Bringing the Roof Down

When the Arena is imploded later this month, a valuable example of a locally based but nationally renowned architect's work will be lost

Eventually Kiewitt recouped some of the earnings he lost in the Arena project, after a tornado hit the building on the night of Feb. 10, 1959. Call it a twister of fate: The storm "passed over the Arena, and the internal pressure relieved itself by blowing a hole out of the north end," says Mollman. "Of course, my father-in-law was the only one who knew how to fix it."

It took more than a year to build the Arena, and 45 days to construct its roof, but it will require only moments for roughly 500 pounds of dynamite to destroy it. Kiewitt's design will be lost forever, reduced to rubble. No act of God will undo that damage. Cassilly considers Harmon's unyielding position a sign of pathological behavior. Mollman, too, laments the imbroglio that is leading to the ultimate demise of his father-in-law's legacy. "It's pathetic," he says. "It's a sign of the lack of imagination on the part of the civic leaders involved. They have to realize that the purpose of the city is not just to contain office parks but to have some ceremonial functions that somehow bring people together."

No one, however, seems to be coming together over this issue. And far from the human fray, the swallows will return in spring to roost in an old barn in Chesterfield.

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