Design for Grand Center Garage is Unacceptable

Grand Center garage

There’s a Tadao Ando building in St. Louis. That’s a big deal. There’s a Brad Cloepfil building too. That’s a big deal. They’re on the same block in the city’s arts and entertainment district, Grand Center. If you spend any time there you will see people from all over the world taking pictures, standing in awe, amazed that such notable architectural landmarks are seemingly tucked away in a little corner of St. Louis.

Pulitzerfoundation{The Pulitzer Arts Foundation by Tadao Ando}

CAM day{Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Brad Cloepfil}

Of course Grand Center isn’t exactly hidden. The Fox Theatre is a remarkable architectural landmark itself, the kitschy Siamese Byzantine the perfect mark of another era, if not a singular architect. Powell Hall, the Grand Center Arts Academy and Sun Theatre, the Grandel Theatre, the Metropolitan and Continental Buildings, all landmarks.

The proposed parking garage planned by Fox Associates (no connection with Fox Architects), owners of the Fox Theatre, on Washington Boulevard, the same street as Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Cloepfil’s Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and the Sheldon Concert Hall, should not be allowed to be built. Not only would it be a terrible blight on the district, the developer is requesting a 10-year tax abatement.

Grand Center_Fox garage{location of the planned parking garage}

The St. Louis Public Radio building brought a new asset to the district, as did the award-winning adjacent Public Media Commons. Plans for the Arts Academy Plaza is also of well-thought out design. The rooftop addition to the Big Brothers Big Sisters building next to the Continental, is a nice contemporary addition. The KDHX space and nearby Jazz at the Bistro and Jazz St. Louis were high quality historic renovations.

Millions more are planned for streetscape improvements, and Art Walk, and significant developments east of Grand. The value of these investments are lessened if this garage project is allowed to be built. Sparkly sidewalks and LED lights simply will not and can not make up for the introduction of a facade as proposed.

As huge investments have introduced contemporary architecture and quality public space to the district, this garage would do significant harm. Anyone who supported these investments should oppose the introduction of this garage on Washington.

The Sheldon Concert Hall{The Sheldon Concert Hall}

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.48.13 PM{historic home and Pulitzer Arts Foundation offices}

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 6.30.09 PMIf structured parking is a necessity, and as more development is planned, it likely is, structures need to be required to be wrapped with office, retail, or residential space (concept to right). Grand Center is, or should be, our region’s most valued cultural destination. This garage shouts to everyone that we don’t care, that any old garage will do.

The 3700 block of Washington is home to internationally known, significant works of contemporary architecture. It’s an asset to Grand Center and to the larger St. Louis community. The proposed garage is a blight, it’s terrible, it’s no good, it’s awful, it shouldn’t be built.

Previously, we’ve called for an investment in parking garages. St. Louis is going to continue building them, but they need not be awful. Grand Center deserves something akin to 1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron. Miami’s “living garage” creates interest and is something of an attraction itself. But nearer to home, Kansas City public library receives regular praise for it’s facade of books, and the Centene garage in Clayton implemented real design thinking to at least minimize the deadening facade. If Clayton demands something better than the minimum, can’t our region’s home to arts and culture?

Big Brothers Big Sisters rooftop{Big Brothers Big Sisters rooftop bistro}

KWMU{St. Louis Public Radio in Grand Center}

public media commons{Public Media Commons}

Bull Moose{image by Lawrence Group of development vision east of Grand}

Art Walk{rendering of Art Walk facing Public Media Commons}

{Arts Academy Plaza}

Parking garages that aren’t awful:

1111 Herzog de Meuron{1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron}

{the “living” garage in Miami}

{Kansas City public library garage}

Centene garage_Clayton{Centene garage – Clayton}