Thursday, September 28, 2006

No Award This Year

Looks like I am among the crowd of losers for the RFT's best blog award. I'm shocked that I lost.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Modern On The Southside

There isn't a development in St. Louis that doesn't catch my attention, but a new project planned for South St. Louis has leapt out at me. It is to be known as Val Place and is located at Virginia, Alabama, and Delor in Dutchtown South. Millennium Restoration & Development is the developer. The site will contain twenty, three story townhouses starting at $180,000.

There is nothing special about what I just described, but some aldermen and developers need to pay attention to what will follow. First off, this is what we call an urban design. Notice no driveways in the front. The garages are in the rear off of an alley, and the front is oriented to the street and sidewalk. The site plan also calls for density. What a novel idea. Not everything has to be single family with large yards. The design is also rather modern for St. Louis infill. While I agree that many so called modern designs are really not that great, I really like this particular design. Looks like a good use of siding, stucco, glass, and probably concrete. Nice to see a design that doesn't try to hide vinyl with an awkward brick front. The balconies also add a nice touch, and the large one off the kitchens should make a nice area to sit and enjoy a nice evening talking to the neighbors.

Overall, Millennium has done a good job with an odd site.

Technology and Crime

*Class Post*

The question of whether technology is causing more crime or if it is just there because it is in our culture is an interesting one. Technology has certainly opened the opportunity for crimes such as hacking and stealing data, and has probably made stalking easier in some cases. It has also made plagiarism much easier. But overall, I don't think technology has lead to any increase in crime, or made crime easier. Technology is part of every day life, so criminals make use of it. Bragging about a murder in a blog is comparable to people making a video of a crime and sharing it or bragging to friends. As technology changes, peoples habits change and it becomes incorporated.

Technology doesn't cause crime, criminals are just stupid in their use of it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I know this was directed at Steve Patterson, but it's about time. From

Downtown Now

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
In certain quadrants of the blogosphere, this will be Big News: Downtown Now! has updated its website.

Downtown Now! Website

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another Gem Renovated

There is finally a solid redevelopment plan for the Old Missouri Pacific Building downtown, and it involves new construction. The existing building will be renovated with retail space, 51,000 sq. ft. of office space and 108 condos. A new tower built with a modern design will rise 15 floors on Tucker and contain retail space and condos. A 750 car parking garage will be built in between with a pool and other resident facilities on the top level. Two adjacent parks will also be renovated to the west and south. The Lawrence Group is handling the work.

This is one of the landmark buildings downtown, and I'm glad it will be put to such a good mixed use. The new tower should make a drastic difference along the barren blocks of Tucker, and it will hide the boring back side of the Missouri Pacific Buildings. This will make a barren spot downtown lively once again. The parks certainly need some sprucing up, although I agree with others that the park to the west is a little bit too focused on the Park Pacific. I personally would like to see a high-rise along Tucker on part of the current park land, but I can only ask for so much at once.

Overall, I give the development a preliminary grade of A.


*Class Post*

What do you call 1,075,000+ articles created completely by volunteer effort? That would obviously be the English version of Wikipedia. Many great things have come out of the Internet, but this has to be one of the best. Anyone can sign up to edit pages, making the possible topics infinitely greater than a yearly encyclopedia like the Encyclopedia Britannica. And the best part is that according to studies, Wikipedia is just as accurate as all the leading encyclopedias that don't allow the general public to write them. The information is endless, and everything is categorized and linked together with similar topics. Best of all, Wikipedia is completely free!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

*Class Post*

According to the article from the University of Dayton, 85% of college students equaling 3.9 million students have accounts on Facebook. The social networking site for students has spread from just a few schools to every college and thousands of high schools in just over a year. Students use it to tell others about themselves, keep track of friends, plan events, and post pictures from parties and other events in their daily life. Departments of Public Safety have sometimes made use of these pictures and other statements made on the site. Students have received various punishments because of something found on the site. Both of the Departments cited in the articles, Princeton's and Dayton's, deny any use of Facebook for more than just an aid for investigations. I am okay with some minor use of the site, but I am wary of any use from an Public Safety Officers, especially an officer that may like to browse the site looking for violations.

There are many reasons that Facebook should not be used. First, it is hard to tell where something is from a picture unless there is some type of landmark to give it away. Like was stated in the article, how can someone tell what is in a cup in a picture. If the supposed violation took place off campus, any DPS has no right to cite someone for an offense. Second, no matter what a school wants to say, anything that happens on Facebook should be private. The site is password protected, and it is not hosted on any university related servers. I would think that a warrant would be required to gather any evidence from Facebook, because it is not in the public domain. This brings up serious issues with invasion of privacy that need to be dealt with. The director of Police at Princeton says that he can legally back up his statement that Facebook is not private. Even if pulling evidence from Facebook is legal, it doesn't make it right.

