East End Transformation
Architects: KieranTimberlake, Tao+Lee Associates, BNIM, Moore Ruble Yudell, Mackey Mitchel, Perkins Eastman, Patterhn Ives
Owner: Washington University in St. Louis
Location: St. Louis
Designed in 1900 by Cope and Stewardson, Washington University’s Danforth Campus in St. Louis was to be a park-like setting where collegiate gothic buildings, landscape quadrangles, and pathways worked in concert to prompt academic connections. However, in the intervening years, the campus’ east end became plagued with roads and parking lots, upending the original planning vision. This project transforms a car-centric site into a welcoming front door to a dynamic campus that emphasizes pedestrians and bicycles.
Each of the new buildings remains faithful to Cope and Stewardson’s original vision, yet they embody a vibrant contemporary approach to materials, technology, and sustainability. All were designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, with three achieving LEED Platinum. Sumers Welcome Center, which hosts the university’s undergraduate admissions and student financial services departments, is the very first stop on campus for visitors and prospective students. The glass-enclosed building offers sweeping views of the university’s compelling Brookings Hall. Directly across from the welcome center is the Schnuck Pavilion, which houses a café, bike hub, and the university’s office of sustainability.
Additional new buildings include Weil Hall, a new home for the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, which boasts flexible and naturally lit lofts that surround a digital fabrication studio and a light-filled central courtyard with a vibrant living wall. An expansion for the university’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, one of the oldest teaching museums in the country, has greatly increased exhibition space for outsized artworks and allows the museum to hang a greater portion of its world-class collection.
Beneath it all, natural light streams into the new underground parking garage, orienting visitors from their cars to their first steps on campus. In increasing access to the campus, the garage also promotes low-carbon transportation through electric vehicle charging stations, designated car-share parking, and a shuttle stop. Perhaps most importantly, the garage has been configured to support a post-private vehicle world. The floor-to-floor heights were increased, and live load capacities expanded beyond conventional design to accommodate a wide range of future academic uses.