New Single Family Home Coming to the Central West End (4321 Maryland)

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A new single family home will be constructed at 4321 Maryland in the Central West End. A $300,000 building permit application is on file with the City. The owner is Ryan Denisi.

The home is located in the Central West End Local Historic District and therefore required City approval of design prior to construction. That approval was granted at the March 2014 Preservation Board meeting.

Below is a drawing of the front facade, obtained from the City’s Cultural Resources Office’s March 2014 agenda:

4321Maryland

And here is a Google Streetview capture of the current vacant lot:

4321MarylandVL

Click here for a map of the area.

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  • onecity

    What exciting brickwork! I love its exclusive use of stretchers! God forbid anyone use headers or pattern variation…And what’s up with the brick extending below the first floor. Ever heard of exposed stonework? I mean, if you’re going to insist on historic styles, at least demand that they get the details right!

    • Mathew Chandler

      Technology has changed people don’t build stone foundations, and in my opinion real brick would be better than faux stone. I totally agree with what you are saying, I think it would be ideal to have all new development mimic historic structures, but if the city required every detail to match im betting most people would say “to hell with it im building in the county” or at least outside of the regulated historic district, after their proposed development was denied a few times. It is much better than some infill development the city has allowed. I almosed puked when i drove through “The Gate” neighborhood.

      • john w.

        you think “it would be ideal to have all new development mimic historic structures”? Seriously? Architecture should speak of its time, and not needlessly ape ages past. Your avatar appears to be an image of Jane Jacobs, who would undoubtedly dismiss such a notion of forced homogeneity and cheap fakery out of hand. Urban richness, as Jacobs provided much descriptive writing of, is comprised of a diversity of styles and materials, and is ultimately a matter of structured form rather than simply styles or materials. Replicas add nothing to city character, but instead take the place of something that could genuinely have. Architecture that does not move forward grows mold.

        • DanieljSTL

          There are far too many details of late 1800’s and early 1900’s architecture to pull off with any accuracy, and most builders would never be willing to take the extra time and pay attention to details to pull off a replica. No matter what they do, it’s likely to end up standing out as new construction on a block full of majestic Victorians. It’s like the guys who put body kits on corvettes and call them Testarossa replicas. Why bother?

          While I appreciate the fact that the district wants to approve the build, it seems silly to try to replicate something, just because it’s in a historic district. I took one look at the drawing and immediately noticed 5 or 6 details that set it off as new construction. Even the untrained eye will be able to tell that this is new, once it’s complete and surrounded by history.

          It would look ridiculous if someone tried to build a McBride style plastic siding, front entry garage, suburban home there, but who am I to criticize someone for filling an empty lot where the weeds are knee high? Congrats on the build. Hopefully the new homeowners take pride in their neighborhood.

          • john w.

            For the record, I am the architect on this project, and can report that the owner does just that. Land development is a tough game to play when the developer has a bottom line that is, to it, more important than lasting urban legacy. I’ll leave it at that.

          • john w.

            Actually, I’ll add that the developer is comfortable working to fill holes in our city, but the game is hard to win if you’re a lover of good form and quality architecture.

        • Mathew Chandler

          John, my post was a response to the first comment, and then taken out of context by you. I believe in the historic districts that newer development should meet requirements to preserve the character of the neighborhood. I have also noticed great responses to this type of infill on this website and others alike, so I do not believe that I am the only one who feels this way. St. Louis has many examples of terrible infill development so one like this is much better than ones such as the Gate District, suburban homes right next to Lafayette Square and other historic homes, looks terrible; This is done all over the city. I do agree that newer development will never completely match historic homes, and that they are easily spotted but at least try, that is what the standards are there for. These standards are what keeps out the vinyl siding and suburban infill. Are you saying that there should not be design standards when building in an historic district? I agree that architecture should have more of a goal than to mimic the past, but also I do not feel a Le Corbusier would fit well in this neighborhood. Out of curiosity could you please provide examples of magnificent recent residential architecture which has been built in the city of St. Louis?

          Ps. why is everyone so angry when posting on these discussion forums? I’m here to gain knowledge and spread my point of view, that is why i go to websites which that is possible.

          • Mathew Chandler

            Perhaps this is a bad infill project. A more modern building should have taken place here?

            https://nextstl.com/2014/05/new-mixed-use-building-rises-soulard-1831-s-7th/

          • john w.

            Regarding the preservation of quality neighborhood character, the reverse of your argument is true. The road to proverbial hell is paved by the good intentions of historic standards, and this is because today’s construction economy (not the nation’s economic health, but instead the economy of available materials and skilled crafts) cannot provide for the quality of vernacular building that is the past history of our city (and any other, really). The historic standards instead squelch quality design and construction by constraining infill development to replicate the irreplicable, instead of liberating ourselves to progress along with the unstoppable, forward march of time. The prevention of vinyl siding is far less assured than you may realize, as most neighborhood historic codes allow for ‘mullet’ homes because their concern is with literal facade and not gangway appearance. Most city lots are quite narrow (25′ to 30′, typically) and save for corner lots most historic codes allow for a short return of the facade materials around the sides of the home, and then to transition to more practical materials that match today’s construction economy.

            Your assessment of the appropriateness of Corb’s design esthetic as contrasting to historic structures is subjective, and I’ll just simply disagree with you on this point. I cannot take your adjective “magnificent” and easily apply it to many examples of recent city infill, however Mike Killeen’s firm and CDO have availed themselves of their opportunities to present modern infill directly in a dense, historic neighborhood fabric, and this is just to name a couple of practices. Jo Noero’s three infill pieces in Bohemian Hill (near the new Walgreen’s and grocery store development across La Fayette Boulevard from the Georgian, which was previously City Hospital) have stood the test of time quite well, and this particular example is very instructive as to the ability of architecture to both respect and refer to historic context, while also marching forward.

