Architecture

Architecture /

If Our Walls Could Talk

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Full-time working professionals spend much of their lives at the office, and it just so happens that our “work home” at Lawrence Group comes with a quite the history beyond its architectural framework.

Daniel Catlin, a wealthy tobacco magnate and largest holder of downtown business realty, bought the parcel at 319 N. 4th Street in the 1880s and formed a syndicate of important downtown figures to commission a grand office building for the site. They viewed their undertaking as a personal monument expressive of their wealth, status, taste and civic spirit. Named the Security Building, it was constructed in the 1890s by the design of renowned Architects Peabody, Stearns and Furber. It was one of 30 tall office buildings in St. Louis of late 19th Century design, of which few remain today. It survived massive urban renewal programs which removed almost all of the historic 4th Street financial district and remains one of the finest example of office interiors from that era.

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Architecture, Projects /

City Foundry St. Louis: The Backstory

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The City Foundry St. Louis project is prominently located within the central corridor in the former Century Electric Foundry complex. The redevelopment will bring new life to the old foundry; a striking industrial building that features a butterfly monitor pond truss roof structure, giant sand hoppers, cupola melting furnaces, pipes, cranes, soaring factory spaces, massive divided-lite windows, mezzanines, catwalks and offices. Plans by previous owners called for the foundry’s demolition as recently as 2014, which would have forever severed St. Louis’s primary remaining connection to a homegrown and locally significant company, Century Electric.

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Architecture, General /

A Week Down South

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I have always loved being from St. Louis and have always had a lot of civic pride in the city I live in. I have been fortunate enough to live in Kansas City, Missouri and Manhattan, Kansas for school, and travel various places throughout the country, but rarely have I ever made it “down South.” That all changed when I got asked to visit and work in Lawrence Group’s Charlotte office for a week.

The office had a deadline for a new recreation complex and needed some help. I was happy to make the trip and get some valuable experience at another Lawrence Group office. It was easy to sense that southern charm in the small town of Davidson, about 20 miles outside of Charlotte, immediately upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, I got oriented on the project, and we got to work. Over the next week, I worked closely with Dave Malushizky, principal, and Jackie Paulsmeyer, designer, on the project as we hashed out things from reflected ceiling plans to window and door details to interior and exterior elevations. (more…)

Architecture, Projects /

Sun Theater – Revisited – Part 2

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Hello again. This is Part 2 in the highlight of the Sun Theater Historical Restoration. Part 1 can be read here; if you need to catch up, I will wait.

Ok, so now that everyone is all caught up on Part 1. We left off with plaster pieces being extracted from their molds and the site was being prepared for the new pieces to be installed.

So this is what the “dancefloor” on top of the scaffolding looks like. Much of the main structure of the plaster has been repaired and brown-coated. They have a few more coats of finished plaster to install before it is ready to receive the new pieces made off site though. (more…)

Architecture, Inspiration, Projects /

Security Building Mural

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It has been nearly 15 years since Lawrence Group acquired the Security Building in downtown St. Louis and renovated it as our corporate headquarters. Being a native St. Louisan (and one to never turn down the opportunity to hear a good story), I’ve enjoyed learning about the role the Security Building played in St. Louis history. Some of the stories are verifiable, but some of the best ones are not:  Charles Lindbergh signed the financing deal for his historic transatlantic flight in the bar of the Noonday Club on the tenth floor (or did he?); the Security Building actually bests the Wainwright Building as being the first steel frame high rise in St. Louis (or are the dates on the Security Building construction drawings somehow misleading?).

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Architecture, Projects /

Sun Theater – Revisited – Part 1

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Anyone tired of hearing me talk about the Sun Theater Historical Restoration yet? Well tough. But I am going to highlight something that I have not highlighted before. The extensive plaster restoration that took place. This is the most eye popping and jaw dropping part of the restoration (at least that’s what I think!)

Well let’s start with my first visit to the space. Aside from some sunlight coming from a “skylight” (hole in the roof) it was pitch black in the theater. It was clear that the elements had their way for quite some time. We cautiously walked across the stage being careful not to fall through. As we walked into the theater we turned our flashlights on the space and only then did we really understand the magnitude of what we were attempting.

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Architecture /

Designing Forgiveness

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Design perfection requires intentional forgiveness. I am going to let you in on little secret in our profession. We are not perfect!  Okay, well maybe that’s not a secret! We are a peculiar bunch of people with an O.C.D. like complex for perfection. If we had it our way: buildings would always be the right shape and size! Drawings would be the most perfectly clear, complete set of instructions, and contractors would ask ZERO questions, finishing with perfect execution. The end result would be a magnificently crafted building with perfectly plumb and straight walls, all gaps perfect, parallel and pointed.

But unfortunately, that won’t happen. It can’t happen, at least while humans are still involved in construction (remember we aren’t perfect). Here is how I propose we solve that problem so that things turn out “perfectly.” We design in forgiveness. Examples of this idea are evident in almost every product and every design solution. Materials are always imperfect, substrates bowed, corners not square, walls not plumb, and lines untrue. The idea is to accept these imperfections, even embrace them, and provide construction detailing with forgiveness in the design so that when constructed it looks perfectly intentional.

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Architecture /

Parking Beautifully

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Can parking garages be considered beautiful? Is there a way to design parking garages that positively impact the built environment of a city? Every day, I find myself walking past Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis, which is in the middle of construction as part of City Arch River. One garage in particular will be a main backdrop for the new design. With Kiener Plaza getting some much needed attention, it struck me that the parking garages surrounding the plaza are in need of some love as well. It doesn’t have to mean redesigning the whole garage, but instead potentially focusing on the façade and exploring different ways to liven up the design and the spaces it impacts.

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Architecture /

The Long and Winding Road to Licensure

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To become a licensed architect in the U.S, you usually have to meet at least three requirements:

  • Education: Graduate from an accredited architecture program.
  • Experience: Have about three years of relevant work experience.
  • Examination: Pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Some states require a degree from a National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB) accredited program, while others allow “broad experience” as a substitute. Some require work experience to be documented via the Intern Development Program (IDP). Some states allow you to take the ARE only after graduating from an accredited architecture program, while others allow you to take the ARE only after completing IDP, and some require both.

I was living in Reno, Nevada when I landed my first job in 1990 with an architectural firm and started looking into the process. Nevada required a degree from an NAAB-accredited program, participation in IDP, and passing the ARE. Unfortunately, NAAB only provided accreditation to U.S. programs, and I went to college in the Philippines. Fortunately, you can have a foreign education evaluated by Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) to determine if it is equivalent to an NAAB accredited program.

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Architecture, Projects /

A Whale Tale

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No, this is not a story about “the one that got away” or a close encounter with humpback whales while aboard a zodiac raft in Kauai (which actually happened). It is a humble story about a reception desk.

Lawrence Group was engaged by Answers.com to design a new 29,000-square foot interior satellite corporate office space in New York City. The client envisioned a space that integrated interactive media with a progressive design. The energetic and vibrant location in the heart of Midtown suggested a signature presence.

The schematic design process commenced with an analysis of the city landscape and overlooking building views that were offered throughout the floor in coordination with the client’s space needs program. The floor was a blank canvas with the exception of the elevator and restroom cores present. As a result, we had the ability to define the elevator lobby and common area corridors thus controlling the circulation and experience to the new office entrances.

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