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Developing Vandeventer & Forest Park: IKEA — Exception Or New Rule?

Big box stores with surface parking lots don’t fit in urban contexts — they’re sub-urban. For example, the Menard’s in O’Fallon IL I drove past on Saturday, a MetroBus stop is right out front but there’s no accessible pedestrian route to get to the entrance. See it on Google Street View here.

Decades ago the big boxes were the downtown department stores, but those days are long gone. However, a few big box retailers have taken over some of the vacant space left behind by shuttered department stores.

Taget in Chicago's former Carson Pirie Scott department store designed by Louis Sullivan. February 2014. Click image to view the Wikipedia entry on the building
Taget in Chicago’s former Carson Pirie Scott department store designed by Louis Sullivan. February 2014. Click image to view the Wikipedia entry on the building

More often, big boxes have been trying to fit into walkable urban neighborhoods; they’ve been concealed by smaller liner storefronts, stacked, etc. The Target at Hampton & Chippewa is built over parking, but it still has surface parking facing Hampton & Bancroft, with docks & garage facing Chippewa. Inevitably someone says “it’s better than what was there” or “It’s better than the location in [insert any suburban municipality.”  Sorry, but new development will be around for 20+ years, so standards should be higher than simply doing marginally better than  awful suburban development or old derelict properties. Which brings me to IKEA St. Louis, located on the SW corner of Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave.

IKEA's blue & yellow big box set behind a surface parking lot at Forest Park & Vandeventer. View from the point where the two public sidewalks meet.
IKEA’s blue & yellow big box set behind a surface parking lot at Forest Park & Vandeventer. View from the point where the two public sidewalks meet.

Opening day I ran into an acquaintance at IKEA — she also arrived via MetroBus — she hadn’t yet seen my post on the pedestrian access points. Upon arriving at the corner pictured above how would a pedestrian know where to find accessible routes to the entry? By big box standards, IKEA St. Louis did an excellent job providing pedestrian access routes from each go the three adjacent streets, but the massive setback from the sidewalks

The big question now is what will happen at development sites around IKEA St. Louis? Other buildings, old & new, within a block of the intersection are all urban — built up to the public sidewalk.

Two other corners contain urban buildings a historic firehouse and a new apartment complex built around a parking garage
Two other corners contain urban buildings a historic firehouse and a new apartment complex built around a parking garage
The 3-story building on the NW corner was razed 4+ years ago. At right you can see the South end of the historic Gerhart Block that I posted about on Friday.
The 3-story building on the NW corner was razed 4+ years ago. At right you can see the South end of the historic Gerhart Block that I posted about on Friday.

In July 2011 I posted about the building on this very same corner being razed. The Southeast corner, except for the firehouse, is to be retail.

The firehouse is supposed to remain, will help "hold" the corner. But how will everything else relate to the street & sidewalk?
The firehouse is supposed to remain, will help “hold” the corner. But how will everything else relate to the street & sidewalk?
Behind the firehouse is largely an old industrial site
Behind the firehouse is largely an old industrial site
But even the old industrial office is urban in form
But even the old industrial office is urban in form
The urban form continues across Spring Ave
The urban form continues across Spring Ave
nnn
And across Forest Park Ave more urban form. Will the new retail to the South respect the urban pattern?

One of the most critical development parcels is immediately to the West of IKEA, at 4052 Forest Park Ave.

Looking West from the IKEA property line. The other three sides are bounded by Forest Park Ave, Sarah Ave, and Duncan Ave
Looking West from the IKEA property line. The other three sides are bounded by Forest Park Ave, Sarah Ave, and Duncan Ave. The former Ford plant in the background is now lofts
Looking South across Forest Park. IKEA is to the left, just out of view. The development parcel straight ahead will ideally be of similar massing as the lofts on the right, with storefronts at sidewalk level.
Looking South across Forest Park. IKEA is to the left, just out of view. The development parcel straight ahead will ideally be of similar massing as the lofts on the right, with storefronts at sidewalk level.
Looking East on Duncan Ave, from Sarah Ave. The CORTEX master plan wants Duncan to be a pedestrian-friendly spine through the district. The form of new building(s) on the parcel on the left will matter greatly.
Looking East on Duncan Ave, from Sarah Ave. The CORTEX master plan wants Duncan to be a pedestrian-friendly spine through the district. The form of new building(s) on the parcel on the left will matter greatly.

