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Projected 3D light as an attraction

January 16, 2010 Downtown, Events/Meetings 3 Comments

Light can be an effective tool to draw a crowd.  Projection of 3D light would amaze a huge crowd.  Just such an idea from Vilnius, Lithuania (aerial map), would be perfect in St. Louis:


Direct link to video on YouTube

We have many places downtown that would make ideal subjects for such a light show.

Old Court House:

Old Post Office:

Civil Courts:

Left: Civil Courts
Left: Civil Courts

Soldiers Memorial:

Hat tip to Michelle Swatek, Executive Director of AIA St. Louis, for bring this concept to my attention.

– Steve Patterson


Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has been open for several years now but I never visited until last week.  I went to see the “Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark” exhibit which runs through June 30, 2010.  The exhibit was more interesting than I first thought it would be – a pleasant surprise.  The building is much bigger and more interesting than I expected based on the stark street elevation.

Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

The Pulitzer and the Contemporary next door to the West break all my normal conventions about good urban buildings.  Both present large blank walls to the pedestrian on the sidewalk.  The Pulitzer is set back from the sidewalk and the front door is hidden from street view.  But both structures work as quasi-civic buildings which often break traditional sidewalk relationships.  Blocks and blocks of the beautiful concrete walls would get old quickly but in small doses they make a nice contrast to the older buildings in midtown.

The Pulitzer is open Wednesdays noon to 5pm and Saturdays 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

– Steve Patterson


Closing out 2009

December 31, 2009 Events/Meetings 5 Comments

A year ago I said good riddance to 2008 – a horrible year for me personally. I ended the post with this:

Going into 2009 I’m optimistic about my own future and that of our city, state, country and world.  I’m in a better mindset than I was a year ago.

2009 was a rough year for many, worse than I would have projected a year ago.  Still, I remain optimistic about the future and look forward to 2010.

Throughout 2009 I continued to my recovery from my February 2008 stroke.  In June I completed the coursework for my Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development (UPRED) degree at Saint Louis University.  I participated in the December graduation ceremony but I’m still wrapping up my capstone (thesis) on pedestrian malls. It will be complete within a month.  In October I decided to leave the Real Estate profession as I won’t have time for that as I build a client base for my urban planning services.   Big change.

I’m encouraged by the reluctance of the public to go crazy with poor fuel economy vehicles despite low gas prices.  The gas price spikes of 2008 appear to have changed the attitudes of many.  More automakers are planning fuel efficient internal combustion vehicles and mainstream plug-in hybrids will arrive on the market late in 2010. “Green” is being embraced by more and more people.

I see more considering urban living (vs. suburban).  The decline of inner cities didn’t happen overnight.  Making urban living the norm for most Americans will take just as long, perhaps longer.  Generations younger than mine (I’m 42) will lead the masses back to the older core of regions. But generations older than me are also realizing once their kids are gone they are free to leave suburbia behind and enjoy the urban lifestyle they gave up decades earlier.   Those with kids in school may continue living in the suburbs but their expectations are different than their parents.  They want connectivity rather than isolation.  They want walkability rather than strictly driveability.  They may not know the words but they reject the strict separation of uses that has been the foundation of suburbia.

Diverse & walkable neighborhoods may not become the norm in my lifetime but I sense that with each passing year we will move in that direction.

Have a safe & happy New Years Eve!

– Steve Patterson


Sit anywhere on the bus

Fifty-four years ago today a 42 year old (my current age) woman refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.   Of course the woman was Rosa Parks:

Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, December 1, 1955, triggered a wave of protest December 5, 1955 that reverberated throughout the United States. Her quiet courageous act changed America, its view of black people and redirected the course of history.  (source: rosaparks.org)

I am so grateful to her for refusing to give up her seat simply based on her race. But it wasn’t so simple:

Montgomery’s segregation laws were complex: blacks were required to pay their fare to the driver, then get off and reboard through the back door. Sometimes the bus would drive off before the paid-up customers made it to the back entrance. If the white section was full and another white customer entered, blacks were required to give up their seats and move farther to the back; a black person was not even allowed to sit across the aisle from whites. These humiliations were compounded by the fact that two-thirds of the bus riders in Montgomery were black.

Parks was not the first to be detained for this offense. Eight months earlier, Claudette Colvin, 15, refused to give up her seat and was arrested. Black activists met with this girl to determine if she would make a good test case — as secretary of the local N.A.A.C.P., Parks attended the meeting — but it was decided that a more “upstanding” candidate was necessary to withstand the scrutiny of the courts and the press. And then in October, a young woman named Mary Louise Smith was arrested; N.A.A.C.P. leaders rejected her too as their vehicle, looking for someone more able to withstand media scrutiny. Smith paid the fine and was released. (Source: TIME)

We have come a long way but we still have so far to travel. We all owe Parks (and so many others) for chipping away at the walls of hate that were commonplace at that time.

– Steve Patterson


Diverse populations celebrate diverse holidays

Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is the holiday season in North America.  For most this time includes Christmas.  For the rest of us we often celebrate another holiday, such as Kwanzaa or Hanukkah.  We have a diverse population in St. Louis so I’m curious to see how diverse my readers are so the poll this week asks what holiday you celebrate in December.

I was going to randomize the answers but I decided to list Christmas twice so I needed to make sure everyone saw that before answering.  Twice? One is for the birth of Jesus and the other is because it is December 25th.  Get the difference?  I have never once celebrated the birth of Jesus but I have celebrated Christmas because it is December 25th. I’ve included an “other” option this week.

Personally speaking I know how awkward it is when you are wished a merry holiday you don’t celebrate. I’d like store clerks and others to say “Happy Holidays” than make presumptions about what, if any, holiday I might celebrate. Naturally “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is controversial:

The American Family Association is calling on consumers to boycott Gap Inc. and its brands, which include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, this holiday season. The Christian organization alleges that the retailer’s ads downplay the word “Christmas.”

The boycott, according to the AFA, is in response to Gap’s holiday advertising and in-store promotions over the years, which have stayed away from recognizing any specific religion. For instance, last year’s campaign was themed “Merry Gap-mas,” substituting the chain’s name for Christ’s. The AFA—which had boycotted other retailers like Sears and Target in the past for their holiday ads—is singling out Gap this year. The AFA is planning to release a “Naughty and Nice” list of retailers who address Christmas and those who don’t.  (Source: Brandweek)

Below is Gap’s 2009 holiday commercial the AFA doesn’t like:


I took the AFA poll:

Since Gap has now included the word “Christmas” in a television ad (in a dismissive manner), should AFA call off the boycott of their stores?

  • Yes. Any reference to Christmas is good enough to me. 5,267
  • No. Gap has taken a disrespectful attitude towards Christians with its ad. 47,935

The 2009 AFA “Naughty and Nice” list is here.  I personally celebrate retailers that don’t push one religion at the exclusion of others so I’ll use their list in the reverse of how they intended. You may agree or you may not.  Share your thoughts below and vote in the poll in the upper right corner.

Happy Holidays everyone!

– Steve Patterson