A repeat client with a vacant lot on a prominent street, wanted a notable architectural design for their company headquarters along with programmatically supportive tenant spaces. Our design strikes a balance between highly functional, cost-effective construction and notable architecture to align with their top-tier reputation.
The client’s goals include maximizing the buildable footprint and creating a strong dialogue between the building and the active street life. The building is sited on axis of a prominent retail corridor which hosts high foot traffic and regular street fairs. To capitalize on its strategic siting, 360-degree views from the office and tenant space as well as from the roof became a priority. The vertical programming includes first-floor retail, second floor single tenant commercial, and a full roof deck with food and beverage service.
Key elements of the final design include the roof deck with associated exterior staircase and a sunscreen facade system. The layered facade creates visual interest while also offering privacy and shading. The sunscreen extends at one end of the building to create a protected exterior circulatory zone for accessing the roof deck and extends vertically beyond the 2-story massing to add height to the building’s low-rise proportions. The visual extension of the building’s height helps create a better contextual fit with the neighboring 3 and 4-story buildings.
The occupiable roof deck offers a unique vantage point for visitors and a highly desirable amenity to tenants. The layered facade allows for direct views to the street while offering fall protection and a sense of enclosure. An overhead roof partially covers the roof deck to allow for protected circulation and year-round use.
Three facade systems were examined, contrasting cost, aesthetics, and installation ease. The terra cotta sunscreen was chosen for its Art Deco resonance, reflecting St. Louis’s history of terra cotta production.
TERRA COTTA SCREEN
Terreal Zonda XL and Piterak XS terracotta systems were evaluated. With their vibrant color palette and unique texture, these options provide an opportunity to echo the grandeur of the Art Deco era, lending a historic richness to the overall design.
MidAmerica Precast’s customizable concrete panels were also considered. This option offers easy customization with a one-stop shop supplier/engineer partner. The prospect of crafting designs reminiscent of the iconic decorative panels added considerable appeal.
Facil Facade’s extruded aluminum system presents an economical alternative to terra cotta baguettes while still offering a range of color and pattern choices.
Making the Most of the structure
In the construction industry, innovation and tradition often engage in a delicate dance. At MIN+, we’re poised uniquely at this intersection, with our roots in both the progressive building methodologies of the Bay Area and the enduring architectural sensibilities of the Midwest. This dichotomy enables us to deliver progressive design aesthetics from the West Coast to our Midwest clientele, offering them the opportunity to lead the region in architectural design and technologies. For this project, we saw opportunity to introduce mass timber construction as both cost competitive and as a design statement. Despite this structural system’s proliferation and proven success across the US, new mass timber buildings are still a rarity in St. Louis.
To prove viability, we worked with the contractor to evaluate three distinct structural system alternatives: mass timber, pre-cast concrete, and traditional stick-frame. Each was assessed in terms of cost, schedule and suitability for the project size. At the time of pricing, the mass timber structure was the clear winner with the added benefit of creating a distinctive interior inherent to mass timber construction. The exposed wood structure imbues the interiors with a unique charm, reminiscent of the heavy timber warehouses and industrial buildings that are both familiar and treasured in St. Louis.
Integrating CLT floor panels with glulam columns and beams, this system promises quick erection time with expansive open spans. When left exposed, the mass timber lends an unmatched aesthetic and proved to be the most cost-effective option.
Comprising hollow core concrete floor slabs, and precast columns and beams, this system offers large interior spans and quick and reliable erection time. Additionally, the precast structure can be paired with a precast facade system.
The traditional method of utilizing light gauge frame walls with a steel structure to meet the open floor plan requirements offers the most familiar approach. Aesthetically, this is the most generic option and logistically, it’s the longest to construct due to everything being site built.