet to come to fruition. With the Metro station only a couple hundred yards east, maybe it could happen here first.


Robert Powers said...

Those are Frei windows, one and all, as I live and breathe. The look is unmistakable, and as you note, the two firms had a notable history of shared work.

What a shame to have lost this building! The home of the firm that birthed so many wonderful buildings, now gone... what a shame. And to have lost Frei windows! It burns my soul.

john w. said...

tidy modernism of Kahn-like materialism in a tidy urban setting. I love architecture.

Brian said...

How sad. What a quirky little building.