This site could be developed similar to new apartments at Forest Park & Vandeventer — a parking garage concealed on all sides by habitable buildings. The difference here is it should have storefront spaces on the ground floor. A boutique hotel, like one of these chains, should occupy part of the upper floors.

Hopefully IKEA St. Louis will be the exception, not the rule.

— Steve Patterson

 

Historic Buildings West of Saint Louis University Renovated Into Lofts

For many years, two buildings on Laclede Ave., faced uncertain futures.  Both personal favorites, their futures as residential buildings are now secure. They’re located at 3900 & 3965 Laclede.

Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block
Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block

The S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is located at 3965 Laclede Avenue in St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri. The brick, three-story office, lab and factory building was constructed in 1946 from a Modern Movement design by St. Louis architect Bert Luer. The buff-colored, asymmetrical primary (south) elevation features bands of hopper windows that wrap around the southwest corner, emphasizing horizontality while an elaborated, slightly projecting entrance bay on the southeast corner is a strong vertical element. The recessed entrance consists of double wood and glass doors below a grooved, streamlined overhang. Above the entrance, a shaft is embellished by a two-story glass block window with sidelights and three small terra cotta panels accent the parapet. Many of the building’s windows are tinted blue. The side and rear elevations are functional in design, feature red brick instead of buff brick, and utilize a concrete structural system with metal industrial hopper windows and overhead vehicle doors. The interior has an open plan with concrete, mushroom- shaped supports, concrete floors and ceilings, and glazed brick walls. The third level retains the original laboratory sinks and counters. Currently used as storage for automotive parts, the S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is in excellent condition. Relatively unchanged since its construction, the building easily retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association from its period of significance. (2010 National Register nomination)

The facade facing Vandeventer Ave
The facade facing Vandeventer Ave

From February 2014:

Capstone Development has the building under contract and is planning an $8 million restoration and rehab.

Bill Luchini, Capstone’s president, said today he plans to renovate the 11,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and build 17 loft-style apartments on the second floor. Construction will take about a year and begin after he completes the building’s purchase in about 60 days. (Post-Dispatch)

Some background:

The Gerhart Block, located at 3900-3908 Laclede Avenue/1-17 Vandeventer in St.Louis. Missouri, is locally significant under National Register Criterion C in the area of Architecture. The period of significance is 1896. the date of construction. Local architect August Beinke who was known for designing a number ofprominent buildings and fine houses, earned the commission from the Gerhart Realty Company to design this substantial corner retail and residentialbuilding.ThepicturesqueVandeventerfacadeisenlivenedbyaseriesofstorefront display windows, oval-paned entrances, and round arched openings. A pyramidal roofanchoring the corner, a turret on the south end. as well as stepped gables and hipped roofs over projecting bays animate the roofline. This application of the French Renaissance or “Chateauesque” style to a commercial block is skillfully handled, resulting in one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhood commercial buildings. Exterior integrity is extremely good. (2002 National Register nomination)

Vandeventer & Laclede
Vandeventer & Laclede

I’ve never been in the first building, but the second housed various gay bars for years so I’ve been in it many times over the lsat 25 years. I can’t wait to see both inside, the Gerhart work is finishing up now.

Official information:

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Accessing The New IKEA St. Louis by Foot, Bike, Wheelchair, or Car

Last week I looked at Duncan Ave and how it ends at IKEA, from a visit on the 11th. Today we’ll look at the access points to IKEA from Duncan Ave., Forest Park Ave., and Vandeventer Ave., from a visit on the 23rd.

