Creative Exchange Lab Examines Revitalized Urban Architecture With 'ContextContrast: Part 2 St. Louis'

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

In-fill architecture is a key element in the effort to revitalize America’s blighted or forgotten neighborhoods. Creative Exchange Lab/ The Center for Architecture and Design Saint Louis will open the next exhibition in their continuing series examining urban redevelopment, “CONTEXTCONTRAST: PART2 ST. LOUIS,” Tuesday Dec. 17, from 6:30pm until 8pm at 635 Locust street. The exhibit will open with a lecture by Dennis Hyland, project architect at Kiku Obata and Company, discussing the nature of in-fill architecture and urban redevelopment in St. Louis.

The Regional Arts Commission Building Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

The Regional Arts Commission Building
Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

There is a growing trend in cities across the country of residential urban in-fill development: The use of land for new or further construction focusing on buildings and sites that are underutilized or have become obsolete. Essential in the drive to revitalize blighted urban areas, in-fill development is seen especially as a key component of redevelopment, growth and smart growth programs. The exhibit will look at in-fill architecture, compare the new against the old, and examine examples in St. Louis and its role in revitalizing the places where people live.

The Pin-Up Bowl was part of the Loop's renewal. Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

The Pin-Up Bowl was part of the Loop’s renewal.
Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

The Regional Arts Commission building was the foundation for the renewal of the Delmar Loop near Washington University. Within six years of the RAC’s construction, eight new or renovated buildings were completed while much of the original architecture was preserved. The Kiku Obata group designed the RAC building as well as the street’s anchor businesses, which include Pin Up Bowl, Pi Pizzeria and more. There’s no question that the revitalization has contributed to The Loop’s coolness factor, causing the American Planning Association to comment that the program resulted in an entirely unique street with a unique character. The RAC building will serve as the lecture’s focal point.

Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

Photo courtesy of Kiku Obata and Company

This new exhibition continues the arc that began with the first exhibition in the series, “Context/Contrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts 1967-2009,” first mounted in New York by the American Institute of Architects New York and The Center for Architecture. That exhibit—now extended until at least the end of January—looks at the relationships between new residential and commercial projects and the adjacent architecture of the historically significant neighborhoods in which they are situated. A new building will be added to the exhibit every two weeks with an architect lecturing on the designated topic.

“CONTEXTCONTRAST: PART2 ST. LOUIS,” opens Tuesday, Dec. 17, 6:30 until 8pm at 635 Locust. For more information, visit the Creative Exchange Lab/ The Center for Architecture and Design Saint Louis website.

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