Monday, February 11, 2008

More Wash U Med/BJC demolitions

As I mentioned in the last post, the Washington University Medical Center has introduced an master plan for the next ten years that calls for over a dozen demolitions. Below are some photos of some of the buildings marked for removal as well as explanations given in Board Bill 443.

Just north of the Barnes south tower is a cluster of fairly benign buildings that will be removed for "replacement bed spaces", diagnostic, and support areas. Replacement beds?... Hmmm, what are they replacing? According to the plan, the Jewish Hospital Building at Kingshighway & Forest Park will be demolished near the end of the 10 year period.

Nothing is listed in the plan to replace this building. So are we to expect an empty green space at this prime corner? Such a solution is viewed by SLU as an excellent use of a corner in several locations. Maybe BJC is taking some pointers from father Biondi?

South of the Jewish Hospital Building, across Parkview Place, the Shoenberg School of Nursing Building is shown to be demolished on the attachment map, but is not specifically mentioned in the text. I would guess that this could be to make way for future expansion of Children's Hospital, which surrounds the building to the east and south.

On Forest Park, just east of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, what is now called the Shoenberg Research Building is shown to be demolished for an expansion of the large North Garage just to the east. The buildings original use is inscribed in stone "Shoenberg Nurses Residence" over the entrance.

At the corner of Forest Park and Euclid the Ettrick Building is also shown to be demolished. Besides the CID and Shriners Buildings listed as possible demolitions, this building is probably the most archticturally significant building scheduled for removal in the plan.
The plan states that the Ettrick is to be replaced with a new building to house expanded resident clinic facilities, of approximately 200,000 square feet and structured for vertical expansion.

I will admit that I have mixed opinions about this one. On one side, there is the the fact that the Ettrick is a very attractive building and reflects the scale and feel of the Central West End. On the flip side, there is the awkwardness of its floor levels. Built as an apartment building with its basement raised halfway out of the ground, retail spaces we later added at this lower level and creating an awkward moat to access the spaces. The low headroom in these basement spaces and the moat and stairs taking the majority of the sidewalk space is a bit of a clusterf***. The urbanist in me really likes the idea of a new larger building with attractive functional retail spaces and a real streetscape along Euclid.

East of Taylor, the plan shows that the various institutions of the Med Center have been on a buying binge over the last decade, purchasing of over a dozen properties. Each property is listed with an address, building name, and acreage. The fact that acreage is specified show that they consider the purchases mainly for the potential of new development on vacant land, even if there is a building present.

This unadorned building at 4500 Parkview Place is listed as potentially being re-skinned and expanded... or demolished.

Further east at 4340 Duncan Avenue, the former Crescent Electric Building is planned to be demolished to create a development pad for the Cortex area. The idea this large flexible industrial building could be adapted for re-use (as it has been before) seems to be beyond the cognitive mentality of planners for the area. For more information about this building, see this post from Ecology of Absence.

In 2006, Magee's bar at Taylor and Clayton Avenues was purchased and demolished (Google caught the scene in mid-demolition) with seemingly no plan for re-use of the property. Apparently bars are not seen as conducive neighbors by the WUMC. You can see a few shots of Magee's that I found by fellow Flickrites here, and a nice detail shot showing the cast iron and a classic striped awning here.

One block east, another great corner building, the last gasp of urbanism at the intersection of Newstead and Clayton was purchased in 2004 and demolished. Anyone out there have a photo of this one?

One positive item gleaned from the plan is a statement in the last paragraph of text describing the plan: "The Washington University Medical Center anticipates future development of properties fronting Forest Park Parkway and/or located north of Forest Park Parkway to incorporate retail and mixed uses, so as to further integrate these properties into the urban environment of the Central West End."


Anonymous said...

You should focus on something positive in St. Louis, such as providing pictures of the Soulard Mardi Gras, which is certainly an uplifting event which contributes so much to the revival of St. Louis. For your information, following is a Draft Press Release which will announce an even better Mardi Gras to come:
Press Release, Feb. 17, 2008
Preparations are even now underway to make Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day

even more exciting than it was on Feb. 2, 2008.

For example, more exotic and costly floats are on the drawing boards. Some krewes

started design and construction as soon as a week after 2008 parade day. The underlying

float theme for 2009 parallels this year's theme: sophisticated floats which caricature and

imitate trucks. Just as in the Rose Parade, thousands of flowers are used to create floats

which resemble truck floats. It is really very unique, as all parade goers testify, and the

St. Louis floats always have put the Rose Parade offerings to shame. After all, Lumberous

Place, sponsor of the Grand Parade, don't sponsor no cheesy events.

In addition, more publicity for the festival, now billed as the "2nd largest

Mardi Gras celebration
" in the United States, is coming. Negotiations are underway with

FOX, CBS, Discovery Channel and BET to nationally televise the parade. Imagine the

favorable publicity for St. Louis when Siegfried and Roy, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen or some

similar sparkling personalities sit alongside Mayor Slay to moderate the parade to a

national audience. First in shoes, first in Mardi Gras is the objective.

