Ecology of Absence

Ecology of Absence website, 2003-4.

And so if perforce we must study disease let us study it systematically. I cannot indicate to you the precise nature of that constitutional social disturbance of which our architecture is symptomatic; but little by little I will reveal to you the hidden causes and make clear and palpable to you the aspects and nature of the malady.
– Louis H. Sullivan, Kindergarten Chats

Ecology of Absence is a chronicle of architectural events in the St. Louis region that started as a companion to the website of the same name. The major theme of the blog is historic architecture and the primary goal is to build awareness of that architecture and the forces — social, economic, aesthetic, ecological — that create, threaten and sustain it. The editorial approach is to “strike the roots” and look beyond threatened buildings at the larger forces that create, change and often destroy the built environment of the city. Public policy is a key part of the analysis. Consequently, the blog focuses on changes in the built environment that come about as St. Louis attempts to stem the deindustrialization, depopulation, shrinking public services and loss of architectural fabric that define the modern American urban condition. There is occasional coverage of other cities and adjacent areas in Missouri and Illinois.

Ecology of Absence, website 2004-10.

Michael R. Allen started Ecology of Absence as a website in August 2003 and has been its primary editor and author ever since. The blog was launched in 2004, and in 2007 all publication moved to the blog. Claire Nowak-Boyd co-edited Ecology of Absence from June 2004 through September 2007. In 2010, the Preservation Research Office assumed ownership of Ecology of Absence.

Submissions Policy

Ecology of Absence welcomes guest articles. Articles will be published if relevant to the blog’s focus, well-researched and well-written. Photographic and video submissions are also welcome. Submissions should be sent to