by Michael R. Allen
Demolition work at the Cochran Gardens housing complex north of downtown is nearing completion. After demolition of three low-rise buildings, wreckers are working to finish demolition of one of the two tall buildings at the former public housing complex.
Completed in 1953 and designed by architectural firm Hellmuth, Yamasaki & Leinweber, Cochran Gardens was the first project built by the St. Louis Housing Authority that made use of high-rise buildings. However, the complex balanced three tall buildings with low-rise buildings. Cochran included twelve buildings, and six were six stories each, two were seven stories, and four were twelve stories. Nevertheless, Cochran Gardens set the stage for the Pruitt, Igoe, Darst, Webbe, Vaughn and Blumeyer housing complexes that were composed exclusively of tall buildings. In time, all of these projects have been cleared and redeveloped, most using the federal HOPE VI program.