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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

CORTEX Claims Another Historic Building

The O. Morse Shoe Company Building at 235 Boyle Avenue in the Central West End, better known as the SKH Paper Company Building, is likely to fall soon for part of the CORTEX biotech development project. Full story here.


Anonymous said...

This building should certainly be put to use. Can we start now by publicizing the other buildings that should be saved within CORTEX. I like the CORTEX idea, I hope it's successful, but I don't want it to be become a suburban office park in the heart of our city! What about the building just south on Sarah, west across the street from the grain elevator? The small office is very cool and should be put to use. Heck, if CORTEX employs as many as is hoped for, this should be a restaurant/coffee shop in the heart of it all. Employees aren't going to walk to Euclid or Lindell to eat/drink. How about the elevator itself?

Anonymous said...

Maybe more will soon see the frieze better at eye-level in the City Museum. Aside from this decorative touch high above the empty streets, this building really is just a brick box.

Michael R. Allen said...

The second anonymous poster must really hate to visit Washington Avenue downtown, where the once-empty street is walled-in by brick boxes that often lack extensive ornamentation.

Odd to suggest moving the ornament from the building to the City Museum, housed in a sparsely-decorated old shoe factory building that once was a likely demolition candidate before someone with imagination stepped in to buy it.

Anonymous said...

how is an expensive-ass, for profit museum more public and democratic than a PUBLIC STREET anyway???? its like nine bucks to get in now right?

why dont we tear down the second commenter's house and put it on display at the city museum for more people to enjoy it????

Anonymous said...

I work a lot with the Shaughnessy Pape r Co. I thought it worth mentioning that they moved from this building into a brand new gigantic steel box in the Westport Area. Not that it should surprise anyone.

Anonymous said...

But anony's house already is disposable architecture. It's one of those bland, Modernist boxes, small rooms and all. Like the utilitarian warehouses before it in the early 20th century, my mid-20th century home was also utilitarian, or built more for function than form. Of course, lurking on these building-hugger sites, I'm learning that Mid-Century is becoming quite the new rage.

As for my earlier post, I was just in a mean-spirited mood, and continue to be snarky. For I still believe that a generic building could easily make way for a higher use of the land. If continuing the analogy but adding my take, you shouldn't relocate my bland home within Cassilly's fun-house, but it certainly could make way for more expensive townhomes.

Anonymous said...

Generic? Are you trying to say that this nicely decorated, modest, yet handsome structure is generic? More bland, and banal in its architectural statements than the carbon-copy tilt-up facing Forest Park Parkway? Ah, yes we must sacrifice all that is "obsolete" for commerce. Actually, I suspect that the CORTEX consortium would prefer not to spoil the "brand" by muddying its "mission" by retaining any of the older structures in the vicinity. Sadly, we building-huggers(Amalgamated, Local 705) are likely to see more of our industrial heritage disappear, before CORTEX and the biosciences revolution collapse. Personally, I happen to think that a large portion of those who bear responsibility for this scheme--and others-- are embarassed or ashamed by St. Louis' industrial past, and are working as fast as they can to wipe out any traces of it. More bricks for Bellon and the other demo companies, anyway. Progress, we must have Progress!

Anonymous said...

If worried about industrial heritage, I don't suppose you would accept a swap of the nearby grain tower coming down instead of this building. Would even such compromise be unacceptable to the strict preservationists?

If citizens, business and electeds had held the same attitude that everything as it stands today should be preserved, you wouldn't end up with the very urban fabric of various styles and ages standing today.

History is cumulative, not frozen in time. Some buildings stay, some go, but the heritage is in the resulting, ever-changing mix.

Even when buildings stay, they still change. With people living in former garment warehouses, what's preserved? A facade, an appearance? If Washington Avenue no longer functions as an industrial district, why shouldn't the area eyed by CORTEX also evolve?

Michael R. Allen said...

The last anonymous commenter (why won't readers use their real names?) is pretty good at spinning this situation.

Yes, environments change and demolition can lead to good things. I am frequently the person to make arguments in favor of building greatr neighborhoods through long-term architectural accumulation.

So, nice try using that against my argument.

You forgot the other part: accumulation occurs through the market, not through government-subsidized multi-acre "master plans." CORTEX is as far from neighborhood-building as you can get; it's neighborhood annihilation on par with junk like WingHaven.

Besides, even if the master plan for CORTEX was based on common sense thinking about cities it still is producing some boring contemporary architecture. That drab box at Boyle and Forest Park is architecture-by-numbers.

Evolution is not forced, and it leads to BETTER neighborhoods. CORTEX ain't that by a long shot.

As for swapping Morse Shoe for the grain elevator, why not swap CORTEX for real urban planning instead? That false choice isn't even sensible, since the two are vastly different buildings that sit far apart from each other. And what about all of the vacant land in the CORTEX area? Isn't there enough to build upon?

It's not as if every historic industrial building in the CORTEX area still stands and I am arguing that every one must be preserved forever. Roughly one-third of the historic industrial buildings in the area are already gone or terribly altered.

Anonymous said...

Sure, CORTEX will be subsidized. If public subsidies help save buildings, why not use public subsidies for redevelopments that don't save buildings? Both rehabbing and redevelopment lead to economic activity eligible for assistance.

As for saving the history of the area through its buildings, at least the Ford Plant looks to be saved. Since not really a cohesive district in its present state, how many industrial buildings do you really need to remain in this part of town? With North Broadway's much larger inventory and Washington's more cohesive district, it's not like we'll soon forget our industrial history.

Anonymous said...

There are approximately 4 buildings that I could conceivably be worried about within this expansive redevelopment area. Look at a Google map - preserving some of these leave 9/10ths of the empty lots/wearhouses available to develop. The district will change, my thought was only that a couple historic buildings in the mix would prevent this area from appearing as though it could be on the Earth City Expressway.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what it looks like? isn't the jobs and tax base worth a couple demolitions.

Anonymous said...

Yes. In fact I believe jobs and an increased tax base are worth a lot of demolitions, but why not save 3 buildings among three dozen demolitions to give the area a sense of place? This can be done, money can be made and midtown can be made better.