A senior design professional in HOK’s St. Louis studio, Brian Temple documents his city with the goal of inspiring others.
Brian Temple has a childhood memory of driving around his hometown of St. Louis. His parents are in the front of a green Honda Accord. Brian is in the backseat staring out the windows and wondering about each passing building, landmark and marquee: “What is that? Why is it there? What’s its story?”
This curiosity in the places that shape his city would eventually lead Brian to earn a master’s degree in architecture. It also provided the impetus for his new book, “Product of STL,” that shares in words and photos a side of St. Louis many may overlook.
“I wanted to give back to St. Louis, the city I love. St. Louis often gets a bad rap, but it has a lot to offer.”
So it was that Brian borrowed a camera from a friend and went out to document the things he loved about St. Louis. Those places and their stories now can be found in his book, which arrived from the printer in January and has already been featured in local news coverage.
There’s the 34-foot-tall bottle advertising the local Vess soda, a mile-long graffiti wall along the riverfront, an Art Deco movie theater in its 81st year of operation (where Brian first saw “Men in Black” and countless other films), and a shuttered Hostess plant that would send the aroma of fresh bread and Twinkies wafting over Brian’s North St. Louis neighborhood.
“These places are important to me and, in my opinion, worth celebrating even if they’re not found on tourist maps,” said Brian. “A lot of my friends are transplants to St. Louis. They have this notion that they’ll work here for a few years and then leave. I see this book as a way to hopefully retain all these great people by showing them there are many stories and sites in St. Louis to see, explore and discover.”
Brian serves as an ambassador for St. Louis in other ways, too. He’s an active member of the Friends Board of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis, which raises money to provide after-school programming and services to children in need. He’s on the board of Trailnet, a nonprofit that advocates for safe, active transportation networks in St. Louis. And he believes in opening doors for others like him.
As he has done the past three years, last month Brian traveled to Tuskegee University to introduce students to opportunities at HOK.
“Diversity is important in all professions and particularly in the technical industries like architecture where African Americans are underrepresented,” said Brian. “It’s always great to talk to architecture students about the profession and HOK. It’s even better to reach them before they get to college.”
Like when they’re starry-eyed kids in the back of their parents’ car.
Brian dedicated “Product of STL” to his younger brothers, ages 13 and 18. In the forward he writes: “To Jordan and Bryson, you can do anything that you put your mind to. I hope this book inspires you to find a passion and pursue it to the fullest.”