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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Have You Seen Our Downtown Model?

Recently, I received an email from a person living on another continent asking me if St. Louis had a model of the city and, if not, what organizations would sponsor such a model. Before I sent my first response, I did not think to mention the model of downtown St. Louis that once sat in the storefront window of Downtown Now! at 16th and Washington (now the TrailNet office).

Perhaps one of the reasons for forgetting is that the model is now tucked away out of the sight of the general public. Our downtown model, updated through 1999, now sits in the entrance lobby of the Planning and Urban Design Agency on the 11th floor of the office building at 1015 Locust Street. That space is public, but few people know that the model is there on display. I don't know the particulars, but my guess is that the city took it because it had space for it.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation maintains a scale model of the Loop in the ArchiCenter that is a continual draw of tourist traffic. Would our downtown model generate such interest? I think so. Storefront window space is a lot more precious now than it was in 1999, but we have obvious gathering spaces -- the Old Post Office atrium, the St. Louis Visitors Center, a window at a remodeled Macy's -- where the model might edify downtown visitors.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps City Museum?

Daron said...

That's a very humble model.

Thank you very much for posting this. I do hope it doesn't end up in a display window. Putting it in the very center of a huge public atrium or lobby would be my preference. Surrounding it with informative exhibits, expanding its size, details, and accuracy would also be great.

1999... that's ten years!

As said in the original e-mail, a model and urban planning gallery together is my hope.

Imagine this model of downtown along with 78 others in one giant hall. The whole city there to walk around in.

The City Museum is a possible place, but they'd need a dedicated area.

Tom Bradley, the director of the arch grounds, said quote, "Very thoughtful. I'll see if the idea can somehow fit into the proposed
design competition process."

john w. said...

Daron, I'd like to learn more about what you're referring to.

Michael R. Allen said...

Daron, thanks for jumping into this thread. Perhaps others will join in the larger discussion about a downtown urban planning gallery and its potential.

Who might the partners be?

These entities come to mind:

AIA - St. Louis

Convention and Visitors Commission

St. Louis Building Arts Foundation

Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Gateway Mall Foundation

National Park Service

Washington University School of Architecture

Urban Land Institute

East-West Gateway

There is a large public space currently sitting underutilized: the atrium of the Old Post Office.

Daron said...

the origional e-mail started with, my praise for the Singapore City Gallery.

The Gallery takes up three levels of a downtown building. They have three scale models of the downtown, the central region, and the island/country.
Pictures here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Redevelopment_Authority

The main space is for rotating exhibits. It is run by the government, so it gets most of its models and exhibits from the developers themselves. They simply require the designers to submit scale models to them as part of the development process.

When I lived in Singapore I visited the gallery at least twice a month and was always pleased to see the exhibits changing and inspiring. Singapore holds a lot of architecture competitions, so you get to see all the applicants. They also have a lot of masterplanning models for specific neighborhoods and whatnot. You often see kids on field trips running around with fill-in-the-blank worksheets.

In visiting there, I found myself consistently thinking, learning, and enjoying. I felt involved. I really believe every city needs one of these.
That's more or less an excert from the e-mail. Mr. Bradley's response was incredibly brief and consisted only of what I quoted above.

Michael made a very good list there, and I think all of those potential partners would certainly have a stake in such a project.

Daron said...

so who has control of the old court house atrium?

Daron said...

I meant Old Post Office. My mind was elsewhere.

Daron said...

I just wrote up a full tour of Singapore's urban planning gallery here,

There are lots of pictures, enjoy.