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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

 

Majority of Readers Excited About IKEA St. Louis Opening Soon

In the recent Sunday Poll a solid majority (68.63%) indicated — no surprise — positive feelings about IKEA opening soon. Those who were neutral outweighed the negative, 19.61% vs 11.76%.

I don't like that it's set back from Forest Park Blvd, but glad they'll have two wide walkways from the public sidewalk through the parking lot to reach the entry.
I don’t like that it’s set back from Forest Park Blvd, but glad they’ll have two wide walkways from the public sidewalk through the parking lot to reach the entry.

I’ve shopped at 7 different IKEA stores over the last 25 years, always while traveling. This will be a new experience being able to go anytime I want. As rumors of the store were circling a few years ago I said, as a big box, it belonged in suburbia. I still feel that way. It lowers the bar for the redevelopment of the area. I can only hope that so many others want to locate in close proximity that everything about the IKEA is more urban than the IKEA itself.

Here are the results:

Q: How do you feel about IKEA St. Louis opening in 45 days:

  1. Excited 18 [35.29%]
  2. TIE 10 19.61%
    1. Somewhat excited
    2. Meh (Neutral)
  3. Very excited 7 [13.73%]
  4. TIE 3 [5.88%]
    1. Disinterested
    2. Very disinterested
  5. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Somewhat disinterested
    2. Unsure/No Answer

Follow the various pre-Grand Opening events here.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Shriner’s Hospital Returns To St. Louis City After 52 Years In Suburban Frontenac

Sunday afternoon the new Shriner’s Hospital for Children will be dedicated.  The new facility will open for patients on June 1st, a return to the City of St. Louis after 52 years in the affluent suburb of Frontenac.

In 1924 the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children opened on the NE corner of Euclid & Clayton
In 1924 the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children opened on the NE corner of Euclid & Clayton
In 1962 the Shriner's built a larger hospital on many acres in Frontenac
In 1963 the Shriner’s built a larger hospital on many acres in Frontenac

Changes in care meant the 1960s facility was too large:

The hospital is leaving a 182,000-square-foot facility in Frontenac for a 90,000-square-foot facility in St. Louis. The new hospital, at 4400 Clayton Avenue, will continue to use 12 inpatient beds despite its license for 80. (Post-Dispatch)

Many of us have been watching the new building take shape for a while now, much more visible than the facility they’re leaving.

The new hospital as seen from across I-64 last October
The new hospital as seen from across I-64 last October
The Clayton Rd entry in December
The Clayton Rd entry in December, the ADA accessible route is on the right

About Sunday’s dedication:

New hospital dedication ceremony May 17
Dedication of the new replacement hospital for Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, will take place from 1 – 4 p.m., Sunday, May 17. 

Imperial Potentate Dale Stauss and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Doug Maxwell will officially open the building for visitors that day. Following a special ceremony featuring the local and national leadership of Shriners Hospitals for Children – as well as a few surprises from the patients – the hospital will be open for tours. Tours of the hospital will include a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see in some areas of the hospital that will be restricted to patients, families and employees only, such as the operating rooms, patient rooms and patient-family quarters.

Sunday’s dedication is open to the public. Yesterday I got a tour of the facility, here are most of the photos I took:

Approaching on Clayton Ave, from Euclid
Approaching on Clayton Ave, from Euclid
At the entrance
At the entrance
The required ADA accessible route
The required ADA accessible route
Crosswalk at drive
Crosswalk at drive
At the main entry
At the main entry
Just inside the front doors
Just inside the front doors
Looking to the left of the reception desk
Looking to the left of the reception desk
Looking out toward Clayton Ave from the lobby cafe
Looking out toward Clayton Ave from the lobby cafe
In the cafe area changing images are projected onto a wall
In the cafe area changing images are projected onto a wall
One of the exam rooms
One of the exam rooms
A side entry on the East side allows patients to arrive/leave in privacy
A side entry on the East side allows patients to arrive/leave in privacy
There are six double rooms . Each patient has a tablet for music, games, etc. Patients can also adjust a color-hanging LED light over their bed!
There are six double rooms . Each patient has a tablet for music, games, etc. Patients can also adjust a color-hanging LED light over their bed!
The nurses station in the recovery area
The nurses station in the recovery area
The main operating room
The main operating room
On the 2nd floor is the board room, which will also be used for staff meetings
On the 2nd floor is the board room, which will also be used for staff meetings
A 2nd floor lounge
A 2nd floor lounge
A large research lab
A large research lab
Recreational therapy
Recreational therapy
One of the hotel-like rooms for family staying overnight
One of the hotel-like rooms for family staying overnight
A family lounge on the 3rd floor with windows facing East toward downtown
A family lounge on the 3rd floor with windows facing East toward downtown
The view looking East
The view looking East

This new hospital is good news for the City of St. Louis, even better news for the young patients & their families who’ll receive care here in the decades to come. I know the hospital where I had surgery at age 4 looked nothing like this, it was a scary institutional place. Thankfully all new hospitals have gotten more welcoming.

The last all-new hospital in the 22-hospital Shriner system was in 1997 — so this is a big deal. Shriner’s St. Louis has always had a connection to Washington University, this new location will strengthen that relationship.  Again, Sunday’s dedication is open to the public.

Welcome back Shriners!

— Steve Patterson

 

1893 House on Delmar Blvd Getting Rehabbed

I like to end each week with a positive post and nothing is more positive than a favorite building, long written off, getting rehabbed. A large house on Delmar, with unique dormers, has been in disrepair for years.  A few months ago a friend posted on Facebook that work was starting on the building. Earlier this month I took the #97 MetroBus to photograph the progress.

Work was still ongoing on my December 12th visit.
Work was still ongoing on my December 12th visit.
Diagonally across Delmar & Pendleton
Diagonally across Delmar & Pendleton, click image for map
This March 2014 photo from GEO St. Louis shows the old fire escape from when the house was divided into multiple units.
This March 2014 photo from GEO St. Louis shows the old fire escape from when the house was divided into multiple units.

City records indicate 4270 Delmar Blvd was built in 1893 and contains 5,687 sq ft. This property is just a couple of blocks West of another favorite building, that also recently got rehabbed, now known as Freedom Place. Fingers crossed someone will take on the building at the East end of Fountain Park.

— Steve Patterson

 

Central West End (CWE) MetroLink Station Poorly Connected To Taylor Ave

Our busiest MetroLink light rail station is the Central West End (CWE) station, but it’s also one of the worst when it comes to connecting to a public street. If you head up the stairs/elevator at the west end of the platform you’ll get to a plaza where Euclid Ave used to be, now part of the Washington University Medical School/BJC campus that’s decimated the street grid. Head east and the grid remains mostly intact, but getting to it isn’t easy.

Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor

The connection is narrow & winding, designed to get MetroBus rides to/from light rail. It isn’t designed for pedestrians to reach Taylor Ave. Why might someone want to go to Taylor Ave?  For one, various hospital related buildings are within a few blocks. The CWE is to the north, but one can use the former Euclid Ave to connect with Euclid Ave. To the south, however, is the Forest Park Southeast (FPSE neighborhood) and The Grove, accessed via Taylor Ave.

Expensive investments in mass transit infrastructure, such as light rail, needs to be designed to maximize use and thus, return on investment. If you didn’t see the train occasionally or the crossing gates, you’d never know a station as been just off Taylor Ave for more than two decades.

— Steve Patterson

 

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