Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cultural Resources Staff Recommends Keeping Shoenberg for Now

This week the staff of the Cultural Resources office recommended withholding at this time approval of BJC's proposed demolition of the Shoenberg School of Nursing on Kingshighway at Parkview Place. Here is the full staff report. BJC is proposing to demolish the building and replace it with an open plaza until a new building is built on the site several years from now. 

The Kingshighway entrance to the building. One thing that would likely be lost with a new building is an entrance on Kingshighway. Most of the newer buildings with the exception of the emergency room have entrances facing the smaller side streets or Euclid.

The building is not overly unique structure as compared to say the McMillan Building, the former Shriner's Hospital, or C. I. D. Buildings, but it is a decent example of early 20th century classical revival design. It was an obvious influence to the Kingshighway elevation of Children's Hospital.

More importantly however is the fact that the building is an important component in one of the more urban and highly visible high-rise street walls in the central corridor that extends from just north of Highway 40 at the former dogleg of Kihgshighway (now called Hospital Plaza) to the Park Plaza at Maryland Avenue, with the notable exception of the parking lots between West Pine and Lindell.

Like the Jewish Hospital Building north of Parkview Place, The Shoenberg building is set back slightly from Kingshighway and is fronted by a row of mature trees giving a very comfortable pedestrian atmosphere along the busy boulevard which has no street parking on the east side.

Along Parkview Place the H shape of the building becomes visible above the balustraded ground level and the the scale is equally pleasant along the street. 

Just East of the Shoenberg building along the south side of Parkview Place is the back side of Children's Hospital. The street at this point is treated like a back alley with the massive blank wall and louvers. Demolishing the Shoenberg building now would open a gaping hole in the Kingshighway street wall and expose an equally blunt building facade that faces a small alley between the buildings, something that should be avoided for an indeterminate amount of time. Hopefully the Preservation Board will agree when they meet on Monday.

I am not opposed to the eventual demolition of the Shoenberg building if it is replaced immediately with an attractive new high-rise structure in the name of advancing medicine and keeping St. Louis competitive in the constant race to keep the medical center one of the top rated in the country. The new building however must address both Kingshighway and Parkview Place in a manner that is complimentary to pedestrians and bikers.

1 comment:

STLgasm said...

I doubt I will be able to make it to the meeting this afternoon, but here’s my written testimony:

Dear Preservation Board,

I am a 10-year resident of the Central West End, and I am writing to urge you to deny preliminary approval to demolish the College of Nursing Building without a redevelopment plan. Over the years, countless buildings large and small have been torn down in our city with vague promises of “quality new construction.” With a few exceptions, our city has become pock-marked with parking lots, “greenspace” and vacant land, the closest of which is merely blocks away at the site of the old Doctors Building on Euclid and West Pine. Where a distinguished high-rise once stood, residents and visitors now pass a water-filled, litter-filled vacant lot in what is literally the center of our neighborhood.

Without a sound, smart redevelopment plan, the College of Nursing Building should be preserved. It is an integral piece of what comprises one of St. Louis’ most dramatic urban street walls. A vacant lot in this location would greatly diminish the visual and pedestrian experience of N. Kingshighway. Please don’t allow critics to add yet another footnote to St. Louis’ textbook history of misguided urban planning and disastrous redevelopment policies.