Wednesday, April 11, 2012

City Affair to Host Visioning Session for Hospital Site

Forest Park Hospital Charrette
Next Tuesday, April 17th City Affair will be hosting a charrette style visioning session for the site of the former Forest Park (Deaconess) Hospital site at 7:00 pm at St. James the Greater School on Tamm. The St. Louis Zoo Foundation has announced plans to acquire the former hospital, demolish most of the structures, and develop most of the site for auxiliary use by the St. Louis Zoo. The currently proposed plan shows keeping only a 1982 black glass office building and a multi-level parking garage near Clayton Avenue. The rest of the site would be include expanded surface parking lots, suburban style landscape features, including a large reflecting pool, and a commercial development to be determined at the corner of Oakland and Hampton. 

City Affair believes that the proposed concept lacks vision and use of good urban design principals for such a prominent site. The visioning session will allow participants to conceptualize what they would potentially like to see happen with the site, while also including the desired zoo program uses including off-site parking, office and research space. With 13.5 acres, there are many possibilities beyond parking and office/research space.

On March 26th, the St. Louis Preservation Board gave approval to demolish the hospital buildings. The Cultural Resources Office staff report indicated that the hospital complex is not eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places due to alterations that have been made to the main hospital building. Some however believe that it could be potentially possible to individually list some of the more prominent supporting buildings including the six story Sisters Home and the three story Gerhold Hall School of Nursing, both by Gray & Pauley, constructed in 1942. Saving additional buildings will not be a requirement at the visioning session, but could be part of concepts for the sites reuse.

Deaconess Sisters Home
The Deaconess Sisters Home facing Oakland - photo from Cultural Resources Office

Additional background information can be found on City Affair's website. Please RSVP for the visioning session on the event Facebook page. The resulting concepts created at the visioning session will be entered into What Should Be's call for submissions, which has a deadline of April 27. At the Preservation Board meeting last month, zoo representatives admitted that the plan currently being shown is simply a place holder and that they will be seeking additional input for the sites eventual reuse.

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