From Pet Plaza to Pointe 400 Apartments
The Pet Milk Building constructed in 1969 at 400 S. 4th Street, adjacent to Busch Stadium and walking distance from the iconic St. Louis Arch in downtown St. Louis, stands as a testament to the successful execution of New Brutalism Architecture. Designed by renowned architect A.L. Aydelott, this 15-story tower served as world headquarters for Pet, Inc., reflecting a bold and assertive image for a company that had expanded well beyond its initial product – evaporated milk. With its intricate design, the building not only became a distinguished St. Louis landmark, but also earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Architecture and Significance
The architectural significance of the building comes from its successful embodiment of New Brutalism, a movement that embraced the use of exposed concrete to create bold, sculptural forms. Aydelott's design incorporated a complex grid of lintels, shades, porches, and bay windows, providing the tower with a deep articulation and heavy shadow reminiscent of older architectural styles. The overall facade offered endless interest through its weaving complexity.
The Milk Building was more than just a building; it was a symbol of the company's expansion and modernity. Constructed during a period when many businesses were moving to the suburbs, Pet's decision to establish its corporate headquarters in downtown St. Louis showcased a forward-thinking approach. The tower's completion in 1969 marked a benchmark in architectural achievement, garnering attention from publications like Architectural Record, which dedicated eight pages to its coverage titled "A Powerful Silhouette for a High-Speed Environment."
Local critic George McCue praised the "forthright ruggedness of concrete with confident dignity and elegance," describing the building as "painstakingly detailed as a hand-crafted object." Dr. Osmund Overby, a distinguished architectural historian, later asserted that the Pet Milk Building surpassed other examples of New Brutalism in Missouri, emphasizing its unmatched authority and nuance.
Transformation into Pointe 400 Luxury Apartments
After a period of vacancy, Pet Plaza underwent a transformation that preserved its architectural legacy while adapting to contemporary needs. The tower was repurposed into luxury apartments, aptly named Pointe 400 Apartments. This renovation breathed new life into the landmark and also contributed to the revitalization of the surrounding downtown area.
The adaptation into Pointe 400 Luxury Apartments showcases a harmonious blend of historical significance and modern functionality. The building's period of significance was redefined, extending beyond its original completion in 1969 to encompass its new role as a city residential space. The tower, now repurposed, stands as a unique example of adaptive reuse, preserving the spirit of its Brutalist architecture while catering to the changing urban landscape.
Pet Plaza was more than just a building; it was a symbol of the company's expansion and modernity.
From its origins as the headquarters of Pet, Inc. to its current incarnation as Pointe 400 Luxury Apartments, the tower at 400 S. 4th Street in St. Louis has experienced a remarkable journey. The Pet Milk Building's architectural prowess and historical significance have endured, and its transformation into residential spaces ensures that its legacy will continue to shape the cityscape for generations to come. The story of the Pet Milk Building, now Pointe 400 Luxury Apartments, serves as a compelling example of how architectural landmarks can evolve to meet the needs of a vibrant urban environment.