UMSL in Grand Center

Site: St. Louis, MO, United States

Status: Built

Program: Cultural|Educational

Client: University of Missouri-St. Louis

The University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL) academic building and public radio station is located in Grand Center, the arts district of St. Louis. Adjacent to Channel Nine KETC public television station, the new building creates a gateway connecting local and international art institutions to public media.  The building was designed with primary consideration to urban strategies.  Sitting to the east of the television station, the building has three accessible facades with a public media plaza between the two media institutions and pedestrian circulation to the north, east and south.  The massing of the building responds to urban relationships.  A cantilever on the southwest façade marks a threshold to the media plaza from Lindell Boulevard and St. Louis University to the south.  The saw-tooth façade on Olive Street allows for extensive east/west views of downtown, the clock tower on St. Xavier College Church, the garden terrace of St. Louis Art Museum, and the urban density of the Central West End neighborhood.  In addition, the saw-tooth overhangs a fully glazed lobby in order to provide shadow and scaled enclosure for pedestrians walking along Olive.  As Grand Center reconsiders its urban strategies, several future entry points to the arts district are marked by the building’s façade.  In relationship to the media plaza, the ground floor houses two open areas (a multi-purpose room for events and broadcasts, and a “living room” academic space for learning media) with direct access to the plaza. The multi-purpose room directly relates to the Channel Nine television production studio across the plaza. The academic area faces towards St. Louis University.  The large volume of the radio station production area is on the third floor, northwest corner of the building. This volume cantilevers to mark a covered terrace, ideal for viewing the large media projections on KETC’s east façade.  Programmatically, this relationship also works to contain the acoustic-sensitive environments in mass, with construction details creating a physical separation between this volume and the adjacent newsroom floor, with university academics below.  Visual sight lines allow the radio production studios to work in collaboration, while edit rooms are located at the core of the building to join studios and newsroom.  Offices also bound the newsroom and radio station administration open floors to create synergetic work environments.  The interior is an orchestration between separate and shared spaces for academics and the workings of a public radio station.  With large media production areas for students on the ground floor and classrooms and conference rooms on the second floor, the new UMSL building promotes exchanges of public media at many scales and modes of delivery.