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New “6 North” Development Gets It Right

May 27, 2005 Planning & Design 4 Comments


Developer McCormack Baron Salazar has recently finished a mixed use development at the NE corner of Sara & Laclede (map.) This project is easily recognized as new construction yet it is complimentary to the surrounding neighborhood. So many new projects simply mock historic architecture and thankfully MBS has avoided that fate.

It is seldom a new project is built that I like. Over the last six months or so I’ve gone off on various buildings and streetscapes. People have asked if I like anything.

Well, I like this project. My compliments to everyone involved. If they had included a couple of bike racks as a public amenity I could say I loved the project.

At street level at the corner is a new coffee house. Apartments are on the upper floors on both wings. To the right, along Laclede, are additional apartments at street level. To the left, along North Sara, are small business spaces at street level.

The corner is separated by the rest by putting it closer to the curb and by raising it slightly. These subtle techniques help reinforce the importance of the corner which is so important in urban buildings.


Looking East along Laclede you can see the brick & metal fences to create courtyard entries for the street level apartments. One woman had already decorated her courtyard with potted plants and a colorful umbrella. She was sitting outside as I passed by. We exchanged hellos. Such exchanges are rare in suburbia with everyone in cars and gated subdivisions.

The combination of materials is quite pleasant. The black railings, windows and awnings look elegant. Typical white windows would have stuck out like a sore thumb. I love the industrial type windows. The part brick and part metal fencing provides the right balance between privacy and openness.

Note, the street trees have not yet been planted but spaces were left in the sidewalk for them at regular intervals.


Back at the corner are the tables and chairs for the coffee house. To the right is a covered area with more tables and chairs. Build-in awnings have a strong industrial look which really works for what they are doing.

The corner has a strong presence. The coffee house will ensure the corner is active and interesting.


The West face of the building, along North Sara, has affordable business spaces facing a semi-public sidewalk.

Again, the street trees have not yet been planted but the spaces are provided. A simple row of shrubs separates the main public sidewalk from the sidewalk for the business fronts. The row of greens is excellent because otherwise the amount of concrete would have been overwhelming.

The end of this facade, at the alley, pushes back out to the main sidewalk. The same happens on the other end as well. I like the way it reinforces the street line.


A local architect’s office is in one of the small spaces. When I rode by on my bike he had his office doors wide open. He had a couple of bikes inside, a sign he is a true urban architect.

Building has some great details. Starting at the base with cast concrete gives a nice lift off the sidewalk. The brickwork is also among the best I’ve seen lately. Awnings are usually these hideous things with the same shape from city to city. Here the architects have opted for a more stylish awning which serves the same function as those bulkier ones.

My only complaint about this building is the lack of bike racks. Some simple black inverted-u racks would have been a fitting addition to the sidewalk. I did notice they provided some bike racks for residents in the private parking lot behind the building. That is a thoughtful consideration but one that doesn’t help me when I visit the coffee house.

So far this is my favorite new construction project for 2004-05. What are your thoughts?

– Steve


Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Eric says:

    From the looks of the coffee bar’s menu, it looks like the same setup as Wash U. got this past year, essentially a satellite Kaldi’s. I’ll have to check this place out…

  2. It’s a very good building — also pretty much the only one I have lauded lately.

  3. Ben Jones says:

    That’s an excellent point about bicycles being a sign of a true urban architect. I so look forward to the day when we have to pay a fare for the isolating use of the SOV fuel powered vehicle, or the “special lanes” are developed and placed in isolated areas, so as not to interrupt the flow of pedestrian, people-powered and public transportation.

    Healthier hearts of people, healthier hearts of cities.

    I actually considered that space for officing, and seeing the architecture firm located at street level makes me think it’s worth another look.

  4. FrankD says:

    Also of note, all of the apartments are designed for universal access, meaning that the layouts make the apartments accessible to tenants with disabilities.


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