Past conditions for future use: the adaptive use of St. Louis Union Station



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Texas Tech University


The adaptive use of existing buildings was largely stimulated by the 1976 introduction of federal tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures. Since 1976, the focus of these tax incentives has shifted, and the conditions that make re-using urban buildings feasible have likewise changed. This study will investigate what these conditions have been in order to identify the effects of economics, design, and publicprivate partnerships on the feasibility of commercially re-using monumental civic structures.

The specific vehicle for this study will be an examination of the adaptive-use and revitalization of the Union Station Complex in St. Louis, Missouri. The 1894 Romanesque Revival Union Station was successfully renovated in 1985 as a hotel and commercial facility through private development aided by federal tax incentives. Study of other adaptive-use projects and facility types, both in St. Louis and nationally, will provide a contextual basis concerning Union Station's history, design, urban setting, and civic stature.

This investigation specifically seeks to better illvmiinate and articulate the balance between economic and non-economic conditions which make commercial re-use of monumental civic structures feasible. In a broader context, such a study may in a small way contribute to a new theoretical framework concerning the feasibility of adaptive use in an urban setting.