St. Louis, Missouri, may be getting a new building or two from Tatiana Bilbao if plans for a new complex move forward. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that an unconventional team of developers has assembled to redevelop a mostly vacant block in the city's Grand Center Arts District. The team plans to recruit other high-profile architects to design housing and amenity spaces. The development's site is a block bounded by Vandeventer Avenue, North Spring Avenue, Olive Street, and an alley on its southern edge. The historic Henry L. Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind sits empty on the site, and the developers have agreed to maintain and refurbish the building's front facade while tearing down the back and repurposing the interior for a "clubhouse" for the development. That renovation is being led by St. Louis firm Axi:Ome. St. Louis's Grand Center Arts District is a historic neighborhood home to many old and new cultural institutions like the Tadao Ando-designed Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Allied Works-designed Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which both stand just a block from the proposed development's site. The development team is led by philanthropist and arts-patron Emily Rauh Pulitzer, who is joined by James Maloney and Owen Development's Steve Trampe, according to the Post-Dispatch. Pulitzer was the force behind the eponymous arts foundation building nearby. Although the team wants to bring big-name designers to the project, they apparently intend to keep the development affordable to middle-income buyers and have stressed that their intention is not to maximize profit but to boost and revitalize the local neighborhood. The budget for the project comes to $30 million, and it will potentially include "23 housing units in 17 buildings as well as an apartment building with 20 or so units," according to an earlier article from the Post-Dispatch, and the developers hope to start construction early next year.
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Progress on the $1.3-billion Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is moving along after delays and a brief developer kerfuffle in December that saw AECOM attempt to win the project back from the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate/SOM team. After soliciting community feedback, the SOM-led design team has released another round of renderings and revealed a more subdued version of the curvy terminal buildings seen previously. Voters initially approved the $1 billion replacement of the aging KCI last November. The clover-shaped airport originally opened in 1972, and its three drive-up, horseshoe-shaped terminals were rendered difficult to navigate following the release of new airport security requirements the same year. SOM’s H-shaped airport will consolidate all three terminals into a single building while keeping the curbside access that Missourians are used to. The original renderings, revealed after Edgemoor and SOM had secured the project, depicted a light, glassy building with a rippling roof and sail-like fins. In the updated designs, the roof has been smoothed out and flattened, a two-story fountain originally located in the departure and arrivals area has been removed, and a 4,500-square-foot lounge for frequent fliers has been added. Instead of the indoor fountain in the check-in area, which SOM removed to speed up arrivals, an outdoor water feature has been proposed for the area in front of the parking garage. A centralized “cul-de-sac” with retail and dining options along with a round performance space has also been replaced with a more rectangular "town square," which will feature local businesses and a teardrop-shaped performing area. The number of bathrooms will more than double, from the current 63 to 130, and SOM has used community feedback to design wide, accessible bathrooms for those traveling with baggage. Seven more community meetings have been scheduled for this September as Edgemoor continues to solicit stakeholder feedback. Demolition of KCI’s Terminal A is currently on hold while the Federal Aviation Administration conducts its environmental assessment, which should be complete sometime in September or October. The airport has already pushed its opening back from November 2021 to fall 2022 as the number of gates has risen from 35 to 39—the KCI currently has 31 gates in operation. While no budget has officially been set yet, the cost estimate has risen from $1 billion to $1.3–$1.4 billion, with the airlines pledging to pay for any additional costs.
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The Summit Technology Academy of the Missouri Innovation Campus, designed by Gould Evans and DLR Group, is a new education facility focused on bridging the gap between the workplace and the classroom. The building houses an innovative educational program developed by the University of Central Missouri, the local Lee’s Summit School District, and area industry participants. The collaborative nature of the program inspired the design team when planning the building’s facade.
