Recently, we entered an architectural design competition in which we were tasked with designing a memorial to commemorate the Baltic Way. On the 23rd of August 1989, approximately two million people joined hands to form a 373-mile human chain through the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Their goal was to demonstrate a united front against the occupation of the Soviet Union that had been in place since World War II.
The Baltic Way was an act of nonviolent protest on an extraordinary scale. It demonstrated the power of people to instigate change through constructive and collective action, united in their desire for independence. Standing Together, as we named our design, used this enlightened language of strength to inform its architectural approach to the Baltic Way memorial. The memorial operates at two scales. From a distance, it serves as a recognizable landmark within the urban fabric: a symbol of civic pride and celebration of Baltic history. At a smaller scale, the memorial engages with visitors and provides information about the people and events of the Baltic Way.
The power of the Baltic Way lay in its sheer magnitude. Standing Together explores the concept of the many comprising the whole, using the accumulation of individual elements to create a mass that is monumental yet porous. Hundreds of thin columns stand arranged along a scaled-down version of the Baltic Way route. The columns densify around the points of the three capital cities, where the most people congregated for the event, and thin out in the intermediate areas where fewer people stood. The result is a dynamic field of repeated elements that, seen from a distance, reads as a single entity. The columns echo other vertical elements in the immediate urban context: the rows of trees lining the streets; the spires on nearby churches; the masts of the sailboats on the Daugava River in summer.
Below are the presentation boards we submitted. We would love to hear your thoughts!
Fox recently had the honor to help our local USO at Lambert Field with some renovations to their facility. We, along with our friends at Musick construction and Guarantee Electric were part of a team providing pro-bono work at the James S. McDonnell USO in Lambert’s Terminal 1. This work was organized and funded by Emerson.
It was great working with the staff and volunteers, and learning about the important work that the USO does to support our troops. It’s a busy place, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. At peak travel times it can be a hectic place, but the staff and volunteers keep things humming nicely. We received a nice certificate of appreciation that’s proudly displayed in our office and to my surprise and delight, a challenge coin.
We are proud to do our small part
I am a firm believer that you need to spend quality time in a place to understand the nuances that make it what it is. This is essentially it’s “sense of place”. It might be something about the architecture, the interior, the people who are there, the landscape, the smells and sounds – or likely all of these – that make up the soul of a place. The French term “je ne sais quoi” is just this.
As an architect we spend a lot of time designing our projects. We pay particular attention to building the right framework for our clients, so the environment will meet their needs. But only after they have moved in and spent considerable time there can you begin to grasp the project’s sense of place. It takes people and the thousands of interactions over a period of time for these things to develop.
For several years now a group of Fox staff and friends has gathered Friday mornings in the summer to sketch. Last year, we paid particular focus to the areas around Benton Park. As the weather turned colder, a few die hard sketchers decided to continue on Friday mornings at the Mudd House on Cherokee. There are two good reasons for meeting at the Mudd House. First, they open at seven. Second, the coffee and food is excellent.
Most Friday mornings there is as much conversation than sketching. We’ve sat at every table, and sketched just about everything in the room. There is a lot of sketching of people, which is a good thing for architects (historically bad at drawing people due to the lack of straight lines!). After spending so much time here, we are all beginning to understand the Mudd House’s unique Sense of Place. It’s as comfortable as an old leather chair.
The Grand Opening for the Helix, Emerson‘s new Innovation Center on the campus of the University of Dayton had it’s grand opening April 27th. Fox was well represented at the opening with members of the project team, including Joe Burzinski, Denise Fuehne, Neill Scheiter and Michael Fox. Tours were given, facebook posts and tweets sent out and speeches were made: the following is an Excerpt from CEO David Farr’s address to the crowd
“Exciting to see where business and the community can get together to create something unique to solve the world’s problems, and not be told by a government to do it. This is pure innovation, the way it should be done, just like the great Wright Brothers who founded the aircraft industry many years ago. Pure innovation. Pure heart and soul and hard work. The Helix represents Emerson’s commitment to innovation. It’s been our cornerstone of this great company for over 125 years.”
Fox is proud of our long history supporting and collaborating with Emerson.
For the past few days there has been substantial news coverage on updates for the future of Grant’s Farm. The four Busch family siblings who wanted to sell Grant’s Farm to the St. Louis Zoo have now offered to buy the park themselves. As the opposition continues, we wish nothing but the best for the entire Bush Family and hope they come to an agreement. We are proud to support Billy’s efforts to keep future control of Grant’s Farm with the Busch Family.
The words “Archive” and “Architecture” have similarities beyond a common root, the Indo-European “arkhein” (to begin, command, rule). You build an archive by collecting and curating the writings, objects and memories of a group of people. Architects build by beginning with an idea, and placing layer upon layer of intent on that original idea. Both are a collection of parts adding to a greater whole. Architecture and Archives have stories to tell.
The Jesuit Archives of the Central United States are in the process of re-imagining their home, and have selected a team lead by Fox Architects for this effort. We could not be more excited to be a part of their project!
The existing facility on West Pine in the Central West End is a place filled with stories of the past and knowledge for our future. The archives staff, lead by David Miros Ph.D. share a contagious enthusiasm for the collection and their work. They are growing, and with growth comes opportunity.
Their new facility (farther east on West Pine, near SLU) will feature an expanded US Central and Southern Province archives and as such is poised to become a major center for the American Jesuit community, researchers and scholars. It has the potential to radically broaden the audience and mission of the archives.
The team includes BSI Constructors, McClure Engineering and KPFF Structural Engineers.
This morning every St. Louis media outlet detailed Billy Busch‘s Business Plan for the future of Grant’s Farm. Billy’s plan illustrates an existing future for this treasured St. Louis landmark. Key elements in Billy’s plan include the building of a new Kraftig pavilion and a Bavarian Style Demonstration Brewery. Included in this morning’s press release were Fox Architects renderings of these new facilities. We are proud to support Billy’s efforts to keep future control of Grant’s Farm with the Busch Family.
Fox Architects Bob Dunn has been featured in Belleville News-Democrat. The article is titled: “Local architect takes pride on O’Fallon Tim Horton’s, Reliance Bank project“. Click on the link to read all about it.
Spring Semester 2016 for the Alberti Program at Washington University is here, and once again Fox has delivered a lecture, this time on “Mid Century Modern Housing in St. Louis”. Why the topic? None other than Fox Architects Alum and Maryville University Professor Jessica Senne joined me for this presentation. Jessica was recently awarded the prestigious CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) 2015 Award for Excellence Honorable Mention for her exhibition of the work of Ralph Fournier. Mr. Fournier was a Wash U grad and designer of many Mid Century Modern houses in the St. Louis area. His work has long been recognized by a small group of devotes for it’s timeless, simple elegance: lately there has been a resurgence of interest in the designs of this era. It is easy to understand why. These designs make the most of their surroundings. They “bring the outdoors in”. The best of them have a serene, peaceful quality. They make excellent use of natural light. And they can be budget friendly compared to the value received.
Jessica lives in a Fournier house which we used as an example of Mid Century Modern design. We built our own Mid Century Modern house in Sketchup, and went through the process with the students. Afterwards, led by their professor Gay Lorberbaum and a cadre of Wash U student teachers, the Alberti students went off to construct models of their own Mid Century Modern house.
Alberti takes elementary school students from across the St. Louis area. The program is free but selection is limited to students chosen by their principals and teachers. They learn about design through lectures like mine and hands on work. I can tell you from watching them, they have a great time. If you want to help out the program or offer your services to the Alberti program please contact Washington University, Sam Fox School.