WIN Warehouse empowers nonprofits to do more with the resources they have by accepting donations of new products from large corporations, and distributing them to nonprofits for a modest handling fee. When WIN opened its doors in 1992, they occupied a portion of the basement in the massive National Vendors Building #4. The retail space had no windows, and the offices were were tucked into abandoned walk-in coolers. As WIN grew, they expanded into the warehouse, and ultimately purchased the entire building following their landlord’s foreclosure in 2010. With the purchase came the responsibility to become a caretaker of a sprawling building that was debilitating quickly after decades of limited use and neglect.
Built in the 1930s, the National Vendors Building #4 was part of a large complex of manufacturing buildings in North St. Louis. The facility had an office in an art deco wing, featuring rounded windows, stairs, and terrazzo floors, and a vast 150,000 square foot warehouse. Eventually, the entire roof structure over the office needed replacement. Water infiltrated the warehouse, which caused the foundation to twist and settle. The beautiful terrazzo had shifted and cracked.
The WIN team proved to be thoughtful caretakers of this structure at a critical moment in the building’s history. Before SPACE was enlisted to renovate the offices, retail space, and exterior entry, WIN’s commitment was apparent: by dedicating substantial resources to repair the roof deck and foundation, and expand the fire suppression system to protect the entire building, WIN ensured the building would give them more options and possibilities when renovating the interior.
SPACE’s team helped WIN create a cohesive, branded experience for guests and staff alike, both inside and outside the large building. Since it spans an entire city block, identifying the entrance for WIN visitors has always been a challenge. The solution was repurposing an abandoned loading dock and dumpster location, roughly halfway down the length of the building. Glass, steel cladding, and painted metal panels stitch together the existing building with a series of steel fins. The fins create a veil across the new windows, existing brick façade, and historic art deco windows. The careful steel detailing marking the entry is brought inside to influence handrails, millwork, furniture, and fixture design.
Inside, the design team took advantage of the existing masonry openings and the concrete frame to provide wide openings once the former dock was enclosed. The entry is bright and welcoming, and exudes the optimistic spirit of the organization. Featuring large expanses of glass, the offices maintain transparency between the various roles in the organization while creating physical and visual connections to greet members, conduct business, and offer site lines into the entry, retail, and warehouse to reinforce a palpable connection to the community that benefits from their efforts. Site lines are important in the retail store, too: the new member experience is enhanced by visual connections from the airy retail area into the warehouse to see the flurry of activity and inventory at their disposal.
SPACE offered WIN a complete turnkey package in a design-build model. This allowed the design and construction team to work as one to elicit the most value from the budget, thus bringing new life to the building and advancing WIN’s mission to assist other nonprofits.
2019 Most Enhanced Award from Landmarks Association of St. Louis
5100 San Francisco Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63115