Shell Building

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In an era where we now plop down rectangular buildings in the middle of a parking lot, the 1925 Shell Building by Jamieson and Spearl in western downtown teaches us a valuable lesson about the beauty of working with an unusual site plan, not against it.

Shell Building, Thirteenth and Locust Streets. Photograph by W.C. Persons, ca. 1920s. Commercial Buildings Collection. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 30038 (scan only). Scan 2005, Missouri Historical Society.

Due to the platting of Locust Street through Lucas Park, the street doglegs at 13th Street. While the curve of the building is claimed to be inspired in part by the Shell logo of the eponymous oil company based within, certainly the graceful curve works with, not against the odd intersection.

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I had a hard time qualifying the architectural style of this building; it is Chicago School in certain aspects, but I get an Art-Deco feeling when I look at it. Besides the shells, it is a remarkably austere and beautiful building.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bryon says:

    Beautiful building. Nicely written Chris. I like how you pointed out that the architects worked with the street layout and touched upon the curvature of the Shell logo all within the same design. Insightful stuff right there. Very few people would pick up on that other than subliminally. Most would say, like I have, “So what? It’s curved. Meh”. It’s the little articles like this that make this site not only interesting but educational and inspiring.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thanks, Bryon.

  2. Tom Maher-Kirkwood says:

    Jimmy Doolittle worked there when he was an executive with Shell!
    Also – a link to its history:
    Are the “SHELL” letters still lit?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, the sign still works.

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