Lewis Center Arts Hub
Brief: A prestigious university had developed a number of successful co-working spaces for their medical, business, undergraduate, and entrepreneurial students. How might a historically arts-focused complex become a destination for interdisciplinary creative work off campus?
Process: User research, site observation, stakeholder interviews, and a leadership workshop led to a redesign of the facility, complete with programming, furniture selection, local artist collaboration and color scheme in a new aesthetic.
Outcome: Comprehensive design and documentation of a co-working space specifically for artists. Conceptual design through construction documents, color scheme, furniture package, precedent studies, schematic design report.
Role: Project Architect, User Researcher, Interior Designer, Graphic Designer, 3D Renderer, VR Pilot, Strategist
Read more about the design process of the Lewis Center below,
or check out more of my work samples:
Lewis Center Arts Hub, Washington University
The Lewis Center is a historic building north of the Washington University main campus, located in University City, Missouri. It was originally constructed in 1909 as a women’s school of art, becoming a junior high and high school in the 1930s, and has always nurtured experimentation within its walls. In the 1980s, an affordable housing developer converted a large portion of the complex into residential units. Most recently, WUSTL has housed a few of their Sam Fox School classes here, including architecture, landscape, and MFA studios. Living units were discontinued in 2015 but remain a strong program element for the building’s renovation. Protected by the state historic preservation office, this complex multi-phased project has a long legacy of arts programming. Today, the university’s off-campus housing division, in tandem with an alumni entrepreneur aimed at developing creative co-working spaces, are transforming the Lewis Center into an original, imaginative live-work arts hub for the St. Louis community. At 96,000 GSF, it will contain 110 units, a coffee shop, double-height co-working hub, community kitchen, living room lounge, roof terrace and two lush courtyards.
St. Louis has a lively arts landscape, startup incubation, and architectural salvage scene. It is this culture of creative resourcefulness, backed by the innovation powerhouse of the university that we aim to amplify at the Lewis Center. Furthermore, its unique location near the end of the Delmar Loop, an active food & retail strip, gives purpose to both a continuation of an Arts Corridor, connecting COCA, and the 503 Music building, as well as bridges the gap in a historically divided city by extending WUSTL services north of Delmar Blvd.
Design & Curation
The success of this project depends on the type of culture it can build with a unique blend of residents and commercial tenants. As with any new center of activity, a program manager must lead the brand, organize events, and help establish the lifestyle.
For two years, Design Partner, Anne Schopf and I worked through conceptual design of the Lewis Center, traveling to St. Louis to better understand the local community, WashU culture, site constraints, and tenant expectations. Together, we interviewed 8 different stakeholder groups, toured comparable co-working ventures, designed and facilitated a predesign workshop, and developed the architectural concept and interiors for all non-residential spaces in two phases. I curated and produced all of the final deliverables for our scope of work, from printed conceptual design books, illustrated meeting minutes, synthesis, brand briefs, to material boards, precedent imagery, renderings, initial FFE selections, and client presentations. As a project architect, I coordinated with St. Louis consultants and the architect of record to issue construction documents through Phase 1.
Color Design & Materiality
As a historic building with many past lives, it was important to the client to find an aesthetic direction that inspired users to make and stood for originality, and new beginnings. In the galleries below, you’ll find three aesthetic concepts and corresponding color palettes that set different tones for the non-residential spaces- from vibrant and provocative to quiet and refined. We presented these mood boards with precedent imagery for client feedback and overall design direction.
Building as Canvas
My main design focus became the central co-working space. Using Revit and the rendering plug-in Enscape, we were able to show the building with large scale murals on the floors and walls. Concept art is by my friend, artist Emily Eisenhart. All rights on the artwork shown in these renderings are reserved by the Emily Eisenhart.
This project was created in collaboration with my colleagues at Mahlum Architects in Seattle: Anne Schopf (Design Direction), Anne Roderer (Project Management), in Portland: Jason Manson (BIM & Rendering Support), & Roy Abdun-Nur (FF&E); our partner firm, Architect of Record the Lawrence Group in St. Louis: Tim Rowbottom, Greg Trost, & Cole Hoffarth.