First, an honorable mention goes to the Schmidt Art Center on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. A small jewel of a space out near the cornfields, the Schmidt is well worth the trip out to the end of the MetroLink line.
But let's face it: As much as we like to award recognition to the least-expected, the building Emily Pulitzer's money built in Midtown can't be designated an also-ran, no matter how snarly our inclinations. The first great work of architecture of the twenty-first century? A strong argument could be made for it. And with Louis Sullivan's Wainwright Building arguably the last great work of architecture of the nineteenth century, Tadao Ando's poetic structure, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis can claim a perfect pair of buildings that travel from the modern to the late-late modern. Ando is much too classical to be called a postmodernist, as some do. He's covetous of light and air, inviting these elements to enter and drape his voluptuous spaces. You don't lose your sense of time in the Pulitzer Foundation; rather, you experience a brief encounter with the eternal.