Home » Accessibility »Featured »History/Preservation »Planning & Design »St. Louis County »Walkability » Currently Reading:

An Urbanist Look at the Lewis & Clark Branch Library

For quite a while now I’ve seen the posts about saving St. Louis County’s  1963 Lewis & Clark Branch, located at 9909 Lewis & Clark Blvd.

The east facade of the branch of the St. Louis County Library
The east facade of the branch of the St. Louis County Library features decorative windows

Here are some examples of the posts:

I hadn’t written about this subject before because I’d never been to the Lewis & Clark branch, but that changed Friday. I took the #40 (Broadway) MetroBus to the Riverview Transit Center, then the #27 (No County Shuttle) directly to the library. I spent some time inside both levels, and outside.

Here is an incomplete list of arguments for both sides:

Arguments in support of replacement:

  • Over 50 years old, old plumbing & electrical. etc.
  • Poor relationship to neighborhood, main street
  • Windows are inefficient
  • Doesn’t meet ADA guidelines
  •  Can remain open while new building is built

Arguments in support of renovating/adding on

  • Only branch in St. Louis County considered architecturally significant
  • Designed by Frederick Dunn
  • Design still looks good, fresh
  • Reusing the existing structure more sustainable than dumping it into a landfill
  • This part of St. Louis County has few structures on which residents can take pride.
The library seemed very busy during my Friday morning visit.
The interior of the main room.
The drinking fountains on the lower level don't meet the ADA, still not a reason to discard the rest.
The drinking fountains on the lower level don’t meet the ADA, still not a reason to discard the rest.
Looking back toward the bus stop we need more ADA issues. Site issues, however, don't require  new building to be addressed.
Looking back toward the bus stop we need more ADA issues. Site issues, however, don’t require new building to be addressed.

Based on my observations, the library is too small by today’s standards. It seemed busy during my morning visit, much more space is needed.  ModernSTL proposed a pretty predictable addition, which copies the original design. Good additions to historic buildings don’t mimic or repeat the original. That said, the idea is right. New entry connecting old & new wings.

Concept from ModernSTL with original on the left and addition on the right.  Click to view their post
Concept from ModernSTL with original on the left and addition on the right. Click image to view their original post

I do like the idea of turning the entry toward Lewis & Clark Blvd(367), and getting St. Louis County/MoDOT to put a public sidewalk along the west side of 367 from Chambers Rd to Berwyn Dr, roughly 3/10 of a mile. This would connect users of the #61 MetroBus route on Chambers Rd to the library site. Currently only a shoulder exists.  Better pedestrian connection in the area should be considered and planned for regardless if a new building is built or the existing structure gets a needed addition.

I don’t think the St. Louis County Library board has given any thought toward renovating this historic structure, which is a real pity.  We need leadership that considers retention of historic structures, especially when it is their only one!

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    A few other notable historic structures in North County…(there are many, remember, North County development pre-dates most of South County. Why? Much more fertile soil for one thing)…anyhow…off the top of my head:

    Twillman House in Spanish Lake
    Fort Bellfontaine (not sure if its both a fort and a home, or if they’re in two locations. One is a nice park on Bellefontain Road)
    Old town Florissant area is filled with history
    Same with old town Ferguson
    Cool mid-century buildings dot much of N. County
    The round tower apartment building on 367
    The massive old convent/institution castle-looking building near UMSL you can see from the Metrolink (in winter), which now lives as senior housing
    Thousands of distinctive homes and subdivision developments all throughout the near north county area

     

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: An access token is required to request this resource.
Type: OAuthException

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe