The proposal for a three block strip in downtown St. Louis overlays references to the geography, natural history, architectural heritage and consequences of its former industrial occupation. But the primary subject is the city itself. Seemingly without notice, this dense city, filled with brick and stone buildings, has transfigured itself into a patchwork of open lots where a thin layer of asphalt is able to seal away any recollections of what was there before. It is as though the small unit of the brick can be removed so easily that eventually the city could disappear without a trace. If my earlier projects literally framed something for the viewer to note, this one in an urban context makes use of a metaphorical framing device to call attention to cultural issues that affect everyone. The site becomes a piece of the city and represents the city. The project creates a transitional space which positions the viewer to make associations, reflect and draw conclusions.
In doing research, early visits to the basement storage rooms of the historical society had revealed what it was like to see a large group of chairs, tools or plates laid out. This image of collected objects became a starting point for this project. Was there a way to use the demolished historical buildings of the city as the raw material to configure this place? One could imagine walking around thirty different gateposts or column bases noting the differences and similarities within the repeated pattern.
The project develops a language that makes it possible to overlay the historical city, its modern infrastructure, and its buildings while at the same time drawing attention to the problems as well as potential in the city’s future. Through use of this site and the memories it begins to build, the forms found here start to suggest something beyond themselves to those who visit transforming the city into a subject for reflection. By making steps up in scale the connections between the fragments, the buildings and the city itself become tangible. Perhaps after seeing this project it is possible to see an abandoned building rather than overlook it.