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Circa 1995 - detail of the Kohler Building.
December 1998 - demolition of the Kohler Building.
Bottom: March 2001 - demolition complete; construction of the YMCA underway.
St. Louis State Hospital
The Louis H. Kohler Building was a Mid-Century Modern building erected in 1962; it was grossly misplaced, attempting to supplant the grand Classical facade of the main building with its comparatively unimpressive International Style forms. Though it matched and continued the main building's axial symetry, it also obscured it from all but the most oblique angles (the presentation rendering of the building omits the old State Hospital building entirely!)
The Kohler Building, as an example of Mid-Century Modern, was not entirely without merit. Designed by architect Marcel Boulicault, building consisted of a concrete frame infilled with orange brick. Stacked horizontal windows provided light and ventilation. It featured colorful spandrel panels checkerboarded across its facade, and a strong row of projecting bay windows on its top floor. Stone service towers capped each wing, connected to the main body of the building by short corridors clad in light blue metal panels.
But whatever its points of interest, its location doomed it to eventual demolition as Rumbold's original building was rediscovered and restored. The Kohler Building was torn down in late 1998, and doubtless few lamented its passing. Even with a more heightened appreciation of Mid-Century Modernist styles, I find that the value of restoring the intended sight lines of the main building outweighs the value of the 1962 building.
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