Euclid School Adaptive Reuse

Posted on July 15th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by


 

The Euclid School in St. Louis stands four stories above street level and boasts a slate roof, sturdy brick walls and tall windows. It’s hard to miss—a series of bright teal doors mark the entrance. It was built at the end of the 1880’s when construction and brick craftsmanship went hand-in-hand. Needless to say, they don’t make ’em like this anymore. Today the Euclid School remains vacant but full of potential. We’re working with Brinshore Development LLC and Theaster Gates Studio to repurpose the building and a few nearby lots into a combination of 45 apartments and arts/cultural spaces that build strong connections between its tenants and the surrounding community.

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It’s an exciting renovation project, one that is steeped in history. The original construction on the Euclid School (previously named: Washington School) began in the early 1890’s and coincided with a huge boom in the city’s population. St. Louis was considered the fourth largest city in the nation and enrollment in public schools was growing exponentially. At the time, schools stood as an anchor to urban life in their respective neighborhoods. The School Board recognized the importance of well-designed buildings, and called on the region’s best architects to develop the designs.

Original Elevation

Original Elevation

August H. Kirschner designed the first phase of the Euclid School as a one-story, four classroom building intended for expansion. William B. Ittner, notably the most influential architect in American school design (and designer of more than 50 St. Louis public schools and landmark buildings), designed an additional three floors and a new wing for the school. His work is best known for its flexible and functional design. 14-foot ceilings, large classrooms that line the exterior, and an emphasis on natural light and ventilation are characteristic of his schools.

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William B. Ittner: architect of many St. Louis landmarks

The school is located in St. Louis’s Fountain Park neighborhood, just a couple blocks north of its namesake park. The city acquired Fountain Park in 1889 from John Lay, who is credited with laying out the neighborhood in 1857. Back then, the neighborhood was called Aubert Place and was developed as a middle-class streetcar suburb on the edge of the affluent Central West End. Today, tall trees surround the oval shaped park and an eleven foot bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proudly stands. The neighborhood is several blocks north of Delmar Boulevard, a street known as the racial dividing line of St. Louis.

Euclid School Site Context

Euclid School Site Context

Fountain Park Arts Block Site Plan

Fountain Park Arts Block Site Plan

Preliminary feasibility studies explore an allocated number of units reserved for artist residences and imagine possibilities for communal art studios, performance spaces, and artist-driven exhibition space. Early design directions identify opportunities for exterior art installations and community gardens on the adjacent site. The project will benefit from historic tax credits as well as low-income housing tax credits and plans to meet Enterprise Green Communities criteria are also in play.

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The Euclid School is in good hands. Brinshore and Theaster Gates Studio have experience working together on adaptive reuse developments in urban African American neighborhoods. They are currently working with Landon Bone Baker Architects on the Dorchester Artist Housing Collaborative, a project that similarly focuses on bringing art-interested public housing residents and practicing artists together in a 32-unit development featuring a centralized performing arts space. Theaster’s community building projects in the Dorchester neighborhood of Chicago have brought him international acclaim.

Theaster Gates: The Dorchester Projects, Archive House

Theaster Gates: The Dorchester Projects, Archive House

Last week the first community outreach meeting with Theaster, Brinshore, and Euclid School stakeholders was celebrated with an enthusiastic turnout. The thoughtful feedback from all who were involved has set the stage for a successful project.

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