Ended last week's post on Duncan Ave. looking back West from the IKEA property line
Ended last week’s post on Duncan Ave. looking back West from the IKEA property line

I’d arrived at this point by coming East on Duncan. Today let’s travel the way many pedestrians will, from Sarah & Forest Park.  I got off the #10 MetroBus on Lindell at Sarah, then headed South., about a third of a mile

Looking South across Forest Park. The new crossing pedestrian refuge is just getting finished. IKEA is to the left, just out of view
Looking South across Forest Park. The new crossing pedestrian refuge is just getting finished. IKEA is to the left, just out of view
Looking back North after crossing, Hopefully the crosswalk striping will be done soon. Note that it's a straight shot from side to center to opposite side.
Looking back North after crossing, Hopefully the crosswalk striping will be done soon. Note that it’s a straight shot from side to center to opposite side.
The crosswalk at the East end of Duncan Ave wasn't painted when I visited on the 11th, but it had a basic upon return. This is within the public-right-of-way. 
The crosswalk & stop line at the East end of Duncan Ave weren’t painted when I visited on the 11th, but it had a basic upon return. This is within the public-right-of-way.
Now we start into the West entry to IKEA's site. Once the new MetroLink light rail station opens this may see a lot of foot traffic. IKEA uses the more visible 'continental' crosswalk on site. This auto drive leads out to Forest Park Ave.
Now we start into the West entry to IKEA’s site. Once the new MetroLink light rail station opens this may see a lot of foot traffic. IKEA uses the more visible ‘continental’ crosswalk on site. This auto drive leads out to Forest Park Ave.
Looking East toward the store, a construction truck is blocking the view & crosswalk, but they were trying to finish up.
Looking East toward the store, a construction truck is blocking the view & crosswalk, but they were trying to finish up.
On the 11th I was horrified to see four of these awful bike racks placed too close together. Upon inquiry I was told they were temporary, the permanent racks to be installed soon.
On the 11th I was horrified to see four of these awful bike racks placed too close together. Upon inquiry I was told they were temporary, the permanent racks to be installed soon.
Less than 2 weeks later excellent inverted-U racks had arrived & were installed. The employees using the racks need to be shown how to use them so their bikes are supported.
Less than 2 weeks later excellent inverted-U racks had arrived & were installed. The employees using the racks need to be shown how to use them so their bikes are supported.

Next let’s assume that after crossing Forest Park Ave I’d headed East to enter IKEA.  These photos are all from my visit on the 11th.

At the edge of the property is the only auto entrance on Forest Park
At the edge of the property is the only auto entrance on Forest Park
We continue East, after crossing this major in/out vehicular drive
We continue East, after crossing this major in/out vehicular drive
After crossing the drive we can clearly see IKEA beyond the storm water runoff collector
After crossing the drive we can clearly see IKEA beyond the storm water runoff collector
The first of two pedestrian routes from the Forest Park public sidewalk to the IKEA. Let's continue East toward Vandeventer Ave and enter on the other accessible route
The first of two pedestrian routes from the Forest Park public sidewalk to the IKEA. Let’s continue East toward Vandeventer Ave and enter on the other accessible route
Looking back we see the walkway crosses over the drainage area.
Looking back we see the walkway crosses over the drainage area.
At the other pedestrian entry we can look bak West toward Sarah. The parking lane along Forest Park remains, it would be nice if the city striped it with a solid white line to separate it from the outside drive lane.
At the other pedestrian entry we can look bak West toward Sarah. The parking lane along Forest Park remains, it would be nice if the city striped it with a solid white line to separate it from the outside drive lane.
Looking South at the IKEA entry
Looking South at the IKEA entry
From the walkway looking back North toward Forest Park Ave
From the walkway looking back North toward Forest Park Ave
Almost to the entrance
Almost to the entrance, disabled parking is on both sides of this walkway and under the building
In front of the entry looking North. Pedestrians have two ADA-compliant options for getting through the front parking lot. Every big box store needs to do this!
In front of the entry looking North. Pedestrians have two ADA-compliant options for getting through the front parking lot. Every big box store needs to do this!
From the 3rd floor restaurant looking North we can see the path we just used to get inside from the public sidewalk.
From the 3rd floor restaurant looking North we can see the path we just used to get inside from the public sidewalk.

Now let’s go out to the intersection of Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave, the city has been busy trying to make it better for pedestrians.

