4260 Forest Park Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Being in the restaurant business requires an innate ability to pivot quickly in response to challenges. St. Louis’ celebrated farm-to-table restaurant, Vicia, faced COVID by thinking outside the box – they called SPACE. Vicia asked us to design and construct an outdoor seating area that suited their existing space, provided an enjoyable experience for their diners, and fit in with the tech-focused innovation district where the restaurant was located.
Maximizing their outdoor seating space meant embracing an adjacent sloping grass lot. The new structure preserved views for guests inside the restaurant while embodying the contemporary clean nature of the surrounding architecture. Splitting the sloping lot into two levels, divided by a low retaining wall kept a natural flow of traffic and supported distinct seating areas. Taking our cue from the obtuse angle inherent in the retaining wall, the new structure is a continuation of that angle for a cohesive, always-been-there feel.
A simple cantilevered structure creates an expansive, uninterrupted shared space, doubling Vicia’s ability to serve patrons in the future. And more importantly, provided uninterrupted (and safe) service when indoor dining was unavailable.
The lightweight polycarbonate sheet roof allows for abundant diffused sunlight to pass through to diners below, and a large fan creates a gentle breeze for a comfortable dining experience in even the warmest St. Louis weather.
You may notice that there are no gutters or downspouts. In order to honor Vicia’s dedication to the environment and growing many of their own plants, the design includes an intuitive watering system. Without downspouts, all the water flows onto rip rap rock, draining to an underground swale which distributes the water throughout the surrounding planting beds.
These planting beds utilize corten steel, an existing material used throughout the district, again, a visual theme that makes a new space feel intentional. To keep the structure visually clean, uplighting positioned in the landscape beds reflects off the polycarbonate to provide ambient lighting at night, supplemented by tabletop lighting and playful reed-shaped landscaping lights to drive home Vicia’s plant-forward ethos.