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Friday, December 7, 2007

New Fleur de Lis Looks A Little Odd

A few weeks ago, the new St. Louis University Biolab building at Grand and Chouteau avenues gained an unfortunate appendage: a large fleur de lis atop the attached tower section. While the site plan for the building is abysmal, the building itself has many redeeming qualities. Overall, Cannon Design gave the building a restrained modern sensibility -- within the constraints of St. Louis University's constant use of architecture as branding. (Such practice mars both architecture and the brand, methinks.)

At night, the fleur de lis glows blue with neon light. It is a huge distraction from the building, and clashes severely. However, there is another problem with the symbolic flower. A friend and I noted that the center crest seems a bit low, and the wings -- yes, those are wings --too wide.

Here is the sign at night:



Here is a common fleur de lis symbol:



Something seems wrong with the proportions. The sign is too short and too wide. Perhaps it emulates not our city's symbol but a popular napkin folding shape:



The alternate meanings are many. The ascot could symbolize the laboratory's formality, or maybe its adherence to the academic tradition of inquiry. The napkin symbolizes cleanliness, an important quality for a laboratory. Napkins also suggest that the laboratory is well suited to "clean up" in the field of biomedical research -- a goal of local civic leaders. Of course, wings suggest flights of inspiration and the lofty goal of developing cures for human ailments.

12 comments:

thoughts from south grand said...

it looks like an ad for corn

Anonymous said...

Napkins, indeed.

More likely it is a canny reference to the Native American folk legend of the Earth Mother (usually pictured as a turtle).

Earth Mother/turtle is the immortal mother who stoically carries the heavy burden of mankind upon her thick back -- and who is honored for saving mankind from the Great Flood.

Fits perfectly on a life science building within a turtle's throw from the Mississippi River.

PE

Seeing St. Louis said...

That was hilarious.

Personally, the sign reminds me of those flowers on the underwater levels of the old Mario 3 games--the ones that open up and shoot fireballs at you.

Matthew said...

lol, mario 3 indeed. At first i thought this massive 15 foot tall sign was going to sit on the curb of the building, as it sat there for weeks. I was glad to see it become perched atop the building. Either way it's SLU's way of letting you know they think they own whole parts of town

Paul said...

the building reminds me of a airstream trailer.

Anonymous said...

^ High praise, then. I love Airstream -- and have plotted for years to have a vintage Bambi in the loft as a guestroom.

bellevegas said...

It's not supposed to be a straight-up fleur-de-lis, but rather a silhouette of the SLU crest.

http://www.slu.edu/x6300.xml

Anonymous said...

it's conceited in a way that doesn't make sense.

Digitizdat said...

Even compared to the SLU fleur-de-lis it's not quite right. It's too fat. It does look like a turtle. Haha!

Anonymous said...

The SLU crest includes the following elements: a cross, three letters, a wolf, a fleur de lis, a kettle, some nails, a motto, and the number 1818.

I know that the wolf is for Father's dog and "1818" is the door combination of Bannister House. What does the cross stand for?

samizdat said...

My GF and I are of the opinion that it resembles a jester hat. In fact, we've been wondering how we could "augment" these sundry displays of SLU's lack of good taste and design acumen. We've decided that affixing jingle bells--or the sticky, printed type--to the three arms would be a good solution. The ghettoized, sequestered campus, and these disjointed, poorly refined attempts to "own" or brand(and the city's collussion) to possess Grand from 44 to Lindell are nauseating. As for the design of the building...well, it looked much better in the rendering, and there is considerably TOO much wasted space on this site. I could go on about the building's shortcomings, but I've probably irritated enough the Biondi Loyalists who may be viewing this forum.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where people get their information or how on this earth they believe it to be true, but the post about the wolf and the year is completely wrong. 1818 is when SLU was established and I am not exactly where the wolf comes from (so I won't speculate like the rest of these fools and say things that I do not KNOW are true), but Father's dogs are named Gancia and Iggy so.....believe what you choose to I guess!