Monday, March 23, 2009

C'est trop grand et trop noir

I feel bad deeming this development a bad mansard but since it gets in my face daily, I have no choice.  It's asking for it.

Here we have the newly built Union Club by Gilded Age at Jefferson and Lafayette on the site of an old Aldi. When I lived in Lafayette Square I actually used to shop there on occasion- it was too cheap to pass up.  And I am nothing if not cheap.  5 cans for $1.00.  Cannot beat that with a stick, but this mansard deserves a beating.

The Bad Union Mansard (BUM) started off well.  The neighbors were happy to replace the Aldi. The developers originally promised "mixed street level retail and residential."  blah blah blah.  Everyone says that.  This usually means residential over some retail- sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

Here's what the plans look like, and specifically the front elevation- link here.  Unfortunately, I seldom drive that part of Lafayette.  I usually see the back side of the Union Club about 5 times a day, as does anyone who travels on highway 44 or Jefferson.  This mansard always has its exophthalmic eyes boring into the back of you skull.  It's such a shockingly large mansard that it's easy to lose focus and drive off the road.

I appreciate the brick facade (although I bet it's just veneer) and the effort made with the turrets. I sense that the developer cared at street level, but clearly checked out early on the mansard.  Such a huge bad mansard is certainly ironic given Lafayette Square's stock of gorgeous 2nd Empire Victorians with flawless mansard roofs.

This roof looks like it was fabricated in a giant's workshop and shoved on top of an unsuspecting dollhouse with Super 77 and shoo-goo.  There's no variety in color, texture or tile. No windows- in fact, there are more windows on one wall of the single family "printemps" mansard below than the ENTIRE southern elevation of this 39-unit development.  Like its subsidized public housing mansard fail neighbors to the east at Lafayette and Tucker, this giant, hulking mansard looks like the Stay Puff marshmallow man and charcoal briquet cross-breed; the unibrow of mansards.

Bad Union Mansard (BUM) does look decent at street level, assuming you don't look all the way to the top of the building.   Get used to this bad mansard- there's no escaping its bulky gaze.  


  1. What I hate about that one is that weird privacy wall. It's like highway 40 came and laid an egg right in the middle of the city.

  2. I wouldn't say it laid an egg as much as a turd. It's like West County took a dump on Lafayette Square.