I can't quite call myself a Modernist. It's just too expensive to be a full fledged Modernist today. However, I am a fan of the Modernist aesthetic and strive to achieve it in whatever I do. The reason I may seem apologetic for my leanings is because I live in a city that has not embraced the future in a long time. St. Louis has a glorious past and rests on its laurels far too often. It tries to replicate its golden age rather than update its look for today. St. Louis boomed at the turn of the 20th century. The clay deposits found in St. Louis allowed it to build itself out of brick. Given these 2 elements St. Louis is a brick city with a Victorian look.
To call yourself a Modernist in St. Louis is to move beyond this red brick past. It is a term misunderstood by most everyone in this Midwestern city. People assume that you are one of those people in favor of tearing down the Century building to put in a parking garage. That you would rip the "character" out of a historic home and replace it with suburban blandness.
On the contrary, I want to respect the past by not trying to duplicate it. I don't want to see a single brick building torn down. It's just that if there is an empty lot why should you build something that tries to replicate a days-gone-by look? Build something from this century to tell a tale to future generations of who we were and what we were capable of doing. Putting a modern home, and I don't mean post-modern nothingness of vinyl siding and fake columns, but a real modern home next to a historic home shows one how valuable the historic home is and that we should preserve it.
Vibrant cities that have either stayed current (London) or revived themselves (Toronto) know how important it is to stay contemporary. They build modern adjacent to historic and know that this is part of the urban landscape that is interesting to people.
Maybe one day I will be able to proudly call myself a Modernist in a Victorian city and not be hurled insults?
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