National Architectural Arts Center in St. Louis – A MUST SEE.

This week, Jason and I took a behind the scenes tour of the National Architectural Arts Center, also known as the  BUILDINGS MUSEUM (see link!) in St. Louis, MO.  I am still in complete awe on their extensive collection of building materials… I had to blog about this right away!

Imagine if we kept entire facades, unique building details and iconic pieces of almost every major demolition in Buffalo over the past 30 years.. this is what this demo contractor did in St. Louis!  He HAND CHISELED out every important piece – the terra cotta, brick, marble, stone..etc..  of every important building he could get his hands on and has it stored and now displayed in a foundry/warehouse just outside of St. Louis.

There are 1886 statues, hundreds of columns made out of all types of materials, slabs of slate, marble and granite, unique  lion faces, a terra cotta Jesus face, lots of unique bricks of all shapes and sizes, pieces of marble… all kinds of crazy amazing stuff! Over 125 cast iron store fronts!

It’s truly remarkable… must see.. totally worth the trip down there. St. Louis is very lucky to have such a dedicated person who has spent his entire life preserving these incredible pieces. Thanks to Michael R. Allen from Preservation Research Office for the incredible tour!

1044179_10152954817880085_924868666_n 1013895_10152954817775085_2058654946_n 1016764_10152954817645085_276736775_n 944156_10152954817635085_1445386766_n 1014343_10152954817420085_1695375146_n

About the National Architectural Arts Center
In 2005, the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation acquired the former Sterling Steel Casting foundry in Sauget, Illinois just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. The 15-acre, 13-building facility is currently under renovation. Here, the Foundation is launching the National Architectural Arts Center, an unparalleled educational center housing our architectural artifacts collection and research library. The National Architectural Arts Center is envisioned as the nation’s premiere museum of architecture.

The Foundation owns large, unique collections of architectural artifacts and literature essential to its educational mission and crucial to the work of historians and scholars across the country. The Foundation’s artifact collection is the largest private collection in the United States and contains over 300,000 items. The Foundation also owns period working shops and production lines that will be used to demonstrate the process associated with the manufacturing of historic building materials, as well as the study and practice of materials conservation technology. The library encompasses an estimated quarter million rare and out of print books, periodicals, trade catalogs, historic photographs, drawings and other documents related to the building arts.

Through exhibits, tours, publications and other activities the Foundation engages the public on issues of architecture and design. Past exhibitions of Foundation artifacts have appeared at the Missouri Historical Society, Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University, Sheldon Foundation for the Arts, the St. Louis University Art Museum, the First Street Forum and the Forum for Contemporary Art.

Outreach and Assistance
The Foundation provides assistance and advice to organizations, educational institutions, museums and government agencies that are undertaking preservation and conservation projects. Additionally, the Foundation aims to raise national awareness of St. Louis’ incredible architecture.

Donn Esmonde: New Blood is Saving Old Buildings

Thanks for the great coverage, Donn!!

New blood is saving old buildings

By Donn Esmonde | News Senior Metro Columnist

on June 13, 2013 – 11:49 PM, updated June 14, 2013 at 1:55 AM


They stood in protest last month in front of the old Bethlehem Steel administration building, trying in vain to stop the bulldozers.

They are battling to save the iconic Trico complex.

But a recent afternoon found Bernice Radle and Jason Wilson in front of a different sort of building: a vacant, gutted 1860s cottage on a tattered West Side street. Months ago, it was primed for demolition. Months from now, the two will call it home.

Welcome to the new face of preservation in Buffalo. It is not just about saving and resurrecting iconic structures. It is also about restoring – one house at a time – the older building fabric that weaves together neighborhoods.

Leading the charge are Radle and Wilson. Self-described “building nerds,” the WNY natives are a near-matching pair of bright, urban-enamored, hip-eyeweared 26-year-olds who mash the eagerness of a puppy with the commitment of a bloodhound. The young preservationist power couple – the generational descendants of Tim Tielman and Sue McCartney – are joined, philosophically and domestically, by a shared love of old buildings and Buffalo.

It was connection at first sight.

