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Bohemian Hill Project

Rather than the Big Pink violating the city skyline in the guise of the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse or the glass-and-metal addition to the Missouri History Museum -- a postmodern greenhouse grafted onto a romanticist skin -- we favor a more modest contribution to the St. Louis cityscape. Architects Don Royse and Jo Noero set out to design homes to make urban living more attractive, bringing the intelligence of contemporary design to a sector of the city that is usually fated to nostalgic re-creations of our brick-hearted past or the wrecking ball. The Bohemian Hill Project has emerged from the model stage to reality. One home, a three-story tower, is occupied. A smaller-scale two-story is being shown by Gundaker Realty on weekends -- with a steady stream of interested home shoppers wandering through on a recent Saturday afternoon -- and another is near completion. The homes rest snugly together, and yet each has private terrace space. The two-stories include bay windows on the street and skylights on the second floor. There's a smart utilization of space and light, which makes the interiors feel both cozy and expansive. The exteriors -- even with a Bauhausy appreciation of the modernist box -- fit right into St. Louis' stocky brick-and-mortar heritage, adding a lithe and airy quality to the urban setting. Attractive, efficient, affordable -- now we'll see whether there are homebuyers who'd rather live in the city than in rural subdivisions named after forest critters.

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