No matter the legalities of using sites like Facebook, we should all be a little more careful.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New Ballpark

I spent three hours tonight milling around outside of the new Cardinal's ballpark. It was great to see all of the fans back for another baseball season, and there was a definite buzz in the air. This was my first chance to get up close to the park after several planned tours fell through this summer for one reason or another. In my opinion, the still under construction park turned out great. There is a connection with the street that old Busch came as far away as possible from having. I was on the sidewalk, but I felt like I was part of the action. For all of the complaining about the park that some other urbanists do, I think the architecture and design is good. Busch is built like a baseball park ought to be. The brick is a nice nod to Cupples Station, and the exposed steel gives a bit of a contemporary feel. The Eads bridge style pedestrian bridge makes for a beautiful termination of Spruce St. This doesn't even take into account Ballpark Village tying into the park. This will be a great transformation for the south end of downtown from a lifeless and unfriendly area to a great urban "village."

After I finish sorting through the 279 pics I took tonight, I will have many up for your viewing pleasure at

In Case You Cared

Here's how I voted in today's election in the city.

School Board:
Peter Down
Donna Jones

Prop R:

Prop EJ:

Prop G:
A reserved Yes

Seems to be pretty much how the other urban bloggers voted.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Walking In The City

I did an extensive walking tour of two parts of the city this afternoon. I am doing a Powerpoint presentation tomorrow for my Tech Apps class, and my topic that I am covering is all of the mid and high-rises proposed and under construction in the city. I wanted to include pictures of all the sites in the presentation, so this required that I get out and take all of them today. After my 11:00 class, I drove to the CWE to get started. I parked behind the Park East and started there. I circled around that site and headed over to the site of the Renaissance on Euclid, Lindell Condos, and then down to 4545 Lindell. After my stroll through the CWE, I headed downtown. I parked in my usual free spot in front of the Bowling Hall of Fame. I made a full circle around the stadium to get some more pics for I then headed over to the Old Post Office to the site of the Robert's Mayfair Tower and the possible site of a high-rise just up locust from there. I also wasted some battery life on the Garage Mahal. I walked for a little while on Washington, but forgot to get a pic for the site of the Gateway Condos. I negotiated the horrible set up of the elevated I-70 and went by the Switzer building and the site of Port St. Louis. I walked around the Pinnacle site and over to the Bottle District site. I then walked to the Convention Center Metro stop and rode metro over to the Stadium station. I covered everything in 2.5 hours, including spending a good chunk of that time on top of the Stadium East garage.

Today was sunny and warm, and the streets reflected the good weather. There weren't masses of people on the street, and I was not walking at lunch time, but there were people on every street in both downtown and the CWE. That was great to see as always. Most buildings were looking good, and construction work was going on in all of the rehabs. The banker's lofts looked great with almost all of the new windows in. The Federal Reserve site was being excavated well below ground. There seems to be a fair amount of tourists on the streets for this time of year, almost all of them were families. I happily watched them checking out all of the construction.

Downtown is really going to have it's act together this summer. I can't wait to experience it.

One of these days I will share the presentations, probably on UrbanStL.


*Class Post*

I found the article on Matthew Carter and his work creating typefaces very interesting. I never realized so much work went into it, especially the work to carve the letters in steel as was done in the past. I had no idea that a typical typeface requires designing 278 different characters. Even subtle differences in a letter that most would never notice can require a complete redesign of the set. A designer also has to be able to come up with a style that has never been done before. Carter has designed an amazing sixty two full families.

Certain institutions wanting their own typeface is interesting. With a type face specifically designed for your use, you can set yourself apart. The New York Times was creative in saving money by only requiring letters to spell out "The new York Times."

The part of the article I liked most was when Carter spoke about identifying forgeries by typefaces he designed. Identifying the two forgeries by a typeface being used before it was created was a method that I had never thought of. I will remember this if I ever forge a dated document.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church is now taking it's final few breaths. An article in today's Southwest City Journal states that the Board of Aldermen has passed a redevelopment bill allowing the church to be torn down. Back on December 19, this project was rejected by the City Preservation Board. The Board ruled that the church and other buildings on site were historic and should not be demolished. This was a pet project of Alderman Vollmer and the Catholic Church. The whole story can be found here.

Why do aldermen insist on aldermanic courtesy? I know it secures votes for their pet projects, but do they really not see some projects are simply bad for the city? This just makes me want work even harder to change the political culture of St. Louis. Someday people that get it will be in charge, hopefully before I am gone.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Evils of Technology: PowerPoint

*Class Post*

So is PowerPoint really evil, or is it the greatest thing ever created? I think the answer lies somewhere in between. Certain situations and presentations lead me to feel certain ways about the software. An example of a good use of Powerpoint in my eyes is when a presenter puts a few main topics on a slide as talking points, and then can fully expand on the points in the slide. This way the audience can get the general topic off the slide, but they still have to listen to the presenter to fully understand the topic.

