The Kansas City Power and Light Building was the tallest skysscraper in Missouri for decades, only surpassed by a modernist skyscraper in St. Louis.Its Art-Deco detailing once features a dramatic light show when the building first opened.Hoit, Price and Barnes designed this remarkable building, as well as other buildings around the city.Again, how did St. Louis not get around to building so many tall buildings during this era, even though it was a larger city?
Many years ago, there was a beautiful building in downtown St. Louis, sheathed entirely of marble, and featuring a large open floor plan on the first floor easily adaptable for reuse, as it was once a department store and theater back in St. Louis’s heyday. Two citizens, Roger Plackemeier and Marcia Behrendt, believed it was outright ridiculous to tear down such a beautiful building, and they sued to stop it, as is their right as Americans. They were counter-sued by the developers, initiating a SLAPP suit, who tore down the building to build a parking garage with the same shape, with a grocery store on the first floor. The developer refused, for six years, to give the two concerned citizens their day in court. Apparently, last year, the case was finally heard, and the jurors called to the trial. But at the last moment, the parties settled, and the judgment on the one charge the defendants plead guilty to was sealed. What really happened? We’ll never know, perhaps, since the two parties are barred from talking about it. Does anyone else know anything about what happened that day in court?
Slightly outside of the heart of downtown and not really near any major attraction, the Missoui Pacific Building recently underwent a massive renovation. I’m not happy that what was originally intended to be another condo tower was downgraded into a hideous parking garage, fronting the major north-south axis of downtown; but nonetheless, I am glad that the building was renovated, and if it took the parking garage being built to get it done, then so be it. The parking garage can be replaced with a more elegant structure in the future.
Interestingly, it seems the Missouri Pacific Railroad was once headquartered in one of the buildings demolished for the Gateway Mall.
Note that the builders didn’t sheath the inside wall of the skyscraper; it seems that in the optimistic days of the turn of the century, people were certain that wall would one day be obscured by a skyscraper of similar height.
If only their optimism had come to fruition, we would have possessed a wonderful block of Art-Deco buildings fronting the civic plaza.
I have to admit that the new windows really make the building look great, even if they’re not 100% historically accurate.
The Art-Deco detailing, above on the rampart of the building, and below, in the stunning entrance lobby, are what make this building stand out.
I particularly enjoy how the stone switches to gray on the first floor, highlighting the entrance.
The giant C-scrolls, rife with careful detailing, are a stark contrast to the clean lines of the terracotta white building rising above them.