Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Winning by Design Architecture Awards Honor Simple and Honest Buildings

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Winning by Design Architecture Awards Honor Simple and Honest Buildings

Article excerpt

HOW can three architects and one architectural journalist from the land of the Mall of America presume to judge St. Louis architecture?

After all, St. Louis has preserved Louis Sullivan's transcendent Wainwright Building and has managed to adapt its superb Union Station for viable re-use, while Minneapolis has torn down most of its great 19th-century buildings, including the classical Great Northern Depot, and is still looking for a way to use the Milwaukee Road Depot and its spectacular iron-trussed train shed.

Nonetheless, in a kind of architectural Highway of Saints, I found myself in an airless conference room a couple of weeks ago paging through photographs, drawings and floor plans of projects submitted by members of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for its annual Honor Awards program.

The other judges and I saw renovations, office/warehouses, college buildings, convention centers, a church, a casino and so many recreation centers that we decided St. Louisans must be even healthier than Minnesotans. There were 38 architectural projects in all, 15 interior projects and 11 in the "vision" category, which can be roughly translated as unbuilt or unfinished.

What we looked for to find the Honor Award winners were buildings that hung together - not literally, of course, but figuratively. That means buildings whose appearance fit their purpose.

At St. Mary's Health Center Emergency Room, for instance, a large circular canopy covers the entry. It's not just a pleasing form that looks nice with the rest of the building. It also signals where the entrance is to those approaching and protects them from the elements when they get there. And it wasn't fussied up or overdone.

We also looked for consistency throughout the design. Did the aesthetic signals sent by the exterior of a building continue once inside, or was it sending mixed messages? …

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