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Modern STL Holiday Party Date Set

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We’re pleased to announce that Modern STL’s holiday party has been booked, with the help of long-time supporter Ted Wight.

The date is set:

Saturday, December 12; 6:00 – 9:00 PM

We’ll announce the location in a separate email next week. Suffice to say that you will be impressed by the spacious, open-plan ranch house that will be the scene for our merriment. Designed by architect Ralph Fournier and built in 1963, the house is a treasure that most members probably have never seen.

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To receive the address of this year’s party location, please JOIN Modern STL at our very reasonable rates.

Optimists Club Building Set to Receive New Look

Rendering of the Optimists Club Building's proposed new appearance from Christner Architects.

Rendering of the Optimists Club Building’s proposed new appearance from Christner Architects.

At its October 26 meeting, the Preservation Board of the City of St. Louis unanimously approved Christner Architects’ rehabilitation proposal for the Optimists Club Building at Lindell and Taylor avenues in the Central West End [the building is a star in our Self-Guided Tour of Mid-Century Modern Architecture on Lindell Boulevard]. The proposed new appearance is shown above. The original corner building, designed by Hari Van Hoefen of Schwarz & Van Hoefen and completed in 1962, would lose its perimeter marble walls in favor of glass curtain walls. The addition, built in 1979, would undergo similar alteration.

The Cultural Resources Office recommended that the Board deny the curtain wall aspect on just the original building, which is a key modernist work in the Lindell Boulevard corridor. The architects argued that the construction methods and small windows were an impediment to the adaptation into Class A office space, and that the renovation would be as sensitive as possible to the original design intent. The renovation is proposed by The Koman Group. Modern STL refrained from comment, based on the fact that this building has faced a high likelihood of total demolition in favor of taller new construction. The form-based zoning code for the Lindell corridor calls for replacement of this building with mid- or high-rise construction.

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The Optimists Club Building as it appears today. Modern STL photograph.

The fact that a developer wants to preserve the building at all is a good thing. Modern STL’s inception grew from the demolition of the former DeVille Motor Hotel (San Luis Apartments) across the street in 2009. At that time, the Cultural Resources Office had no formal position on demolition and the Preservation Board’s members were divided on whether modernist buildings even had protection under the Central West End Local Historic District ordinance. Subsequently, the new ordinance grants protection of all buildings with architectural merit.

That this proposal led to substantive review at all is a victory. Some may decry the renovation, while others may accept the compromise. Yet the Optimists Club Building, a work of new formalist architecture influenced by Oscar Niemeyer, Edward Durrell Stone and others, shall remain standing for admiration and future debate.

Free Public Talk: “The Works of Eero Saarinen”

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A still from “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future.”

The St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and the Steedman Architectural Library of St. Louis Public Library present:

The Works of Eero Saarinen
A talk by John C. Guenther, FAIA

Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm (Steedman Room will be open at 6:00 pm for viewing the collection)
Location: Central Library downtown – Training Room (same floor as the Steedman Room), 1301 Olive Street.