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Spring Street School

This was a crusty old bread factory. Now it’s a school.

We transformed the long-vacant Colonial Bakery Facility into a light and bright learning laboratory for 1,200 children from kindergarten through the eighth grade. The open and inviting tensile-fabric entrance canopy welcomes students into the renovated building. Our architects used the building’s renovation to serve as a silent teacher. We connect students to the building’s physical elements: columns labeled with structural loads; exposed mechanical ductwork; display partitions clad in Plexiglas to show framing and electrical runs; and exposed ductwork labeled with air velocity, volumes, and destinations. Where a new communicating stair was cut into the existing structure, we didn’t cover the shaft with painted drywall.

Instead, the design celebrates this feat by exposing the concrete saw cuts and rebar to better illustrate the building’s structure. The new gymnasium was created by demolishing almost one quarter of the third floor, including the floor, walls and roof. The design features a translucent wall which floods the gym with diffused natural light. The wall projects outward to serve as a light beacon and secondary entrance for evening events. The green rooftop design (to be built at a future date) includes outdoor botanical classrooms and a greenhouse that students operate and maintain, irrigated with rain water runoff.

2008 distinguished award in architecture from the St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Architects.