Demolition work at the Cochran Gardens housing complex north of downtown is nearing completion. After demolition of three low-rise buildings, wreckers are working to finish demolition of one of the two tall buildings at the former public housing complex.
Completed in 1953 and designed by architect George Hellmuth, Cochran Gardens was the first project built by the St. Louis Housing Authority that made use of "high-rise" buildings. However, the complex balanced two 12-story buildings with four wide six-story buildings. Nevertheless, Cochran Gardens set the stage for the Pruitt-Igoe, Darst-Webbe, Vaughn and Blumeyer housing complexes that were composed exclusively of tall buildings. In time, all of these projects have been cleared and redeveloped, most using the federal HOPE VI program.
Cochran Gardens will retain its second tower, transformed in the 1980s into elderly housing. That tower will remain as the first and last tall public housing building in St. Louis.