Like we saw at Sarah, crosswalks aren't yet marked.
Like we saw at Sarah, crosswalks aren’t yet marked, so vehicles stop where they block the crossing point.
Looking North after crossing Vandeventer. Unlike at Sarah, the route here isn't a straight shot
Looking North after crossing Vandeventer. Unlike at Sarah, the route here isn’t a straight shot. 
From the pedestrian refuge in the median I see the curb ramp on the other side aren't finished. At this point I notice the pedestrian signals speaking for the visually impaired say "Forest Park Parkway" instead of "forest Park Avenue" The visual signs on the street lights are correct though
From the pedestrian refuge in the median I see the curb ramp on the other side aren’t finished. At this point I notice the pedestrian signals speaking for the visually impaired say “Forest Park Parkway” instead of “forest Park Avenue” The visual signs on the street lights are correct though
Got a break so I can cross
Got a break so I can cross..hopefully
Looking back South we see this side has a zig zag pattern too. This will become more apparent once the crosswalk stripes are done.
Looking back South we see this side has a zig zag pattern too. This will become more apparent once the crosswalk stripes are done.

And last let’s look at access points from Vandeventer Ave. With Saint Louis University nearby and a retail development coming across the street pedestrian volume in this area will rise sharply. These photos were taken on the 11th, 23rd, and 26th.

A new signalized intersection on Vandeventer Ave for IKEA Way, which is located about where the non-signalized Duncan Ave was. A new crosswalk was added to the South side of the intersection. Eventually the site to the East will be a retail development.
A new signalized intersection on Vandeventer Ave for IKEA Way, which is located about where the non-signalized Duncan Ave was. A new crosswalk was added to the South side of the intersection. Eventually the site to the East will be a retail development.  Sept 23rd
Looking North we can see the primary vehicular entry from Vandeventer, IKEA Way. Sept 11th
Looking North we can see the primary vehicular entry from Vandeventer, IKEA Way. Sept 11th
Turning again we see a pedestrian entrance up the hill. This is an ADA ramp, due to the grade it has periodic flat rest points, the side handrails weren't yet installed on the 11th
Turning again we see a pedestrian entrance up the hill. This is an ADA ramp, due to the grade it has periodic flat rest points, the side handrails weren’t yet installed on the 11th
At the top we see a clear path the entry, only having to cross traffic at one point. Ahead is the exit from the parking level below the building.
At the top we see a clear path the entry, only having to cross traffic at one point. Ahead is the exit from the parking level below the building.
This East view from the 3rd floor restaurant gives you an overview. Sept 23rd
This East view from the 3rd floor restaurant gives you an overview. Sept 23rd. The parking at the bottom is the “family parking” area

There’s a second entrance off Vandeventer for vehicles, and some pedestrians.

For those coming from the South, such as The Grove, this is the view along Vandeventer before reaching the pedestrian entry & IKEA Way
For those coming from the South, such as The Grove, this is the view along Vandeventer before reaching the pedestrian entry & IKEA Way
But navigating this would be a challenge
But navigating this would be a challenge
But they've got a sidewalk for pedestrians and a drive for motorists.
But they’ve got a sidewalk for pedestrians and a drive for motorists.
From the top we turn to the North and we can see the pedestrian route is clearly marked. Onward...
From the top we turn to the North and we can see the pedestrian route is clearly marked. Onward…
But we soon run into a major problem. If you can't see it that's part of the problem.
But we soon run into a major problem. If you can’t see it that’s part of the problem.
Here's a side view so help you see the uncovered drainage channel breaking up what appears to be a pedestrian route.
Here’s a side view so help you see the uncovered drainage channel breaking up what appears to be a pedestrian route.
The opposite view. which I encountered on the 11th when I almost didn't see it ahead
The opposite view. which I encountered on the 11th when I almost didn’t see it ahead
Another side view, this taken on the 11th
Another side view, this taken on the 11th
And looking out toward Vandeventer
And looking out toward Vandeventer

Obviously someone screwed up! This is a pity, they were doing so well too. Yes, they have other entries which are ADA-compliant, but this is just stupid — compliance would’ve been so easy had they provided a way to set in a steel plate/grate to cross over the drainage.  Someone is going to get hurt here.  Despite this mistake, IKEA did more than what is required by the ADA and St. Louis. Pedestrian access turned out better than I’d expected.

Other retailers & developers — please take note they have provided pedestrian access from all three public streets adjacent to their property!

As previously mentioned, the 2-story IKES is elevated over a level of parking
As previously mentioned, the 2-story IKES is elevated over a level of parking

Tomorrow I’ll take you inside the IKEA store, with photos I took last week following the media lunch & during Saturday afternoon’s family & friend’s day.

