by Michael R. Allen
This week St. Louis University’s removal of the concrete block screens on the former IBM Building has visited the main elevation on Lindell Boulevard. Late in June, the university started removing the crucial architectural design feature on this early Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum-designed office building, which dates to 1959 (see “SLU Picks Apart HOK”, July 1). Located at 3800 Lindell Boulevard and now called Adorjan Hall, the former IBM Building is part of a district of mid-century modern buildings built on Lindell Boulevard between 1945 and 1977.
The Lindell Boulevard modernism corridor includes Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum’s earlier Sperry-Rand Building (1956) at Lindell and Sarah. That building has a similar modular plan to the IBM Building, with overhanging upper floors, clear-span window bays and very similar bay widths. Like the IBM Building, the Sperry-Rand Building gains its significance less from its own design than from its role in the larger Lindell Boulevard context. This plain, elegant International Style-inspired office block escaped the CVS demolition threat that has now taken aim at the W.A. Sarmiento-designed AAA Building at 3915 Lindell Boulevard (1976). Despite the drug store chain’s looking elsewhere, the fate of the Sperry-Rand Building is far from certain. Given the hatchet job being endured by the IBM Building, even preservation of the building could be a veiled threat.