12 October 2010

Ethical Society gets Distinguished Building Award

The Saint Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently honored the Ethical Society by Harris Armstrong, FAIA with their "Distinguished Building Award". I had the honor of presenting the award along with showing some photographs of the building.

View from the southeast. The reflecting pools with spray fountains were designed as the heat sinks for the HVAC system as part of Armstrong's original design.
You can find out more about the building and the organization's esteemed history at their website: Ethical Society of Saint Louis. They are located at: 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117 (click here for location via Google Maps). I encourage you to visit the building personally as it is the only true way to appreciate its dynamic space, natural daylighting and reverent form.

Light streaming into the main entry hall shines through the abstract, yet sensual colors of the stained glass Armstrong selected for this south-facing space.
The organization is to be especially commended for the great attention to detail and maintaining the original architect's design in renovating and adding to the structure to meet current needs.
A cast-in-place concrete fireplace separates the two entry vestibules that penetrates the building's south facade.

I'm including recent images of the building as presented at the 2010 AIA St. Louis Design Awards and in a St. Louis Business Journal article discussing this honor.

A night view looking into the main entry hall from outside. The paired concrete columns that surround the space are here joined to form the back of the central fireplace and chimney.

The central windowless meeting room is lined with a screen of pecan wood panels. Cylindrical concrete columns define the perimeter and support the custom glulam curved beams which rise up to meet at the central skylight.

Armstrong worked with Ethical Society members to select the range of fabrics used in the auditorium seating.

The auditorium is contained within a square room with beams rising up to a square skylight which forms the central spire on the building's exterior. This high point of the roof gives the building its distinctive silhouette and gives the building visual prominence from Clayton Road where it lies below street level.
Looking directly up into the central light fixture gives the impression of a solar eclipse with light from the central skylight playing off the symmetrically splayed beams.

Photographs copyright © 1996-2010 Andrew Raimist.

02 October 2010

Eames in Saint Louis on display

Charles Eames studied architecture at Washington University in Saint Louis back in the 1920s, but was asked to leave due to his overly enthusiastic interest in modernism (i.e., Frank Lloyd Wright in those days). He had several architectural partnerships in the ensuing years, designed stage sets for the MUNY, painted murals, documented historic architecture for HABS (Historic American Building Survey) and designed several homes which still grace our city.

The most elaborate expression of his ideas on architecture, furniture, integrating art and design from this period was the monumental Meyer House in Huntleigh Village of 1936.

Facade, Meyer House, Huntleigh Village, Missouri (1936) by Eames & Walsh Architects. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
The Meyer House includes custom-designed furnishings, decorative glass, murals and other site specific artworks. By the time the house was receiving its finishes, Eames had begun a fellowship at the Cranbrook Academy with the resulting beneficial influence on its completion.

Cast decorative metal ornament on entry door, Meyer Residence. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
Another work from this era inspired by certain aspects of modern design was the design for the Dean House of 1935 in a Deco-inspired, Streamline Moderne work.

Facade, Dean House, Webster Groves, Missouri (1935). Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
This complex white-painted brick masonry home features a curious combination of details including corner windows at the second floor, brick quoins on the first floor and a stringcourse with dentils dividing the two levels. The entry door features a carved chevron pattern reminiscent of a door of the same time period by Eames' friend Harris Armstrong for the Cori Residence.

Entry door, Dean House. Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
A third home from this period was done for a collector of 18th century American furniture in a Williamsburg manner:

Facade detail, Dinsmoor House, Webster Groves, Missouri (1936). Photograph by Andrew Raimist.
My photographs of these three homes, including many more images with details, will be featured as part of the Award Benefit and Auction for the Museum of California Design being held on Sunday 3 October 2010 at the Entenza House (Case Study House #9 designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen).

Entenza House (Case Study House #9), Pacific Palisades, California (1949) designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. Photography courtesy of www.casestudynine.com.
If you're in the neighborhood and would like to see this historic mid-century modern home, click the link to purchase a ticket. I wish I could be there myself as the house has never been open to the public !

Anyone interested in purchasing a print of my photographs should feel free to contact me.