Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Architecture and Shape: Arches

St. Louis is filled with a variety of architectural styles and shapes. I never fail to be amazed by the many glimpses of beauty I am treated to throughout downtown alone on a regular basis.

Downtown, of course, is home to the granddaddy of all arches, the symbol that, to many people, the city is synonymous with: the Arch. Well, yes. There is that.
After all, 630 feet of gleaming stainless (in both height and width) is a little hard to miss. But long before THE Arch and even long before its designer, Eero Saarinen, were thought of, St. Louis was awash in arches.

Let me show you what I mean.

First stop: Eads Bridge. Predates the Arch by almost a century. Have to think Saarinen found some inspiration here ...

At the corner of Sixth of Washington, is 555 Washington. This is one of the oldest extant buildings downtown (c.1870-ish). And, it is also full of arches.

Likewise a block away at the Missouri Athletic Club where the marquee and first-floor windows make my point.From there, just look across the street to the Roberts Vista. (The J. Kennard Carpet Co. building.) There's more of those arches!
In fact, the arches cover this building from top to bottom. This building is an early illustration of how the detail of an arch can break up an otherwise towering building of squares and rectangles.

Go a few blocks back down Fourth Street, toward the heart of downtown, and head up Pine until you hit Broadway. There you will find the two-towered Marquette Building.

Built in 1913, it was already a half-century old when they started building the Arch! More proof that the shape has dominated St. Louis architecture for more than a century.

If you have a certain view like some people do (oh, like maybe ME!) you can see that it, too, is topped off with arches.

Go down any block in downtown, any of them.

I defy you to make it all the way down a single street without being able to spot at least one arch. And, I'd even be willing to bet that you could spot a whole lot more than just one.

Even though downtown's modern architecture bent has been more focused on triangles and cubes, I guarantee that you will still find arches neatly tucked away somewhere.

The ultra-modern 600 Washington, which takes up a good chunk of Sixth Street, and is a study in cubist construction can't help but get in on the act.

So the next time you're surrounded by skyscrapers, (especially if you're in St. Louis) look up and look around. See any arches?

I'll bet you do.


Karen Anne said...

What great buildings. I love that bridge.

NV said...

Thanks, Karen Anne! I think they are. ;-) And the Eads will always be special for a number of reasons.

Karen Anne said...

Speak to us...