— Steve Patterson

 

Duncan Ave From CORTEX Commons To IKEA, Now Less Hostile

Last week I showed you the CORTEX Commons in my post CORTEX Commons Attractive, Has Accessibility Issues. That green space, and my post, ended at Duncan Ave. Today I’ll show you changes to Duncan Ave as we head East toward the new IKEA which opens next week. In December 2013 I posted: Cortex District Needs A Pedestrian Circulation Plan Before IKEA Is Built.  Below are two images from that 2013 post, along with the original captions:

Current site plan doesn't show pedestrian access from the south side of Duncan Ave., intersection at Sarah needs to be addressed to connect IKEA to MetroLink.
Current site plan doesn’t show pedestrian access from the south side of Duncan Ave., intersection at Sarah needs to be addressed to connect IKEA to MetroLink.
Looking east from in front of the grain silo toward the future IKEA. A sidewalk exists currently.
Looking east from in front of the grain silo toward the future IKEA. A sidewalk exists currently.

In 2013 I was focused on the horrible intersection of Duncan & Sarah and getting into the IKEA site. The odd configuration made it horrible for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

May 2012 -- looking East across Sarah from the South side of Duncan.
May 2012 — looking East across Sarah from the South side of Duncan.

Thankfully, this has been addressed, as you’ll see later.

I’ve posted about Duncan before, two times West of Boyle. In May 2013: Duncan Sidewalk Fixed, Crosswalk at Newstead Still A Problem and July 2012: Duncan Ave Sidewalk A Challenge Because Of Solae’s 2008 Construction. After the 2012 post the sidewalk got fixed, but I don’t think Duncan & Newstead has been corrected. In recent months there was utility work  going on here, I need to return to see if accessibility has been addressed.

Today let’s start at Boyle and the CORTEX Commons — and head East to IKEA.

Looking East across Boyle on the North side of Duncan in April 2015
Looking East across Boyle on the North side of Duncan in April 2015
Trees planted in the parking lane on the South side of Duncan in front of the @4240 building, also April 2015
Trees planted in the parking lane on the South side of Duncan in front of the @4240 building, also April 2015
This similar view from Sept 11th shows the plants have matured, the parking paving is permeable.
This similar view from Sept 11th shows the plants have matured, the parking paving is permeable. If you look closely you can see the side of IKEA’s big blue box at the end of the sidewalk.
A little further East. In St. Louis this is a very generous sidewalk, in Chicago it would be on the smaller side. Still, I like that it is so open.
A little further East. In St. Louis this is a very generous sidewalk, in Chicago it would be on the smaller side. Still, I like that it is so open.
Back on the North side we can see how the trees break up the line of parked cars.
Back on the North side we can see how the trees break up the line of parked cars.
Looking back West toward Boyle, the North side didn't get the same treatment with street trees.
Looking back West toward Boyle, the North side didn’t get the same treatment with street trees.
During my visit on the 11th work was still ongoing on the South side of Duncan just before Sarah
During my visit on the 11th work was still ongoing on the South side of Duncan just before Sarah
Part of the work is on the adjacent site where this massive US Metals building used to be.
Part of the work is on the adjacent site where this massive US Metals building used to be. View from Sarah, May 2012
The former office on Sarah was also razed, which is a shame. May 2012.
The former office on Sarah was also razed, which is a shame. May 2012.
Ok, so we're back on Duncan facing East. Because the sidewalk was out on the South we're on the North.
Ok, so we’re back on Duncan facing East. Because the sidewalk was out on the South we’re on the North.
As we approach Sarah we can see it looks different than before
As we approach Sarah we can see it looks different than before
Before we look at Sarah, a look back West on Duncan
Before we look at Sarah, a look back West on Duncan
Now looking East across Sarah
Now looking East across Sarah
Here's the May 2012 photo from before so you can compare them, The tall wall is gone and the traffic flow shifted.
Here’s the May 2012 photo from before so you can compare them, The tall wall is gone and the traffic flow shifted.
Turning South we can now see how Sarah curves
Turning South we can now see how Sarah curves
This view looking North from the East side of Sarah shows how Sarah now curves to the right for a conventional intersection at Duncan
This view looking North from the East side of Sarah shows how Sarah now curves to the right for a conventional intersection at Duncan
Looking East after crossing Sarah
Looking East after crossing Sarah
Getting closer
Getting closer
The sidewalk on the South side of Duncan ends, but a crosswalk point to the North is provided
The sidewalk on the South side of Duncan ends, but a crosswalk point to the North is provided
Looking North, the crosswalk wasn't marked on my visit but paint crews were working on site. This would've been an excellent spot for a raised crosswalk.
Looking North, the crosswalk wasn’t marked on my visit but paint crews were working on site. This would’ve been an excellent spot for a raised crosswalk.
Looking back West.
Looking back West.