There are three primary systems on the facade. The majority of the building is clad with a custom-fabricated metal panel rainscreen across the second and third levels and a curtain wall glazing system between the metal panels. The first level is clad with burnished concrete masonry units and punched windows. In an interview, Sean Zaudke, associate principal at Gould Evans and member of the design team, told AN, “We wanted the facade system to be something that was innovative and simple; something that was very specific to the project.” The metal panel facade was fabricated from standard anodized aluminum coil stock, which was bent diagonally at two locations on each panel. There was only one panel type, which was rotated and mirrored across the building envelope to create a rippling effect that responds to light in different ways. Each panel is ten feet long and two feet wide with a return at the edge so they lock into each other. The dimensions of the aluminum coil stock govern the height of the skin, so the metal facade is twenty-feet in elevation. The metal is a rain-screen system attached to a continuous insulation barrier with a horizontal girt system. At the very beginning of the project, Gould Evans was working with Standard Sheet Metal on the design of the panels. The team started with a series of paper mockup iterations to test different strategies to discover the most efficient panel design. The biggest challenge was maintaining a rectilinear edge while introducing two angular bends. After arriving at a solution, the project team worked with the metal fabricators to optimize the design. At the point where the facade meets the sky, the metal panels are met with custom bent closure panels. These close the building envelope at the back while maintaining its undulating profile. A simpler flat closure panel meets the bottom of the rain-screen system. Additionally, simple metal returns negotiate the joint between the complexity of the bent edge and the straightness of the glass curtain wall. Gould Evans designed the interior to be a flexible, adaptable space so that walls can move to respond to programmatic changes. The design of the curtain wall is adaptable in much the same way. Every piece of the curtain wall integrated into the rainscreen system is the same two-panel module and can be added, removed, or relocated. The system can be adapted as the needs of the educational program evolve.
The recently completed community center in the outer-ring St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, Missouri, has already gathered multiple awards. Designed by CannonDesign, the complex replaces an outdated facility for the community of 27,000. Its sweeping form and landscape are shaped to mediate between the projects diverse public programs and a busy highway. The 92,000-square-foot facility provides a space for athletics as well as a number of other community programs that were held at the previous facility. The new center includes multi-use courts, group exercise rooms, weight and cardio spaces, a cycling studio, an indoor track, and an indoor pool. Additional outdoor spaces were also designed to provide room for recreational events and additional parking. CannonDesign worked with Maryland Heights stakeholders to establish community needs and organize the project's program. Community spaces include multi-use event spaces, a preschool, babysitting area, senior space, meeting rooms, and a police substation. The form of the building and landscape are designed to present the functions of the building to the greater public while shielding the center's users from the sound of a nearby highway. In order to maintain the usable green space around the project, and to separate it from the busy roadway, the landscape was lifted around the building to create an occupiable berm. Much of the building's program was nestled into this landscape, while the curving form of the building shelters the entryway from highway noise. These lower programs, which include the meeting rooms and preschool, have their own private courtyard for light and air. The transparent public-facing facade allows for views into the building, while a translucent triple-walled polycarbonate wall controls light and sound coming into the gymnasium. The most dramatic space may be the light-filled indoor pool, which occupies the curving south end of the building. The Maryland Heights Community Center was a 2016 AIA St. Louis Unbuilt Merit Award winner, as well as the recipient of a 2017 AIA St. Louis Honor Award. In conjunction with the nearby city outdoor waterpark, the center acts as a new civic hub.
For el dorado Principal Josh Shelton, facade design and fabrication are simultaneous, rather than sequential, practices. "el dorado was founded on the premise that design and fabrication were a unified act," he explained. The firm often prototypes or constructs physical components of its project in its in-house fabrication shop. "Our approach to facade design evolves from that hands-on rigor and sense of craft that we've developed over the last 20 years of being a practice," said Shelton. Shelton will participate in the "Materials + Surfaces" presentation block at the upcoming Facades+AM Kansas City symposium with A. Zahner Company's L. William Zahner and Paul Neidlein, of JE Dunn Construction. Shelton is particularly intrigued by opportunities to combine new technologies and traditional materials. As an example, he cites an el dorado project in Denver's LoDo district. Faced with strict contextual constraints, the firm is taking "a very high tech approach to the design of brick facades, using computational design to pixelate bricks," said Shelton. "We're meeting historical guidelines in fresh, innovative ways. We're using a refined sense of craft to take a material that evolved from an artisan material to a very vanilla material, back to a more artisan approach." In Kansas City, noted Shelton, el dorado is not alone in exploring the synergy between design and fabrication. "We've got a deep bench with regard to good architects," he said. "There's also a rich tradition of craft and making. It's on that tradition of great architecture and smart fabrication that we've molded our practice." Hear more from Shelton, Zahner, and Neidlein, plus other experts in facade design, engineering, and fabrication, at Facades+AM Kansas City. Register today on the conference website.