            Progress is simply that- progress. Anything else is either stasis or regress, and unless you’d prefer to create a protectorate of time-frozen architectural expression then you may want to reconsider your preference for constraining codes. I don’t think you should have read my response as “angry”, because there’s nothing belligerent to be read. You argued that you believed it would be ideal that all new development mimic historic structures. These are your words. A vast preponderance of educated and experienced architects, and frankly many preservationists, would not agree that all new development simply mimic historic structures. The very act of mimicry seems to suggest that originality is without purpose or value, and that if one is not prepared to simply sing the same song, with no variation in melody, phrasing, tempo or lyrics, then one may as well just keep quiet. I don’t believe this is a good thing, and that instead all new development should be a marker of its time and not simply an echo.

          • Mathew Chandler

            As stated before in my response that comment about ” it would be ideal that all new development mimic historic structures” was taken out of context. In historic districts these design standards should be in place. I am all for great architecture and progress of design.

          • john w.

            …but I’m challenging that very notion. I’m not drawing a distinction between neighborhoods with historic codes, and those without. I’m very simply stating that historic codes themselves tend to force results that are generally not flattering to their context. I’m flatly disagreeing that it would be ideal if all new development mimics historic structures. There is no ripping-out-context occurring with my response to your words. I’m challenging the notion that cheap fakery is good for historic neighborhoods.

          • Mathew Chandler

            “I’m flatly disagreeing that it would be ideal if all new development mimics historic structures. ” I am agreeing with this and have since my very first response.

          • john w.

            You appear to be ignoring your own words when describing infill in neighborhoods with historic codes, so you may be half-agreeing with the generic idea that progress is better than stasis, but again I’m stating that the idea is not only a generic one. It also applies to contexts that are defined by their historic architecture, and that are cuffed by the strictures of code.

          • 314_stacy

            This discussion is interesting. i agree with those who believe that design standards should be in place. over all a good project though.

          • john w.

            Design standards based on form, and not on styles, should be in place. Style is a marker of time period, where form is a structured ordering system that virtually ensures that the response to the context is positive, irrespective of style.

          • HKC

            I don’t necessarily think that we have to go in the route of, “cheap fakery” to get the result of new buildings mimicking the look of older buildings. I don’t see how an effort to create the same sense of place and to maintain that sense of place would have to be cheap. Maybe if we had more developers who really cared about the historic districts instead of making money we would be able to really accomplish this.
            Nobody likes cheap fakery.

          • john w.

            Granted, but unfortunately the game of development doesn’t often make room for munificence. It simply IS about profit, and if the rules provide some line up to which a developer can place his or her toes, then it’s all but over for much hope of quality, built infill. Because of today’s construction economy, most things need to be cheap in order to stay within project budget. Sense of place is afforded by form, and the response to form, and not applied style. The very neighborhoods that adopt historic codes are so attractive because of their physical form (street cross-section proportions when including building walls, R.O.W. features and the breadth of the paved corridor itself, for example). Soulard is great because of form first, and the ‘style’ of architecture seen only happens to be what was common during that historic period. Push those 130-year-old buildings 10 feet further apart from one another, rip out all of the trees, widen the streets by an additional 10 feet and you no longer have Soulard, but instead a bunch of 130-year-old brick buildings with unsightly fill brick side walls behind the facades and odd gaps between.

          • dempster holland

            I would assume that before the era of zoning codes (1920s) many
            buildings were built that did not conform to the design of
            other buildings on the same block. Yet this created the
            variety that is the hallmark of an urban neighborhood as
            opposed to the uniformity of many suburban neighborhoods
            Your work appears to be quite acceptable, and people must
            realize that we no longer have skilled German immigrants
            willing to do brickwork for peanuts. And as the man said, no
            good deed remains unpunished

          • john w.

            When Jacobs was describing the old north end of Boston in her seminal work (D&LGAC), she was describing the richness that was the result of accretion- the deposits over time that were left by multiple generations of inhabitants. This richness would neither had been the result of constraining codes, nor allowed its natural future course beyond any of those past generations if constrained by codes.

          • HKC

            I agree, Mathew. I think that the lack of standards could completely destroy the character of the existing neighborhood, but if we insist on too many strict and unreasonable standards, developers will go other places in which they are able to build without such strict standards. I think the goal is to maintain the sense of place that the neighborhood has by designing and developing to complement existing buildings, which in turn might require slight homogeneity. I’m not saying exactly the same like cookie cutter houses in the suburbs, I’m saying having details that tie the neighborhood together.
            Obviously, we would all like to see these historic homes preserved, but in cases like this when the land is vacant doing our best to keep the character of the neighborhood is key. Understandably, we cannot create exact replicas of what was once there, nor would we want to, but the design standards should be the same.

          • Mathew Chandler

            Agreed

          • craigstl

            Some architects only think about one building instead of the neighborhood/area.

            some also anger easily

          • john w.

            The ‘anger’ quip seems a bit hackneyed now… yes?

          • craigstl

            I agree that you read that comment wrong. she/he wasnt arguiing that all development, “regulated historic district”

            i also agree you seemed “angry”

          • john w.

            …perhaps conversations vis-a-vis humans and not machines would allay some of the conclusion-jumping that goes on with electronic media. “Seemed ‘angry'” because I offered my opinion with a direct challenge to his? Skin must be getting thinner than rice paper these days.