The Fall 2016 graduate architecture studio, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas, explored the urban context of the International Institute of St. Louis’ former building on South Grand Boulevard, which is currently vacant, proposing adaptive reuse projects that include market-rate, affordable, and refugee housing, as well as creative programs to serve the surrounding neighborhood.
The surrounding neighborhoods are economically and racial diverse, and the South Grand Business District, just a few blocks north, is already known as an international hub. Students worked to understand the urban context of the site through historical, demographic, and spatial research. They also met with key neighborhood stakeholders, including elected officials, residents, business owners, and community activists who shared the opportunities and challenges for the neighborhood and the site. Each student identified a particular need for the community, and developed an adaptive reuse proposal based on the specific need.
The students’ work was exhibited at the site, and a public presentation of the work shared the inspiration and ideas from the studio with stakeholders and potential developers. The studio also produced a book, summarizing their research and the proposals, as a reference for IISTL as they pursue future development of the building.