The University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture & Design will be the inaugural recipient of the annual el dorado Prize. The distinction is sponsored by the Kansas City–based architecture firm el dorado as part of its 20th anniversary. Awarded each winter, starting this year, the prize will work with a single university annually to identify high performing students. These students, entering into their final year of school, will be invited to interview for el dorado’s internship summer program. These paid internships will also include an additional stipend as a reward for academic excellence. Each year the prize will go to a different university, with faculty being asked to nominate students. Interns will be versed in the specific way in which el dorado runs its practice. This includes design build and cross-disciplinary design. The pick of Arkansas as the first recipient of the prize was an easy choice for David Dowell, principal at el dorado. “Longstanding relationships with the University of Arkansas faculty and alumni, including staff and collaborators, and a growing body of architectural work in Northwest Arkansas make this inaugural choice a natural one,” remarked Dowell in a press release. The el dorado prize joins in on a long tradition of professional offices running academic programs and scholarships. These include the PGAV Destinations recent support of Washington University’s Alberti Program and the prestigious SOM Prize. Peter MacKeith commented on the importance of the prize to the school, “The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design is pleased to be the inaugural site for the el dorado Prize, an important summer internship program that will stimulate and recognize the excellence of professional architectural education in the Midwest region.”
Less than a year after presenting a design proposal to renovate an empty warehouse into their new national headquarters in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City, local firm BNIM has withdrawn its plans. After a losing battle over tax incentives, the firm and the building’s owner have stated that without the financial support of the city, the project is not economically viable. The proposal by BNIM, the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award winners, was envisioned as a “living” building that would efficiently use water and produce as much energy as it used. As planned, the building would achieve a higher standard than LEED Platinum, something that BNIM has achieved one other time in a built project in New York State. To achieve this level of sustainability, the project was planned to utilize numerous novel technologies and techniques, including a greenhouse to help with water management and a solar array used for energy, passive water heating and cooling, and shade. Also serving as a space for professional and academic education the firm described the project as “a global laboratory for quality sustainable design.” The firm would have used the top two floors of the 43,000 square foot building while the bottom floor was slated for retail, commercial, and office space. With the support of the mayor and city council, the $13.2 million project was hoping to utilize $5.2 million from the cities Tax Incentive Finance Committee (TIF). A hotbed issue in many cities, social justice activists and concerned Kansas City School District parents opposed the incentives going to the project, stating that too much money would be diverted from public schools. Understanding the concerns of residents, BNIM and the city attempted to negotiate and reformulate the proposal and incentive package to accommodate the resistance. The decision to provide the TIF money was to be voted on as a ballot initiative. By gathering petition signatures, opponents were able to stop the measure from even being added to the ballot, effectively killing the possibility of the money being released. BNIM has stated that its is still committed to staying in Kansas City, and will now be looking for a new office space as current projects require growth in the coming year.
St. Louis–based SPACE Architecture + Design has release a series of renderings for a speculative Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium for downtown St. Louis. This proposal comes in the wake of news that the NFL’s St. Louis Rams football team would be leaving St. Louis for Los Angeles, and subsequently not building a new stadium along the Mississippi River. Sports buzz has picked up again about a possible MLS team making its home in the city. Since the news that the city would be losing the professional football team, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and State Governor Jay Nixon have continued to discuss the possibility of an expansion team in St. Louis. SPACE initiated the discussion of what a major league stadium would look like within their office two years ago when rumors of MLS’s interest in the city started to spread and fans began grassroots efforts to attract a team. In a discussion with AN, Alex Ihnen of SPACE explained the office’s motivations behind preemptively presenting the city with a stadium plan. “We think too often politicians and people who are excited think about money, they think about how we are going to pay for this, where do the taxes come from," he said. "That is their domain, but our domain as architects is to figure out how can this add to the city, which is bigger. It is important to get out ahead of this” The offices proposal involves a sunken field directly south of the historic Union Station. Union Station itself is under redevelopment. Located along Clark Street, SPACE envisions its proposal as a part possible downtown sports corridor, which would include the Major League Baseball Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Scottrade Center, home of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues. And though the proposal is an unsolicited speculation, the discussion of funding a stadium is already being taken seriously by state legislators. A ballot initiative has been presented by State Rep. Keith English to incur a one tenth of one percent sales tax in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The bill is written as to try and avoid a similar fiasco as the current Rams stadium, Edward Jones Dome, which has not been fully paid for despite the team leaving the city.
