Wolfner Redevelopment

Site: St. Louis, MO, United States

Status: Schematic Design

Program: Residential|Commercial

Client: Olive West Development

The Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind was originally built as the Lindell Exchange for the Bell Telephone Company, designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge and constructed in 1898.  The second, southern building, was designed by Mauran, Russell & Garden and built in 1904.  In 1938 the buildings were repurposed and put into service as the first library for blind and the largest braille book collection, aside from the Library of Congress, in the United States.  From the 1950’s thru 1970 the library served as a community gathering space for the blind and eventually for all physically handicapped peoples.The surrounding landscape of the Wolfner Library is to be integrated with the master plan developed by Tatiana Bilbao Studios. Various mini courtyard gardens with a large communal pool and amenities function as the public urban landscape for the residential community.The Wolfner Memorial Library will be transformed into a new club house for the Olive Street Development project in the Grand Center neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri.  The main design goal is to create a focal point within the community that brings vibrant energy while serving as a gathering place to foster new and old relationships. The multi-level garden space at the south façade respects the history of the old courtyard, that served as an area of respite to the many occupants of the telephone company, library and community center.  The design incorporates various microclimatic conditions such as solar and terrestrial radiation, wind, air temperature, humidity, and precipitation making it more thermally comfortable thus encouraging outdoor activities.