By. Chris Stritzel
I recently discovered a rendering of the first parking garage on the Cortex campus and needless to say, I'm not impressed. I know this is supposed to be a parking garage but still, this ugly of a design this close to the brand new MetroLink station is unacceptable. There is no ground level retail space to interact with the street better and there is no decorative façade work to fit it in with the "innovation" district. What I mean by façade work is to make it unique and not just a concrete garage. HOK is the architect here and they should really think about mimicking the idea of putting those color changing panels onto the parking garage to spruce it up. Some street level retail should also be added along Duncan and the Chouteau's Greenway.
Cost may also be a factor which limits the scope of design but things need to improve along this stretch of the MetroLink line. When riding, not only will you have this garage staring at you but you'll also have the massive BJC garages forming a canyon of parking along the Metro line. For out of towner, this isn't really inviting despite having some hidden gems behind the monstrous garages. In the case of Cortex, future development here will come fast. At Clayton and Sarah, Koman is prepared to break ground on their Cortex K development which will bring more office space and a residential building. To get to that, one will have to walk all the way around BJC's massive Commons Parking lot.
It won't be a fun time for those who come in by MetroLink. For those visiting the Duncan side of Cortex (or staying at the future Aloft Hotel), you'll have unsightly parking garage to look at when exiting the Metro, but at least you can walk down to the commons and walk to your destination. That's more enjoyable than a garage. In the future, once residential and another office building is built along Duncan, the urban environment will be ruined by a parking garage whose developer didn't want to spend the extra money to spruce up the exterior.
On the Brightside of things, it appears that the Duncan facing façade will eb set back from the street enough to where a building could be built thus hiding the garage behind something more significant. Whatever that building could be remains a mystery to me. On top of this, Wexford does have plans for s second building at Duncan and Sarah further hiding the parking garage behind another building. Whenever that will rise remains anyone's guess one thing's for sure, this parking garage needs to be hidden.
The parking garage is currently under construction. The contractor is Tarlton an the architect is HOK.