One of the nation’s oldest engineering societies is set to remodel its St. Louis Mid-Century Modern home. The 65-year-old building of the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis will be getting a much needed renovation by the local design and planning firm Remiger Design. As an organization, the 150 year old Engineers’ Club of St. Louis has over 1,000 members. Along with the Engineers’ Club, the club’s building is home to over 30 other affiliated groups, representing over 14,000 engineers, architects, and other building tradespeople from the St. Louis region. Once the renovation is complete the building will become known as the Engineering Center, changing from the Engineers’ Club, to better represent the diverse set of organizations that it houses. Situated in St. Louis’s Central West End, the building was built in 1958 by St. Louis' noted mid-century modernist firm Russell, Mullgardt, Schwarz and Van Hoefen. With its distinctive roofline and car-centric design—the main entrance faces the parking lot on the back of the building—the new design will keep some of the old while updating particular aspects for more contemporary uses. From the exterior, notable changes will include the moving of the entrance, new cladding, and an extended patio with updated landscaping. Along with the building’s angular roofline, its Modernist parapet detailing will be preserved. The interior of the building will see the greatest changes, including a complete remodel of the auditorium. By leveling the current slopped seating area the space will be converted to a more flexible meeting area. Other spaces will be converted to seminar rooms to facilitate the clubs S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math) youth education programs. Planned to be phased over the coming years, construction on will begin spring 2016 “Designing this renovation project for the Engineering Center is a unique opportunity for us to work directly with an organization that has made historically significant contributions to the profession of engineering,” remarked Vern Remiger, president of Remiger Design in a statement to the press. Remiger Design is also heavily involved with the renovation of the park around the St. Louis Gateway Arch, with Vern Remiger acting as the Design Team Manager for the CityArchRiver organization.
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis have announced three finalists for the second iteration of the design-build PXSTL competition. The three finalist were culled from a list of 35 artist, architects, and designers, who were solicited by the organizer. The list includes: —Randstad, NL and Istanbul-based architects Merve Bedir and Jason Hilgefort —New York/Houston-based artist Mary Ellen Carroll —Chicago-based architect Amanda Williams and artist/educator Andres L. Hernandez Canopy of the 2014 PXSTL structure. (David Johnson) All of the finalist will travel to St. Louis in mid-February to conduct detailed site analysis and give public presentations on their previous work and interest in PXSTL. The winner will be announced in March. Along with an $80,000 budget to complete the project, the winner will teach an architecture studio as visiting faculty at the Sam Fox Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Planning in Fall 2016 semester. With commentary from community stakeholders, cultural organizers and local artist, the winner will work with their students to develop the project over the semester. PXSTL (an acronym for Pulitzer, Sam FoX School, and ST. Louis) is a competition for a design-build commission to build a temporary structure on an empty lot near the Pulitzer Art Foundation in the Grand Center arts district. The fist iteration of the PXSTL was completed in 2014 by the Brooklyn-based Freecell Architecture. Their project comprises of a large canopy under which dance, music, and community events were held throughout the summer of 2014. This year’s competition will conclude in the pavilion construction in spring of 2017 and community programing through the summer of 2017. The goal of PXSTL is in engage the community with small-scale intervention to encourage urban transformation. As part of this, the public will have a chance to offer feedback in public forums to be held in the fall. “Since its founding, the Pulitzer has been dedicated to creating opportunities for art and culture to have a positive impact on the broader St. Louis community. As PXSTL demonstrates, this means working closely with and listening carefully to both our community and cultural partners.” Remarked Cara Starke, director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, in a press release.
