Cannon Design renovates an old power house into a new office
In 2007, Cannon Design purchased the vacant Municipal Power House building in downtown St. Louis-providing all design, development and construction management services for its restoration, renovation and adaptive reuse. A year later, The Power House opened as the new offices of Cannon Design-an investment that represents the firm's confidence in the future of St. Louis. Constructed in 1928, and still occupying an entire city block, the Power House was an original part of the Municipal Service Building-designated a landmark by the National Historic Register.
The space meets Cannon Design's desire for a new way of working: one that is intuitive, flexible and open. The final design floats two separate floor plates above the ground floor inside the tall volume, creating two additional floors and ample collaborative meeting and work spaces for approximately 120 employees. In addition, the design accommodates an elevator shaft, kitchenettes on each floor, and two staircases-all achieved within the historical building envelope. Within that original framework, a model shop and materials library plus a boardroom are carved out of the basement. On the roof, a structure once used to store coal conveyor equipment now houses another boardroom and staff lunchroom. The final design retains the original steel structure: a set of eight columns and trusswork. A new steel system supports the second and third floors, which cantilever out into the ground-floor gallery.
Although the building's exterior shell and original structural steel were fundamentally sound, reuse for a large, thriving design-focused A/E practice required a creative spatial solution that exploited the building's massive volume in spite of its relatively small footprint. It also offered the opportunity to rethink the implications of the physical office environment on the practice, at a time of significant change in the profession at large, and for the regional office specifically-projects of ever-increasing scale, new models of project delivery, and new technologies.
Every component of the interior is new and designed to current life-safety codes and LEED® Gold standards, which status was achieved in July 2009. In pursuit of this achievement, the design team applied an integrated, holistic approach at every stage of the restoration. The design showcases not only the new construction and formal expression, but emphasizes the original character of this historic structure. The interior glazed brick, concrete decks, board-formed concrete walls, and steel support structure are preserved in their natural form as a singular reminder of this robust industrial space. In every space in the structure, the elements of the building's history are part of the aesthetic. The building's "revival style" exterior, featuring tall, arched windows on three street facades and fine terra cotta detailing, has been fully restored.
The revamped Power House features a three-story gallery formed by constructing two partial levels that, combined with the existing two floors and rooftop penthouse, create a total of 32,000 sf of office and conference space designed to facilitate Cannon Design's highly collaborative, team-oriented work approach. The new floors are set back from the building's spectacular preserved arched windows to maintain the building's sense of transparency and volume and to create gallery space for the community as well as for corporate functions. The building also sits on the edge of the Cupples Warehouse District, which, in recent years, has developed as a new office district-bringing new life to another historic part of the St. Louis urban tapestry. External modifications include historically accurate replacement of windows in their original masonry openings and creation of a 3,500 sf urban garden.
The added bonus of occupying the real estate at an important entry point to the downtown district along a major thoroughfare has garnered tremendous value that is priceless in terms of local interest.The PowerHouse is also adjacent to major venues (Busch Stadium and Scottrade Center) which give the building both street presence and ease of access.
The Power House is the recipient of 20+ national and regional design awards, including the 2011 AIA Honors Award for Interior Architecture and both a Green Good Design and an International Architecture Award from the prestigious Chicago Athenaeum. Of those awards, five important regional awards provide validation of St. Louis' positive response to the contributions the Power House has made to the revitalization of the city's downtown district:
St. Louis Construction News and Real Estate Regional Excellence Award for Historic Renovation
Jury Comments:"The ‘ship in a bottle' design and construction reclaimed a long abandoned power plant and brownfield site as a modern, environmentally sensitive office building in a renovated historic skin."
Partnership for Downtown St. Louis Better Downtown Award St. Louis Development Corporation Developer/ Development of the Year Landmark Association of St. Louis Most Enhanced AwardConstruction News and Real Estate, St. Louis Edition Keystone Award
The Power House has also been featured in over a dozen regional, national and international publications, including Azure, Contract, Interiors and Sources, Interior Design, Ecolibrium (Australian ASHRAE`), OnOffice, Canadian Architecture and Design and High Performing Buildings.