Tuesday, August 21, 2007

St. Charles Street

While on the subject of the Merchandise Mart bridges, I just happened to run across these photos of St. Charles Street, the block of which is centered in the photos above and below disappeared several years ago with the construction of the very mediocre ballroom and parking garage block for the Renaissance Hotel. While I was thrilled to see the former Statler rejuvenated as part of the hotel, the new building to the west leaves a lot to be desired, mainly in terms of how it interacts with the street. The retail spaces appear to be an afterthought to plug the left over spaces. Mostly though, the removal of St. Charles Street created a super block that inhibits connectivity in this part of downtown.
While buildings dictate the character and feel of an area, the streets of a city and their layout play an equal or greater role in how a city feels, its walkability and scale. Standing in the middle of St. Charles in the block where the garage/ballroom now stands, the view east shows how St. Charles Street was first interrupted in the mid 70's with the construction of the Mercantile Bank Building (now US Bank) (more on that block in the next post). The two blocks east of that were taken in the 80's for St. Louis Center, the One Financial Plaza building (formerly Edison Bothers) and another parking garage. The faces of all of these blocks today suffer from a major lack of vitality that is crucial to the success of any urban center with maybe the only exception being 10th Street Italian and the recently opened Time.

1 comment:

LisaS said...

Shame, shame, shame ...