A memo left on my desk while I was away mentions that a St. Louis architect named Tom Schwetye has proposed the construction of an 8-foot tall gambion wall around an industrial site in north St. Louis. The wall would join two clusters of the site into a single compound of mostly historic industrial buildings, screening the site from the residential properties that surround it.
I looked it up. A gambion wall is built by filling large baskets — usually of galvanized steel mesh with cut or broken stones. The resulting wall is self-draining, eco-friendly, and virtually graffiti proof.
Such walls were well known in ancient cultures, widely used in Civil War trenches, mostly seen in Missouri nowadays as retaining walls along highways — and (I loved this part) are really hot architectural elements in Europe. Architectural Review raves over one in Montpellier, France (see above). Emily Pulitzer has a gambion wall installed at the Pulitzer Foundation in Grand Center.
Built carefully with uniformly sized and pigmented rocks, such a wall could actually enhance the appearance of the Hyde Park Historic District. Mr. Schwetye and his client, Shreves Engine Company, already have the support of 3rd Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr.
They may get mine.