Washington University Study Aligns with ULI Building Healthy Places
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Following a year of focus around the global ULI theme of “Building Healthy Places,” Downtown STL, Inc., in partnership with ULI St. Louis, convened a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to reimagine a healthy use for the Railway Exchange Building – one of our city’s largest (vacant) office buildings in the very center of downtown St. Louis.
ULI has a reputation for tackling difficult projects and arriving at recommendations that can transform the community. The challenges posed by the redevelopment of this vacant 1.2 million square foot building are such that a TAP provided the technical and professional expertise and community and civic attention that a redevelopment of this nature would require.
In this instance, the building owner has conducted market studies identifying at least two viable potential uses for portions of the building. With these studies in hand, the developer asked ULI St. Louis to answer the following questions:
To answer these questions, ULI formed the TAP panel, bringing together the professional expertise of design, development, historic redevelopment, institutional and civic leadership: Chip Crawford, Forum Studio; Andy Trivers, Trivers Associates; John Shreve, Populous; Tyler Meyr, Forum Studio;Wendy Timm, Enhanced Value Strategies, Inc.; Larry James, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP; and Hank Webber, Washington University in St. Louis.
The resulting recommendations involved a mix of uses that meet a variety of market needs in downtown St. Louis,
including market-rate residential uses, hotel options, innovative office space, retail and recreational uses. There were also several areas of the building where shared amenities would be carved out and featured, which included a ballroom, pool, sky bar and restaurant on the top floor and fitness facilities and rec space on the lower floors.
Of particular note was the interplay between the historic nature of the existing facade – and the need/requirement to maintain the building facade – and the need to bring more of the outside in. Opening or coring out additional floors within the atrium, pulling walls back within space to create ‘exterior’ space open to the elements, and placing vertical pocket parks – for both recreation and connection between floors – were some of the more interesting and unusual ideas presented.
The final, printed TAP report will be published in July and posted on the TAP page of this site. For questions in the interim or for more information about the ULI St. Louis Technical Assistance Panel process, please contact TAP Co-chairs Mark Levin or Amy Hamilton.
This TAP was initiated jointly by ULI St. Louis and Downtown STL, Inc. and was funded via an Urban Innovation Grant from the ULI Foundation.