History of The Shanley Building (1935)
Location: 7800 Maryland Avenue
Clayton, MO 63105
Source: Internet search
Harris Armstrong designed this office building which was commissioned by the orthodontist Dr. Leo M. Shanley.
The Shanley building was the first expression of the International style in this part of the country. Its design
won Armstrong a silver medal at the Paris Exposition of 1937, and it is still a building admired by many
architects. Dr. Shanley had been impressed by the modern house displayed at the Century of Progress Exhibition
in Chicago in 1933. While he didn’t want to live in such a structure, he saw its functional potential and
commissioned Armstrong to design his working space. Inspired by the designs of Le Corbusier and Neutra,
Armstrong created a building designed specifically to cope with the problems of the orthodontist. He designed
the furniture, lamps, hardware, light fixtures, and fire tools as well as the structure itself. The building is
characteristic of the International Style, with its undecorated use of projecting and receding cubical masses
and its concrete and glass block. The building was renovated and somewhat altered recently, after it passed
from the ownership of Dr. Shanley’s son, also an orthodontist. It is listed on the National Register and has
received many other honors, but is endangered by the development of downtown Clayton.
This dentist's office building is one of the earliest Modernist buildings in the St. Louis area. Finished in
stuccoed concrete, it strives to achieve a purity of forms -- absolute, unblemished geometric shapes,
overlapping and intertwining.
The building remains in use as office space today. Architect Harris Armstrong was one of the city's
greatest Modernist designers; several of his buildings still dot the cityscape.