Monday next week I’ll take a closer look at the various pedestrian access points to IKEA St. Louis, as well as a peak inside!

Duncan Ave is bookended by BJC hospital just West of Taylor, and IKEA just East of Sarah — about a mile total in length — the pedestrian experience is highly inconsistent and doesn’t begin to approach friendly. Yet, this is the mile stretch the CORTEX Master Plan says should be pedestrian-friendly, the primary East-West means for pedestrian circulation.  At best it’s less hostile in a few spots than it was a few years ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

CORTEX Commons Attractive, Has Accessibility Issues

The masterplan for St. Louis’ technology district, called CORTEX, included a significant green space. Originally formed in 2002, the green space is just now being completed. Here is how they describe the CORTEX campus:

The intent of the CORTEX Master Plan is to create well-designed public open spaces that will contribute significantly to the quality of life within the district, community and city. The Master Plan calls for the creation of the CORTEX Commons, a public park that will be accessible to all who work and live in the district and surrounding neighborhoods.

  • The Commons: right in front of the @4240 entrance you’ll find a beautiful green space with areas for relaxing, meeting, or just enjoying the fresh air.
  • Restaurants/Cafes: surrounding the @4240 building will be cafes, restaurants and other places to grab lunch, dinner, or have cocktails after work.
  • Living Space: within walking distance of @4240 are lofts, apartments and other living spaces that allow for a commute that is literally minutes away.
  • Shops: retail space will be part of the new Phase II expansion, providing convenient shopping and unique boutiques all within a short stroll of the office and laboratory space.
  • Transportation: getting to and from work will be simplified for those driving as well as those wishing to use public transportation. A new highway interchange at the major east-west Interstate 64 provides convenient access for drivers, plus a new MetroLink light rail station will be within a block of the @4240 building.
Concept drawing of the CORTEX Commons
Concept drawing of the CORTEX Commons

Let’s take a look, starting at the South end at S. Boyle Ave. & Clayton Ave., then moving North to Duncan Ave:

