Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clayton's Natalie Gayle Plaza Gets Homogenized

Last night we went into Clayton to satisfy our cravings for Fatted Calf burgers. As we walked down Bemiston toward the restaurant, I noticed the plywood wall built out into the sidewalk near the corner of Bemiston & Carondelet. I realized that it was Natalie Gayle Plaza, the small modern two story building with the sunken plaza at the corner, that was surrounded.

Coming Soon
It turns out that the building is not being demolished, but it is being completely re-skined for a new bank. The worst part of the "updating" is that in the sunken plaza the beautiful cascading multi-level fountain will be replaced with "ye olde clock tower"!

Natalie Gayle Plaza 01
A Streetview of the building before the construction. I've never thought the building itself was that great, but always liked the element that extends out and frames the edge of the plaza. This apparently will be retained, but its elegant angles will be replaced with a boxy look. St. Louis County property records indicate that the building and plaza were built in 1950. If anyone has information about the original architect, please share.

Fortunately I snapped a few shots of the plaza a few years ago. Besides the fountain there were a several pieces of modern sculpture scattered around the plaza.

While sunken plazas from the modern era can sometimes be inhospitable places, I always found the multi level fountain and arrangement of seating here to be one of the more attractive places in downtown Clayton (and those are few and far between).

The landscaping and floating element extending from the building gave a sense of enclosure without feeling cut-off from the surrounding area.

Standing on a trash can in front of the modern hi-rise next door, I was able to get a few shots over the 8 foot plywood wall. As I suspected, all traces of the elegant plaza have been wiped clean and will undoubtably be replaced with something much less interesting.

From the rendering above, it appears that the shading overhangs that extended from the south elevation of the building will be chopped off (or infilled) so that the new facade is perfectly flat.

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