Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

the modern house I use to hate March 18, 2009

Filed under: Design,Landscaping,St Louis,The hood — budint @ 1:43 am

modern house on juniata

Back in 2002-03 (can’t remember), I was a big fan of the old architecture in St Louis and still am.  My neighborhood, which is the same one I’m back in today, was full of brick shotgun homes, 2 families and a street of bungalows.  I was really proud of living in an area with such original architecture that when this house was built several blocks away, I was appalled.

Like any new home on a lot in an old neighborhood, it looked out of place.  Just by the fact it was a new structure on an empty lot, it looked odd.   Add to the fact that it was a crazy looking, modern home and folks in the hood (including myself) thought it was a real mistake.  Not sure how much grief the guy took or if he even cared, but I heard about it frequently and saw ppl on the neighborhood chat board mentioning it.

So 5-6yrs later what do i think of the house?

imodern house fitting in

Firstly, I’ve realized that it takes some time for a new house to fit in.  The trees must grow back, the landscaping takes place, the weathering of materials, etc.

Secondly, the owner did a decent job w/ the landscaping that really helped to fill around the large white mass.  The thin and see thru wooden fence also does well to tie the modern structure to more natural surroundings.

Lastly, I’ve come to appreciate a mixture of design styles within a modern urban setting. I personally chose to be a bit more discrete and not disrupt the curb appeal of my street, but I don’t think that option was here for this house.   So if you’re going to go new, then challenge the current preconceptions of new homes and that’s what this guy did.

Only thing I know (or I’ve been told) about the owner is that he’s an architecture teacher at Washington University, here in St Louis.


High population density means everyone shares; amenities and problems December 29, 2007

Filed under: St Louis,The hood — budint @ 6:24 pm
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 I’ve been reading some books on Neo-urbanism and have found the movement pretty fascinating.  The idea is a throwback (with improvements) to the pre-war urban planning which consisted of a much higher population density than we currently have.  The result was more efficient use of space, more nearby amenities and a closer sense of neighborhood. This is why I like and we enjoy the loft district on Washington Ave. here in St. Louis, though it’s only our temporary home.  It’s the ultimate counter-weight to sub-urban sprawl.

A result of packing more people and amenities into a smaller area is that the community is more intertwined, for better or worse.  Last night we got the experience of the ‘worse’ part of the close proximity of the loft district.  At 3:30am the attached Copia Urban winery and restaurant caught on fire.  This forced our entire loft building and another building to evacuate immediately for fear the fire would spread to our buildings.  Living on the 8th floor we were a bit freaked out since we needed to take the stairs down the entire way w/ our dog in tow.  Fortunately it all worked out, though we were freezing outside and inconvenienced for a number of hours.

The experience did bring to light the comfort we’ll have when living in our own home which is separated by at least 5 feet on each side.  During the wait we also become more acquainted w/ our neighbors  and we look forward to having them over some time soon. The upside was that everyone is sharing the same problem, so you’re not alone.

Copia Fire

Copia Fire 2

Copia Fire Ending


The RFT telling us what we already knew, Tower Grove is the Best Neighborhood November 11, 2007

Filed under: The hood — budint @ 12:30 am
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 The RiverFront Times is St Louis’ cultural, counter-culture newspaper.  It’s the place to find out about restaurants, bars, concerts, music venues, movie reviews, cd reviews, tattoo parlors, festivals, etc. etc. Not to mention a lot of very edgy editorial writing.

Anyhow, the paper does a ‘best of’ issue every year which is pretty popular in the city and a must read in our family. Many restaurants and bars win year after year; others get complacent and fall out of the rankings. The RFT also judges sports and recreation, goods and services, arts and entertainment and more.   This year in the “Best Place to Live” category, our neighborhood of TowerGrove Park was voted #1.

This is good and bad. Good cause it reassures us that we made the right decision in moving back to the TowerGrove Park neighborhood, but bad, cause now more and more folks will move there.  We don’t want it becoming the SOHO of St Louis.

Here’s an excerpt from the description of the 2007 “Best Place to Live” winner:

“The neighborhoods that surround Tower Grove Park — Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East, Tower Grove Heights, Shaw — comprise a microcosm of St. Louis. Here bespectacled hipsters coexist with old-school south siders, tattooed urban cyclists, transplanted Wash. U. scientists, twenty-year brewery men, young families, all making a go of it. The streets are alive with dog-walking, bike-riding, stroller-pushing St. Louisans. No boundaries around sexual orientation, skin color or country of origin. A brief rundown of South Grand Boulevard eateries reflects it clearly: Meskerem (Ethiopian), Café Natasha’s Kabob (Persian), Sameem (Afghan), Pho Grand (Vietnamese), King & I (Thai)….”

Anyhow, if you haven’t seen this year’s “Best of” issue, check it out. Lots of new winners in many categories and always great writing.

Thanks for recognizing our neighborhood RFT.