The dark side of PowerPoint, and we've all done this, is when a presenter put's his entire speach onto the slides and essentially reads off the slides. This is boring, and shows a lack of knowledge and effort on the presenters part. If someone wanted to just read their speech, why put it on PowerPoint in the first place. Large amounts of text on a slide is also distracting and takes away from the presentation.

This following quote from Edward R. Turte in the article sums the situation up well:
PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience
In other words, PowerPoint is a good tool, but no one knows how to use it properly. That is the true evil in this case.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Update to Misguided Citizens for Responsible Development

A group of people that want to show support for the Lindell Condos project have joined together to show our support to Opus and the city, as well as gather other supporters. We are meeting on Sunday at 1:00 pm at the Grind in Maryland Plaza in the CWE to plan out our counter petition and exactly what we want to do. There is more info over at

Misguided Citizens for Responsible Development

Patti Tepper and her crew of urban foes in the CWE have now formed a group called Citizens for Responsible Development, a name which I think is rather ironic for this group. Their main goal is to stop Opu's proposal of a 28 floor modern design condo building on the Northeast Corner of the intersection of Lindell and Euclid. Read the article in the West End Word. Their main reason for opposition to the project is the CWE historic district rules which state that buildings should be limited to 10-15 floors. Here's what Carolyn Toft of Landmarks had to say about the rules-

Carolyn Toft, president of Landmarks Association, said that the historic district standards are legislation, but that exceptions and variances can be made. A CWE resident, Toft helped draft the standards more than 25 years ago.

“The question is, is a variance in the best interest of the city and the neighborhood?” Toft said.

Yes, a variance is in the best interest of the neighborhood. Don't hold back a great project because of legislation that may not always be right.

Here's my quick rebuttal to the text on the front page of their site
We are in favor of responsible development that adds value to our CWE neighborhood, our city, and our region.
Than why are you not in favor of this project. Some minor things need to be reworked, but overall it is a high quality development. This 28 floor building will add more value to the neighborhood than a ten floor building on that corner. A two story building with no interaction to the street on a high profile corner will be replaced with 200 condos and retail.
The second Opus Development project, now proposed for the northeast corner of Lindell and Euclid, has been given special treatment by the City of St. Louis: its site has been blighted, it received a TIF, and it violates the Historic District ordinance previously established for all buildings within the neighborhood.

This special treatment sets a harmful precedent for the entire City.
I don't think this is any more special than any other large development project receives. Oh yeah, the historic district. What about all those other buildings over 15 floors on the same block. Talk about a slippery slope. Isn't this what variances are for. Nothing wrong with a 28 floor building with a modern design. 4545 Lindell has a very modern design, why weren't you against that building. That's right, It''s not right in your backyard. you weren't being selfish like you are with this project.

SIGN the Petition against the proposed project by request to:

With these Petitions we will TELL Alderwoman Lyda Krewson to support a building that conforms to the Historic District ordinance for the area.
Please don't sign it, and I don't think it's going to make a big difference anyway.
VISIT the first Opus Development project at Laclede and Euclid to
obseve problems similar to those of the now proposed project at Lindell and Euclid.
I can't quite figure out what they are referring too. Is it because the Park East took a surface parking lot, and gasp, is right up to the sidewalk.
I agree, but but don't be against a project because you are selfish. Like you said, think about the betterment of the neighborhood and the city and region as a whole. The current project is the best option, although I wouldn't be opposed to it being even taller.

I really felt like an alderman defending myself against Elliot Davis of "You Paid for It" on Channel 2. Except I din't make myself look like a completel fool.


*Class Post*

Plagiarism. It's a tough area to define. Stealing someones work word for word is obviously plagiarism, but there is so much more to it. Paraphrasing was always taught in grade school as a good way to avoid plagiarism, but I have now learned that even this is considered wrong. Unless there is quotes around the phrase, and it is properly cited, you are plagiarizing someone. Your personal original ideas do not nead quotes, but if you are taking your personal idea from a different published work, you are required to cite the source. While plagiarism is definately not something to do, because it is stealing, I think it can get a little overboard sometimes. It is possible to accidentally forget to cite a source once in a while. Putting someting into your own ideas can be difficult at times, and if four or five word of a bigger sentence is copied does not matter to me. I guess the individual interpretation is up to everyone, but you better cover your butt anyway.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Centre of Failure

Steve Patterson of Urban Review St. Louis reports that an announcement on the future of the failed St. Louis Centre Mall downtown will be made sometime this week. I'll make judgement when I see the announcement, but I'll say right now that I am not necessarilly optomistic. Hopefully it will at least include plans to immediately remove the bridge over Washington Ave. That can not happen soon enough. Done right, a redeveloped St. Louis Centre could be a great asset to downtown, but done poorly like it is now, the centre will continue to be a drag on the area. Not completely sure exactly what I want in St. Louis Centre's place, but I know it is definitely not going to succeed as an enclosed mall.