Already St. Louis has several feathers in our cap to capture the national

spotlight. The New Orleans Mardi Gras is now borrowing our good ideas, such as our Krewe of

Barkus Parade. They have started to hold a similar event in the French Quarter, or what is

left of it. Hey, N.O., give credit where credit is due. They are obviously on their last

legs, while St. Louis is on the upswing, enjoying the favor of Fortuna, thanks to our


Parking problems are also being resolved. Both Soulard and adjoining LaSalle Park

have restricted parking, so all you party animals are urged to park in Lafayette Square and

Benton Park. The kind folks in Lafayette Square are so in love with their neighborhood that

they pick up after us, so it is less a clean-up expense to Mardi Gras Inc. Who knows what

goes on in Benton Park?

Finally, and most exciting, is an increase in the number of bars and restaurants

in Soulard. In French, the word "soulard" translates as "drunken pig." We are all

excited about living up to that. More and more buildings are being converted to or used as

bars and bars and restaurants. Mardi Gras fans are grateful for the excellent support from

political and redevelopment officials with the City of St. Louis, who perceive that the

family-oriented festival will help save St. Louis and bring it greater prosperity, just as

the increase in gambling facilities will contribute.

In summary, Soulard Mardi Gras profiteers are looking forward to bigger and better

things. As Official Parade Spokesman Back Madly comments: "Lazy less beantowns rolaids,"

which is French for "let the good times roll."

Anonymous said...

Man that guy loves Mardi Gras...

Anyway I can tell you that the Jewish Hospital building being one of the older building on the site, does need to be replaced building housing patients. Having had a loved one in that building numerous times in the last ten years, while the care from BJC is top notch, that particular facility is rapidly sub-standard when compared to the other buildings that help make Barnes-Jewish on of the top Hospitals in the country.

Anonymous said...

I lived in the old school of nursing this past summer and fall while at nursing school there. The view from the roof of Forest Park, the sunset, and the hot balloon race was amazing and something I definitely miss now. The actual rooms inside were not very nice though, as Children's hosptial wraps around two whole sides of the building and towers out any sunlight from entering directly.

It seems like your site focuses on buildings, but you might be interested in including a bit about the chunk of Forest Park that the hospital is trying to take over---I am not sure if they were successful yet. It's the bit with the tennis courts and playground.

LisaS said...

Hey, anon 1--if you want to hear all the spin, you should visit, or the Business Journal.

I have to say I'm really looking forward to the expansion of the parking garage. Twice as many people to endanger my life, speeding and running stop signs and red lights. I'm so excited!!

But this really is a depressing blog sometimes, Paul. I wonder how you can get away with it.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine lived in the old school of nursing building last year. The building definitely had beautiful views of Forest Park and the sunset from the easily-accessible roof, as another commenter mentioned.

However, the inside of the building was awful. The rooms were horribly small and dreary. The bathrooms were poorly ventilated, so that the entire floor became humid when someone took a shower. The ceilings were low. The heating system was terrible. I don't really know anything about heating systems, but I know that theirs was centrally controlled and that the building was sometimes so hot that my friend had to leave her dorm to go stay with friends for the night. Come to think of it, my beloved Eliot dorm at Wash U (also demolished) has a similar problem with heating, except that we actually had thermostats in the room.

Anyway, I don't think that the terrible interior necessarily justifies tearing down the building--perhaps redoing the interior would have been a better option. However, this experience gave me a different perspective on the tearing down of old buildings. My general position is strongly preservationist. In this case, I was able to at least experience firsthand why someone would want to tear down this building.

Anonymous said...

Also, I forgot to mention how noisy the rooms on one side of the building were at all times of day and night due to the massive air conditioning (?) system of the neighboring building.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? This backwards belief that old buildings should remain standing just for the sake of aesthetics is counterproductive. Why don't you worry yourself with something that matters, like the terrible crime, or the awful schools in the city?

I've worked in, and been inside most of if not all of these buildings. Stop crying and move on with the times. St. Louis must move forward, and it's people like this that prevent St. Louis from growing.

Anonymous said...

^ most who read this site care, so don't expect too many to agree with your comment. guess what. it's possible to upgrade functionality AND preserve at least parts of the original structures. guess what else. it's not just about aesthetics, but also conservation (not that anything built within the past 50 years holds an aesthetic candle to these turn-of-the-century beauties - you know, when architecture was still a craft). full-out demolition is often wasteful and LESS cost-efficient than renovation.

i've also worked in/been inside of many of those buildings and i still disagree with you. the old "stop crying and move forward" and "worry about crime and schools" tag-lines don't make you sound nearly as progressive and knowledgeable as you think they do.