Development Infill Philadelphia

Saint Louis is Ready for This

by Jeff Vines

While your editor is traveling, I turn over the blog to my dear friend Jeff Vines of to keep the conversation going. Jeff and I were in Philadelphia together for the inspiring Next American Vanguard. Philadelphia left us inspired by practices that we saw there and the ideas shared among the Vanguard participants.

Fresh back from the Next American Vanguard conference in Philadelphia, and what an incredible experience it was! The conference included an extensive bus tour of gritty North Philly neighborhoods, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly envious. Not because Saint Louis’ historic urban fabric can’t stand with the greatest cities in America (Philly included)– it certainly can. But in terms of contemporary residential architecture, Saint Louis falls painfully short. The City of Brotherly Love– a town that celebrates its history perhaps more proudly than any other in America– also manages to embrace bold modern design, and such a contrast of new and old is striking, refreshing and inspiring.
One particularly fine development in the Northern Liberties section knocked my socks off.

The Piazza!

This sleek, modern development incorporates apartments, dining, retail and public gathering spaces, and it does it beautifully.

Balancing contemporary urban design with the dense, historic neighborhood that surrounds it, The Piazza is more than a complex of buildings, it’s a community.

Philly gets it right!

Enough with the faux-historic clocktowers and phony brick facades that St. Louis developers seem preoccupied with– it’s not 1915 anymore. The proposed City Walk development on the former Doctors Building site at Euclid and West Pine could be and should be a truly transformative project, yet the renderings are contrived, underwhelming and overdone. It’s time we aim higher.

Saint Louis deserves it.