Best New Building - 2003
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
New buildings in St. Louis, a town teeming with hundreds of classy old fixer-uppers, are, on the surface, a mixed blessing. Yes, new American architecture is in one of its occasional peaks right now, and great buildings can lift a city's reputation in some snobby fancy circles, but preservationists have a valid point that money may be better spent rehabbing a hidden gem. The Brad Cloepfil-designed Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which just celebrated its grand opening, will muzzle any detractor. It's as profoundly gratifying a building as the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts building next door, and the two perfectly complement one another. The CAMSL, adorned with a stainless-steel mesh that changes qualities with different light, elegantly fits inside its surroundings, curving along Spring as though the street had been laid to accent the building instead of the other way around -- and that's saying nothing of the interior, which feels like a minimalist cathedral.