LIVE, WORK, PLAY: Renovation and Repurposing of Vacant Office to Mixed Use Co-Living Housing

by Keunyoung Lim (MArch ’19)


Having complicated urban problems, St. Louis functions as a mirror stage of modern American cities, implying an alternative for the urban issues. Specifically, project Live, Play, Work addresses a solution for the inner-city decline within the population-decreasing city, St. Louis. Along with the decline of manufacturing industry, white flight to the metro area accelerated a decrease in population of the city. However, a majority of the job is concentrated in the central area of the city. Consequently, many people are suffering from a daily commute from a long distance. As people live there and work here, the nighttime population is less than 35 percent of the daytime population. Consequently, the downtown district becomes a ghost city in the night. Lack of resident results in a lack of tax revenue, and subsequent depression of the city. Alongside the demand for housing for long commuters, current economic growth in the information and technology and fashion industry in the central city requires more supply of housing for young single-families. Young single people are flocking to STL from around the world to reshape industries and innovate new products and ideas. a significant number of young workers for the innovation community requires the house in the downtown area. Therefore, this project suggests a renovation and repurposing the existing vacant office into a mixed-use of the co-living housing.

Part-time Living

Inspired by “hot-racking system” of the submarine where sailors share bunks and sleep in shift, this project suggests a24/7 use of the buildings in the downtown area. There are a lot of vacant office buildings in the downtown area. As a redundant property, it should be adaptively reused following two guidelines. First, instead of mere changing of office to housing, it suggests maintaining half of the office programs, adding renovating the rest into housing programs because the building will be empty in the daytime if it becomes a housing only buildings. As mentioned above, it accommodated office, living and proper commercial programs inside the building. Co-living housing is occupied by long commuters from the metro areas or other cities during the weekdays and is used for travelers like an Airbnb over the weekend.

Horizontal Division

4242 Grove Street building is currently occupied by 45 percent. This project proposes a horizontal juxtaposition of office and living program, adding commercial on the ground level to provide better space than the existing stacked mixed-use buildings. As the program division happens horizontally, the construction is also easy and fast. Tearing down the half part and putting commercial, retails and co-living community space, and housing programs. Housing is made of a prefabricated modular system thus it takes fast-tracking, design-build project delivery. It takes less than 6 months of on-site construction.

Commute= Natural Wonder or Technological Delight

Primarily this project suggests one to live, work, and play in the near areas to make the quality of life better. The mostsignificant change in one’s life this project suggests is the commuting way. Rather than omitting the commuting time, it justedits the commuting experience providing 2 main options: Commute is natural to wonder or a technological Delight. The time one spends on commuting has not changed, but the quality changed. people have various options of circulation, ranging from express by elevator taking only five minutes to thirty minutes walkway. First main commuting is a natural wonder and the second option is a technological delight. As always, people are able to read newspapers, twitter, weather forecast, and watching television. But not on the iPhone, but on the huge media wall, riding an escalator.

Program Organization

The housing units are composed of studio type, one-bedroom type, two-bedroom types. Although they have smaller housing units, they have very abundant interior yards and balcony looking at the river. The housing orientation follows the natural light. There are groceries and food market on the ground floor, allowing people to meet others and to buy local food originated from local farms. In the playroom, one can play games, watching movie sharing information with others. This willcreate a new neighborhood by one’s interest.

Implementation Scenario

This disruption idea capitalizes on existing assets. Downtown STL the nonprofit organization implements this project with two municipal co-implementers, the city of St. Louis urban planning and design department and building division. Aside from national funds, this projects inevitable invites developers and investors; there are active design-build and developing firms in St. Louis. Along with the funding resources, two leading universities, especially department of architecture and urban design and planning will do a research collaborating Arch To park collaborative. Media will also help the campaign.