Innovative Infrastructure, STL, UMSL

I shit on St. Louis a lot on my personal social media, but I do not neglect to recognize the great things that we are doing.

There are people improving it for sure. In fact, my campus and school, The University of St. Louis-Missouri (UMSL) is doing some stuff to make things better, beautiful, and unified.

One of the pieces of evidence of this is the new optometry building on South Campus. Take a look below. It is absolutely stunning.

The building is designed by Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum , or HOK. They are an international architectural design firm with values in sustainability and innovative and logical design. And if you know me, those are everything that I love.

The building uses natural lighting, inspiring and logical space flow design, and they use  materials that create an uplifting, clean, no fuss atmosphere. They also have designated parking spots for energy efficient cars in the front! Talk about sustainability values!

I did further research and discovered that the concept was largely pushed and proposed by the students. They recognized the importance of aesthetic in our infrastructure. And upon further research, I found that there is a long term plan to rebuild the campus in a modern efficient way. I look forward to the day that I will be able to come back to campus and it will be a bright, shining innovation hub in a once run down part of town. I am excited to see that other students and faculty are recognizing the importance of a holistic and unified campus. We have many students that recognize the great potential of this campus and push to actually make it happen. It is true, we have exceptional faculty and resources (much to the opposing voices of regular students I hear in casual conversation). UMSL has given me so much in order to be the great practical person I am. The faculty are exceptionally intelligent, resourceful, and practical. We are unusually more balanced in women in science than other institutions. I have incredible mentors that are all WOMEN believe it or not that mentor me on my favorite male dominated subjects: Math, physics, philosophy, neuroscience. UMSL is almost doing everything right internally.

The aesthetics just suck. And that gets in the way of our advertisement to the world. But that is changing. And the proof of that is with this building and their plan to redesign the campus (as well as the new science building on North Campus just across the street).

On a broader note, one of my biggest complaints about St. Louis is our lack of recognition and development for innovative space. There are several sites in the city that do have it, it is true. Our neighbor school, Washington University in St. Louis is one of those. They put a lot of care into their buildings and property. Near downtown by the T-Rex is also fortunate. There are several parks and spaces–zoos, Forest Park, Art Hill, etc. that are well kept. But a lot of it is privately funded. And the location relation is all fragmented. You will go into a terrible neighborhood then somehow end up in the richest neighborhood when you turn the fifth corner. There is no unification to the organization of St. Louis. The government itself is very poor and does not spend our money well. Our organizational system is broken up into the city versus the excessive number of counties anyway, so centralization is difficult to keep up. As a result, much of the physical space goes neglected. I think this is a terrible mistake to neglect our physical space. It is an actual discussion that ugly spaces could worsen mental health! Even though I know St. Louis has many problems besides space issues.

I know myself, I am hugely affected by my environment. I get depressed and minorly suicidal at the third cloud day in a row. I also get depressed in smoggy, ugly, stuffy, poorly lit buildings. It’s terrible. On my campus, a lot of the buildings have literal MOLD in them as well as dust and dirt in the vents. The majority of the campus is dirty and falling apart due to the abnormally old age of the buildings and insufficient budget funds to update them. I would know. I wrote the whole investigative article series about it on my school newspaper.

It is unfortunate, because I get horrible allergies from it all. And I am sure I am not the only one. I am too lazy to look up statistics (but might if someone bugs me about it), but I am sure UMSL caters to a much poorer demographic. I mean, they are a state school and a major transfer location for community college students. Poorer people have less money for health and other things, so it is more crucial and important that they are exposed to healthy settings if they are individuals that also happen to have a lot of health and mental health issues.

I was in San Diego for just 4 days and I barely had mental health or physical issues for a lot of it aside from the perfume allergy from my roommates. I wanted to stay there so bad I am considering moving there after graduation. But that is a disappointment. I am an individual that prizes innovation, true talent, bold directions and projects, and nice landscape and unified settings, which are all the things required for growth and advancement. The fact that I want to move somewhere else is indicative that St. Louis is not doing enough to keep people like me here (and it’s true, people just leave this place once they grow up or finish their degrees). I am happy that St. Louis is working on it. But it is still sad to hear that it will be some time until we get to a true successful state. On our campus as I said, we do not have money to immediately fix the existing buildings (much of the money for the newer buildings like the  new Recreation Center and the optometry building is coming from voted student paid fees).

That’s all for now.

PS: I am wearing an entirely secondhand sustainable outfit wearing designer DKNY, Adriano Goldschmied, and Paul Green from The Vault Luxury Resale and The Scholar Shop.

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