Washington University in St. Louis' Alberti Program for youth architecture has been given a major boost from the St. Louis–based design and planning firm PGAV Destinations in the form of a pledge of $125,000 and volunteer time. https://player.vimeo.com/106140248 The Alberti Program, started in 2006, is administered by the Sam Fox School’s College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design, and engages students in fourth through ninth grade from regional schools. With a focus on architectural problem solving and sustainability, the program’s goal is to reach the most diverse demographic of students possible. So far the program has worked with students from 145 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the St. Louis area. Of those, one third of the schools are located in communities with per capita yearly income of less than $18,000. Free to participants, program runs on weekends throughout the academic year and on weekdays during a summer session. The contribution form PGAV will provide new resources to students, and insure the program can continue to operate at no cost to participants as it is distributed over the next five years. PGAV Destinations specializes in cultural and amusement design, with projects ranging from aquariums and museums to theme parks and casinos. The pledge from PGAV is part of the offices 50th anniversary, and will include dedicated volunteer time from the offices designers along with the monetary contribution. The volunteer time will include guest speaking, office visits to the firm's St. Louis headquarters, as well as classroom instruction. Along with general support for the program the $125,000 will help with costs associated with field trips, lecturers, and executing hands-on projects produced by the students.
In what has become a recurring irony, the poor taste of 20th century corporations has been saving the day for historic buildings across the country. Now as companies like Walgreens and CVS rehabilitate dilapidated banks into drugstores, St. Louis might be getting its first look in decades at a historic Isamu Noguchi designed ceiling hidden above a drop ceiling in what's now a U-Haul truck rental warehouse. Unbeknownst to many, what currently appears to be a clumsy brick and metal paneled warehouse at 1641 South Kingshighway Boulevard in St. Louis, is actually a gem of mid-century Modernism. The building that now holds the U-Haul storage and rental center was originally designed by St. Louis architect Harris Armstrong in 1947 as the headquarters for the Magic Chef American Stove Company. The structure was hailed as a masterpiece of International Style design, which included an ornate curvilinear lobby ceiling designed by none other than the famed Isamu Noguchi. It was not long before Magic Chef would move away and the building would become a clinic established by the Teamsters Union. Eventually left empty in the late 1960s, U-Haul, the current owners, would come to acquire the building in the late '70s. U-Haul would subsequently attempt to repair the now-decaying building and bring the space up to code, though with little-to-no mind towards preserving the aesthetics or architectural features of the building. It would be these very same inexpensive, and sometimes incomplete, fixes that would eventually be the saving grace of the building. Now, at least 20 years since a drop ceiling was added—covering the Noguchi designed ceiling—and metal paneling was added to the exterior of the building—covering its glass facade—it seems that at least some of the building will be returned to its former glory. As reported by local public radio station 90.7 KWMU, U-Haul is planning to uncover the figural ceiling in the spring of 2016. This news comes as a relief to many that remember the original space, believing the ceiling had been destroyed. And though U-Haul has made no indication that they would be restoring the entire building, this move makes it clear that the building could someday be restored. According to circuit court documents from the early '90s, it is very likely that the original windows are still under the metal paneling that now covers the building. In the 1980s, U-Haul was attempting to stop leaking windows with caulk to no avail. As an affordable solution, metal paneling was installed as a rain screen and a visual barrier into the building which holds customers’ stored items. This solution was not immediately accepted by the city’s Building Commission and Heritage Commission, and a series of hearings and appeals were held before the company was allowed to proceed with installation. The Heritage Commission called the plan no less than grotesque in their recommendation to stop the panels from being installed. "The proposed siding will create a design which is not compatible with the style and design of surrounding improvements and which is not conducive to the proper architectural development of the community. The proposed siding would also constitute an unsightly, grotesque or unsuitable structure in appearance, detrimental to the welfare of the surrounding property and residents." Though St. Louisans won’t be getting back their Modernist oven store just yet, it is encouraging that U-Haul is recognizing the worth of a designed space. With every uncovered ceiling or facade, the city gets one step closer to having a piece of its once lost architectural history back.