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Monday, May 4, 2009

Mid-Century Modern Preservation in Grand Center

Grand Center, Inc., deserves recognition for a small but important step toward preservation of our mid-century modern architecture. Earlier this year, Grand Center completed renovation of the Loyola Building at 3840 Washington Boulevard just west of Vandeventer. This playfully articulated two-story building and a one-story wing to the west were designed by architect Isadore Shank and completed in 1958. Built as offices, Loyola Academy across the street once used the two-story section for classrooms. The one-story section was owned by a church group. The building is part of a row of modern buildings all enjoying the same setback; see Toby Weiss' post "Mid-Town Washington Boulevard" on B.E.L.T for more information.

The crisp modern lines are drawn here through smooth limestone. However, there is textural depth added through the patterned brick spandrels and what seems to be a painted wooden spandrel at the main entrance (at left) that reminds me of a patterned fir applique on Shank's Miller House (1963).

The detailing here is not as extensive as on Shank's elaborate DeBalieviere Building (1927) at Delmar and DeBaliviere, but it has similarities. The introduction of wall texture through patterns is similar, as is the breakdown of the potential monotony of repeated patterns through the articulation of the fenestration. This is a cool little building, and not well known among Shank's work.

Grand Center has recycled this office building as artists' studios and the home of the Pace framing company. The redevelopment organization could have done no better -- the Loyola Building did not need a lavish rehab. A little repair and painting renewed the mid-century strut, and all is well in the world.


Shannon said...

Love your blog. Please keep it up!

Vanishing STL said...

Grand Center Inc. did a great job with this project considering that they were working with a shoestring budget and the interior was quite a mess. I tried to get them to have the building listed on the National Register so they could get tax credits, but they were spending so little and did not want to mess with setting up a for-profit entity for the job. They have come a long way though from their initial thoughts of demolishing the building in 5-10 years for some other use according to some as yet to be completed master plan. They now realize that the building is a significant example of Mid-Century Modern.

The building is almost completely leased. Many of the artists were relocated from the Missouri Theater (Health Department) building on Grand, but some are new which speaks to the need for affordable studio space in St. Louis.

Grand Center Inc. now owns the matching one story building to the west as well. There was talk of renovating this as well for a single tenant, but i have not heard anything for a while.

Alex Ihnen said...

Now that's one sexy buliding. Preservation such as this needs to be widely and LOUDLY touted. One more example of an "obsolete" building being put to good use.

A.A. said...

It is a great building and I will boast that I currently have the art show in it (at PACE).

Brian said...

Where is Loyola now?

Malchionno said...

My studio is in this space and I love the building. I love that artists are sharing this unique space-recently my students took advantage of the window space with a print installation. I'm enjoying your blog very much!

Andrew R said...

Very interesting. I haven't previously seen this building, but will make a point to go by there. I've always loved Shank's DeBaliviere Building (years before I ever knew who Shank was).

I've posted a series of photos of it on my Flickr photostream as well as images of another Shank design.

dustin said...

That's great. Isadore Shank is a favorite. Thank you Grand Center for not continuing your parking, parking, parking, theory of revitalization. How'd that work out for ya?

Chris said...

This is just one of a series of interesting Modernist buildings on that block.