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Friday, February 15, 2008

Venturo Capitalism


Rumors are circulating that the Danforth Foundation has arrived at a surprising plan for the Arch grounds: resurrect the 1970s Venturo House by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen by placing a line of one hundred of the houses on the western perimeter of the grounds. Apparently, the Foundation's planners realized that without strong connections to a residential population, any plan to develop the grounds would fail. The Venturo House has appeal due to the shared nationality and similar last name of Suuronen and Arch architect Eero Saarinen. (In this vein, the Foundation could ask band Rilo Kiley to perform on Dan Kiley's historic modernist landscape.)

If successful, city leaders have discussed the potential for building steel frames with elevators on several blocks of the Gateway Mall. Venturo homes could be hooked up to utilities that would run to each level of these towers. When a resident moved, that person could take their home with them and make way for a new resident.

Accompanying zoning and code changes would allow downtown building owners to place Venturo homes or similar modular homes on roofs -- or adjacent surface parking lots. The changes would allow parking garages to be preserved and their historic architectural features left intact should they fall vacant. Venturo homes -- arranged on special steel shims to adjust for the typical garage floor slope -- will allow preservation-minded garage owners to avoid demolition.

If true, exciting news!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do read this.

PE

Michael R. Allen said...

Thanks!

Ben S. said...

I am so gullible. You got me.

Anonymous said...

"The changes would allow parking garages to be preserved and their historic architectural features left intact should they fall vacant."

HA!

Anonymous said...

This is a very bad idea Mr Allen. Do we really want St Louis to be a hip city with downtown parks that actualy attract local residents? I say NO!

john w. said...

Joking aside, a flexible frame of sorts that would allow modular units to be inserted to create a variety of spatial configurations ATOP certain existing parking garages is not far from logical. The flexible frame would allow for periodic resculpting at least of the tops of these hideous garage structures, visible to all from the high office towers and offering some intrigue from those down at the street level. Of course, the 5 to 6 story facades of these monstrosities would remain a challenge for humanizing the scale at the street level. The support structure for the flexible frame would likely adress this. Where Kirowawa and Safdie have demonstrated how innovation can be challenging to the expected and traditional in recent history, contemporary installations could prove more amenable by making a good fit in the current environ of downtown St. Louis. At this juncture, any innovative approach to bringing life and excitement to a moribund downtown is as considerable as any other.

john w. said...

I'm sorry... that was Kisho Kurokawa, not Kirowawa. Sometimes, I'm an idiot. I apologize.

Brian said...

You should have saved this for your April 1 post. :)

LisaS said...

there at first, I thought the trustees of the Danforth Foundation had been drinking more than usual, or smoking something funnier than cigars.

of course, now you've set a high standard for your April Fool's post.