Inspiration is everywhere; you just have to find it from the words of your favorite poet to the leaves of a beautiful fall day that might drive your imagination to another world. As a designer, I translate my inspirations to concepts that lead a design of a space. What inspires me you might ask? Nature plays a huge role in my inspiration. A hike to the mountains opens my imagination to a whole new level. The beauty of how each rock is formed and the breeze that comes through any lookout just instantly creates an idea in my head for what might become a ceiling design, a floor pattern, or even a feature wall design.
Each month we are highlighting three of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. We are hoping this gives you a glimpse into the people of Lawrence Group.
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…)
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…)
“I’m not really a fan of parks. Very noisy, barbeque smell all of the time.” – Parks and Rec TV show
If you were asked about the places of note in St. Louis, what places would first come to mind? Some people might automatically conjure images of the Old Courthouse, Busch Stadium, or City Museum. Others may consider iconic structures such as the Wainwright Building, the Gateway Arch, or the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I would venture to say that few people would suggest our St. Louis parks as notable places in the city. But they are! If you look at a map of the city, it is speckled with green space, most of which is kept up and regulated by the city. In fact, St. Louis boasts over 100 parks to its 62 square miles – almost two parks for each square mile.
I took an afternoon and drove through the southeast part of St. Louis to get familiar with some of the parks and what features made each one unique. I started with Lindenwood Park, which is approximately three blocks by two blocks of space located near Maplewood. The park is pristinely manicured, like most green spaces in this part of town, but lacked tree coverage. In fact, its sign names it the “Sunshine Garden,” but all the same, it could be a scorcher on a sunny day! It contains a jungle gym for children of all ages, several soccer fields and – wait for it – a skating rink.
When Lawrence Group moved from Lafayette Square to downtown St. Louis in 1992, my mother, Martha Ohlemeyer, presented me with a painting of the Old Courthouse that still hangs on the wall in my office. She painted it over the course of a few days (which still blows my mind), thinking it important that our new office have some artwork representative of downtown. She did it as an homage to one of her favorites, Fred Conway, who she studied under at Washington University in the 1940’s. Look him up and you’ll see the inspiration. She credits him in the upper right corner. It was he who steered her to fine art rather than commercial art. Always practical, her idea had been to be a magazine illustrator. He convinced her otherwise. She enjoyed a prolific career of painting and sculpting in multiple media, teaching, showing and occasionally selling. Selling her work was never a goal, though it was certainly nice when it happened. Her art was just what she did. She never bragged about her talent, but was very comfortable knowing she had it. She worked hard at it and enjoyed it and, in the process, inadvertently made my childhood mid-century modern.
A lot of my school breaks as a kid were spent hanging out with mom and her art friends either at the Artist’s Guild when it was next door to Soldan High School, at one of her friend’s homes or maybe even accompanying them on a plein air outing. I had no idea of the culture rich environment I was immersed in, I was just enjoying it for what it was and soaking it in unawares. If I didn’t have my own coloring books or modeling clay, they’d give me scraps of ‘the real stuff’ to play with. Among her friends was Ruth Schweiss, an art school classmate who had gone on to study at Cranbrook under Carl Milles (sculptor for the fountains in front of Union Station and the Climatron). She created the ballerina sculptures in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. The Schweiss family lived in a house designed by Bernoudy-Mutrux. As a kid, I remember always liking the house because it had lots of cubbies, nooks and crannies and windows that were somehow different than anything I had seen anywhere else. I had no idea I was moving about a mid-century modern classic work of art. It was just a fun place to play.
I am not a big fan of waking up super early, especially at 5:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning. However, I recently decided to do something I had never done before — volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (HFH). Lawrence Group was set to have its “build day,” and I figured I would give it a shot. So after convincing my fiancé to join me, a group of LGers young and old made our way to North St. Louis to work on a series of small houses for the local community.
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?).
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.
I have been fortunate enough to live in several different US cities. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent a summer in Memphis over a decade ago, suffered through a couple winters in Chicago and then ventured to perpetually sunny Las Vegas to finish college. I spent two years enjoying Los Angeles, and since January I find myself nestled here in St. Louis. Throughout all of the change, however, one thing has remained constant – I love to cycle, and there is nothing that could get me off my bike. I bike for fun, for exercise, for transportation and for competition.