Searching Google

*This post is for my class*

Personally, I do not mind if the government sees what I search for. I have nothing to hide. I have not searched or how to make a backpack nuclear bomb or how the effectively take out a bridge. I don’t think many people would have anything to hide either. That brings up the point of how much good a subpoena will really do. What does the government actually need one million random web addresses for? If the government wants to have the addresses to protect children as they claim, why don’t the investigators look them up? Private businesses should not have to do the work for the government.

The whole situation with searching and wiretapping is ridiculous to me. In general I do not have a problem with either; I just don’t think devoting so many resources to domestic surveillance is a worthwhile use of what we have. How many people is the government really going to catch in America? Were the thousands of wiretaps actually successful? It just doesn't seem worth it to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ballpark Village

After all the talk that it would never happen, it is finally official. Ballpark Village will be built. It was made official in a story on Fox 2 News tonight. I have had the renderings since November 10, but it is nice to see that Ballpark Village is now officially designed and will be under construction by the end of the baseball season. Cordish of baltimore is the lead developer.

Ballpark Village will be a $450 million project covering six city blocks adjacent to the new Busch Stadium. The new development will have 1,200 condos in four towers, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 400,000 square feet of office space.

In my mind, the best feature of Ballpark Village is that it restores the street grid. The old Busch and the parking lot where the new Busch is was a giant superblock. While the new park is a superblack, it is in a spot where I think the stadium works well for it's size, right up against the highway where no through streets are anyway. Ballpark Village will be able to tie together the south end of downtown with the north end of downtown much better than the old Busch did. The village will be urban.

I find the design of the buildings to be good for the most part. Good mix of styles. Brick for the mid-rise buildings on the west end of the site, and all glass for the east end of the site. These buildings will make a dramatic difference in the skyline, and they offer a different style than much of downtown. The new towers should add a nice modern contrast to the surrounding historic buildings in Cupple's Station and the Tum's factory, along with the retro designed ballpark. I did a rough count of floor heights and it looks like there is one at 15, two buildings in the 15-20 range, one at 25, One at 26-27, and one at about 34 floors. And these towers will be in camera views shipped all over the country.

1,200 residents in a six block area also brings badly needed residential density to the south end of downtown, an area lacking much besides offices and useless parks. There needs to be many year round residents, not just fans and office workers, for an area to really thrive. Look at the area around Washington Ave. for an example of what good density can do.

But I am glad to here that office space will be in the project. There are several firms looking for large Class A spaces downtown, so hopefully some will consider Ballpark Village.

Being next to the new ballpark and having so many residents and shops should make for some nice pedestrian traffic on the streets. Another great urban aspect of this development. The open section of Busch should make for large crowds on Clark catching some of the games for free.

Overall, Cordish does good urban developments.

Now if we could just get something done about the ugly and anti-urban stadium parking garages.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Snow Angels In The Outfield

The snow falling today in St. Louis made for some neat scenes around town. Check out for more of my snow pics of the new Cardinal's Ballpark.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Note to Readers

As you may have noticed, this blog has come back to life. While I will be doing St. Louis and Urban based posts, I will also be doing a post once a week for my Tech Apps class. You can read them if you want, but they will probably have absolutely nothing to do with cities. Just think of it as my user fee.

Reflection on "The Net Gen Goes to College"

College professors are being told to use technology in the classroom. Video, powerpoint, and computer software are in demand by the new generation of students, often called the Millenials. But is the use of technology in the classroom really necessary? Some say yes, and some say absolutely not.

I agree with both sides in this case. Technology is great as a tool for learning, but so are traditional teaching methods. There is no doubt that todays students are different than past generations. We grew up with technology. We have been checking websites while doing a reading asignment and Instant Messaging at the same time for years. Students are bored when they go to class and get the same old lecture over and over again. Different technologies allow a professor to vary the class instruction. But technology should not be the only device used in teaching. The lecture is just as good of a tool now as it was fifty years ago. Traditional research papers are just as useful as a powerpoint presentation. I think it is more important to use all of the different teaching tools effectively instead of just one tool on either side of the spectrum.

This quote sums it up for me quite well. " We find that they like Multi-media -- they want text, video, and sound," according to Mike Turner of Case Western Reserve University. I agree, I don't want just one tool, I want them all.