“When I met Jason,” Radle told me, “I was like, ‘Sweet, finally someone I can do this with all the time.’ ”

Here is what I think is sweet: Radle and Wilson are part of a loose network of local 20-somethings with a pro-urban, preservationist sensibility. From Trico to Bethlehem Steel, they are welcome reinforcements on the front lines. Beyond that, they are primed to pick up the baton for the next generation of battles.

The battles, as they see it, will be fought as much house-to-house in recovering neighborhoods, as in front of at-risk iconic buildings.

“The Martin House, the Guaranty Building, they’ve already been saved,” said Wilson. “Our generation is also looking at rebuilding neighborhoods.”

Radle has an urban planning degree and is a project manager for Buffalo Energy. Wilson, the director of operations for Preservation Buffalo Niagara, apparently has a genetic predilection. His parents’ first date was at the old DL&W Railroad Terminal.

“People my age are looking for culture, and Buffalo is the epicenter,” Wilson told me. “The amount of history here is what really drew me.”

The two helped to start Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, a loose, social media-knitted assemblage of about two dozen activists. Radle gauges BYP’s blossoming power not just by battles won, but in Facebook “likes.”

They are as much urban pioneers as preservationists. Group methods range from buying and fixing battered houses, to sealing endangered icons like the Broadway Theater, to – I’m not kidding – “heart bombs.” Volunteers cover vacant-but-salvageable buildings with paper hearts, to highlight their plight. To date, a handful have been saved.

“You have one success,” said Radle, “and realize you can get things done.”

They found their 1860s brick cottage on the city’s demolition list. They bought four other West Side houses last fall at the city’s foreclosure auction. All will be resurrected.

“Instead of a vacant lot,” said Wilson, standing outside his future front door, “we will save a bit of Buffalo history.”

And in so doing, find a home. Long may they stay.


NESEA BE14 – Accepting Session Proposals!!!

This conference is one of the largest building conferences in the country and I am happy to be a part of the planning committee every year. If you are a building nerd, engineer, urban planner, architect – and you have something to talk about – please consider putting in a proposal for NESEA BE14. I want a ton of Buffalo representation at next years conference!!!

We’re pleased to formally announce our request for proposals for Building Energy 2014 (BE14). Last year, we received over 200 proposals, so it goes without saying that we can’t wait to see this year’s submissions. We will be accepting proposals until June 21, 2013.

Things are a little different this year. We’re launching the new BuildingEnergy “Speaker Console” to help enhance the submission process. Like other RFP services you may have used, your proposal (or proposals) will be linked to your email address and a unique ID, so you can save your work and modify your proposals at a later date. 

Other handy features include:

Alternate Contact
Now you can designate another person to be our point of contact (apart from yourself and your co-presenter). This is also handy if you’re submitting a proposal on behalf of another person.

Unified Proposal Collection
Whether you’re interested doing a workshop, session, or being part of the live demonstration stages, you can manage all your proposals through the Speaker Console.

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to accept proposals via email; only proposals submitted through the Speaker Console will be considered.


  1. Homes
  2. Multi-Family
  3. Commercial/Institutional
  4. Cities/Zero Net Energy Districts – please note, if you’re considering a proposal for this track, the Track Chair requests you read through these documents before submitting your proposal.
  5. High Performance Mechanicals
  6. What The Pros Want To Know
  7. Fundamentals
  8. Moving The Market/Energy Policy
  9. Renewables
  10. Materials

If these track titles feel broad to you, don’t worry, you’re not off mark. This set of track titles are intended to give each one focus while giving you room to make the case for why your proposal fits into a particular track.

Just letting you know ahead of time – this proposal form is pretty comprehensive. You might not have all the required information on hand the first time around, but don’t worry, that’s where the ability to save your work and return later comes in handy. Why are there more required fields on this form? Great question! We wanted to capture as much information as possible right up front with the idea that, if your proposal is accepted, we’ll be able to make your experience as a speaker that much smoother.

Great! Because of the numerous upgrades to the BE14 RFP process, we recommend reading through the modifiedProposal Process page before you start – it’s quick and easy, and there’s a link to the Speaker Console at the end. 

Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and start your proposal via the Speaker Console.

Remember, the RFP period closes June 21, 2013.Image