30 Days of Demolition

The Social, Economic and Ecological Impacts of Architectural Loss in St. Louis

Preservation Research Office joins Carlie Trosclair for a multimedia program included in the Marfa Dialogues at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, July-August 2014. The Marfa Dialogues explores the relationship between artistic practice and climate change.

Demolition on the 4200 block of Evans Avenue, June 2014.
Demolition on the 4200 block of Evans Avenue, June 2014.


Existing urban buildings ameliorate human carbon footprint through their embodied energy and their indirect role in lessening demand for new construction and suburban sprawl. St. Louis’ building stock, however, has seen massive depletion since the 1947 city Comprehensive Plan recommended wholesale clearance of older neighborhoods, and federal highway and mortgage insurance programs incentivized suburban development. Today, the demolition rate in the city is slower than it was between 1970-1990, but the city policies still encourage or allow wanton demolition. Review of demolition is conducted only for historic preservation purposes, and that review encompasses only about 80% of the city – missing parts where demolition rates are assumed to be highest.

As a visual representation and memorializing marker, a site sensitive brick installation will outline the footprint of the residential property at 3719 Washington Boulevard that stood from 1879 to 1971 on the vacant lot across from the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, PXSTL. Using bricks from recently demolished buildings, the exterior pattern of the installation will represent a common basket-weave pattern found on the elevations of St. Louis homes. The installation works to thread our most recent losses in June with the loss of the historic dwelling at 3719 Washington Blvd over 40 years ago. An accompanying brochure and website section will present the data of one month’s urban depletion: number of potential residents, number of potential businesses, material in tons, energy expended for demolition and tax revenues to the city.


Donna Lindsay speaks at the "30 Days of Demolition" discussion held at PXSTL on August 2.
Donna Lindsay speaks at the “30 Days of Demolition” discussion held at PXSTL on August 2.

30 Days of Demolition
August 2, 2014 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
PXSTL, 3719 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 United States

Pulitzer Arts Foundation, PXSTL

Presented by The Preservation Research Office and Carlie Trosclair

Installation on view 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

At 1:00 pm.., Preservation Research Office Director Michael Allen convened a conversation on the impact of city demolition practices and policies on sustainability that included Eddie Roth, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor at the City of St. Louis; Donna Lindsay, a resident of Hyde Park; Alderman Scott Ogilvie (I-24th); and comments from many people who attended.

“30 Days of Demolition” is supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Pulitzer Arts Foundation.