Laumeier expansion complete after decade of planning | St. Louis Public Radio

Laumeier expansion complete after decade of planning

Jul 1, 2015

This week marks the end of construction on Laumeier Sculpture Park’s fine arts center. According to park Executive Director Marilu Knode, the entire building was designed to bridge the gap between future indoor exhibits and its already established outdoor collection.

“You know we’re an outdoor park, we don’t need a fancy building we need something that’s like a barn!” she said.

The new building will allow artist to bring large works inside, hang art from the ceiling, and support great weight. Plans to create an indoor space for the primarily outdoor public park began over a decade ago. The new building was begun after Knode’s arrival and the organization broke ties with the initial architects and their design.  Changes were necessary to accommodate economic shifts in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.  The building took $4 million  to complete. According to Knode the design maintains the organization’s mission to privilege site-specific work, while keeping one eye on the past and one on the future.

“We’ve been doing a lot of thinking here about what does landscape mean to people in St. Louis and then how do we reflect that,” she said.

Laumeier's new Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

To that end the building is designed to sit perfectly within the Laumeier campus and faces the old exhibit space recently re-christened The Education Laboratory for Art. The open design and construction will allow the park to exhibit work restricted by the earlier space.

“It was kind of like programing in your grandmother’s house, you can only do things so big or so heavy, you don’t want to collapse the floors of 1917 grandmother’s house,” Knode said. 

The new building is effective because it builds on the mistakes learned during the project’s initial stages, she said. The park will celebrate the building’s construction with a gala.  It will be open to the public in October, 2015.

Construction timeline:

2004 – Laumeier prepares a master plan based on focus group responses suggesting the public wants: a new structure for world class exhibitions, and expanded space for educational programing.

2006 – The park puts out a call for architects and retains Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh +Scarpa) from Santa Monica, CA.

2008 – Economic collapse and previous Laumeier Executive Director leaves.  Project is placed on hold.

2009-10 –  Brooks + Scarpa and previous plans including radiant heat floor and green roof are abandoned.  Local architect Trivers Associates is retained.

2013 – Construction begins on new design.

2015 –Construction is completed.