The visitor sees lush landscaping, at right is the new BJC @ The Commons building
The visitor sees lush landscaping, at right is the new BJC @ The Commons building
Turning to the left we see the sidewalk follows the curve of Boyle. The orange circle is the logo for the CORTEX Commons. In a couple of places the sidewalk make a sharp shift.
Turning to the left we see the sidewalk follows the curve of Boyle. The orange circle is the logo for the CORTEX Commons. In a couple of places the sidewalk make a sharp shift.
An open area  hardscape area to the West of the building
An open area hardscape area to the West of the building
Looking back toward Clayton we can see the sign marking the rain garden and the patio beyond. I couldn't get close enough to the sigh to read the body text. Numerous such signs throughout are also too far away to be read.
Looking back toward Clayton we can see the sign marking the rain garden and the patio beyond. I couldn’t get close enough to the sigh to read the body text. Numerous such signs throughout are also too far away to be read.
Looking North from the patio, the movable tables & chairs are better than fixed furnishings -- allows people to rearrange.
Looking North from the patio, the movable tables & chairs are better than fixed furnishings — allows people to rearrange.
Back out by the hardscape circle, looking North
Back out by the hardscape circle, looking North
Heading North on the Boyle sidewalk these plants in the rain garden are already reducing the sidewalk width. This is the only plant choice I didn't like.
Heading North on the Boyle sidewalk these plants in the rain garden are already reducing the sidewalk width. This is the only plant choice I didn’t like.
We can now see the light rail line, known as MetroLink, divides the space. Will discuss the renovated building in the background later in this post.
We can now see the light rail line, known as MetroLink, divides the space. Will discuss the renovated building in the background later in this post.
The sidewalk narrows at the track crossing, this is the low point in the experience.
The sidewalk narrows at the track crossing, this is the low point in the experience.
With the train gone we can cross.
With the train gone we can cross.
Looking back South after having crossed the two MetroLink tracks and a third extra track (nearest)
Looking back South after having crossed the two MetroLink tracks and a third extra track (nearest)
Looking back North we are again faced with the sidewalk making a hard shift to the right. The parked cars on Boyle don't have a bulb out to enclose the parking lane.
Looking back North we are again faced with the sidewalk making a hard shift to the right. The parked cars on Boyle don’t have a bulb out to enclose the parking lane.
Turning toward the Southeast we can see an unfinished spot, this is likely to connect to the new light rail station to be built. Hopefully the track crossing will be improved at that time.
Turning toward the Southeast we can see an unfinished spot, this is likely to connect to the new light rail station to be built. Hopefully the track crossing will be improved at that time.
Approaching the @4240 building
Approaching the @4240 building
Looking North. DuPont, formerly Solae, is across Boyle on the left.
Looking North. DuPont, formerly Solae, is across Boyle on the left.
Turning Eastward we see the centerpiece shade canopy.
Turning Eastward we see the centerpiece shade canopy.
Looking North at the canopy, the same movable tables & chairs are used.
Looking North at the canopy, the same movable tables & chairs are used.
Back at the sidewalk parallel with Boyle we see the first of numerous connections to draw you into the space from the edge.
Back at the sidewalk parallel with Boyle we see the first of numerous connections to draw you into the space from the edge.
The Northernmost of the connections leads right to the @4240 building entrance, more on that in a bit.
The Northernmost of the connections leads right to the @4240 building entrance, more on that in a bit.
Looking back South along the Boyle sidewalk
Looking back South along the Boyle sidewalk
Looking diagonally into the CORTEX Commons
Looking diagonally into the CORTEX Commons
Looking East along Duncan Ave, the main East-West spine in the district.
Looking East along Duncan Ave, the main East-West spine in the district.
Looking South from a position closer to the @4240 building we see another patio with the same movable furnishings. Most of this area is a metal grate over a rain garden.
Looking South from a position closer to the @4240 building we see another patio with the same movable furnishings. Most of this area is a metal grate over a rain garden.
Looking back West toward Boyle, with DuPont/Solae in the background
Looking back West toward Boyle, with DuPont/Solae in the background
Back in the Commons we can approach the @4240 building after crossing the rain garden on the metal grate pedestrian bridge -- love this!
Back in the Commons we can approach the @4240 building after crossing the rain garden on the metal grate pedestrian bridge — love this!
Another pf the informational signs that can't be read from the paved areas
Another pf the informational signs that can’t be read from the paved areas
Looking out to Boyle & Duncan we can see the South facade of the first CORTEX building. It was built without an ADA-complianfr accessible route  and hasn't yet been corrected
Looking out to Boyle & Duncan we can see the South facade of the first CORTEX building. It was built without an ADA-complianfr accessible route and hasn’t yet been corrected
The paving clearly directs the user to the entry but the the curb on this side of the drive prevents me from continuing
The paving clearly directs the user to the entry but the the curb on this side of the drive prevents me from continuing
The view out from the entry shows the accessible entry on the near side and the non-accessible curb on the far side. D'oh!
The view out from the entry shows the accessible entry on the near side and the non-accessible curb on the far side. D’oh!
The next area, connecting to accessible parking, has the same problem
The next area, connecting to accessible parking, has the same problem
And the next one, a good place for a raised crosswalk
And the next one, a good place for a raised crosswalk
And again. Clearly, someone goofed! The disabled shouldn't have to go all the way to the Duncan public sidewalk
And again. Clearly, someone goofed! The disabled shouldn’t have to go all the way to the Duncan public sidewalk
To finish on a positive, here's a detail I liked. Next to fixed benches are power outlets.
To finish on a positive, here’s a detail I liked. Next to fixed benches are power outlets.
Just lift the cover and plug in your phone, tablet, laptop, or wheelchair.
Just lift the cover and plug in your phone, tablet, laptop, or wheelchair.

I hope get CORTEX to correct the accessibility issues to the @4240 building. Read more about the building and how it is being used here.

— Steve Patterson

 

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