By. Chris Stritzel
As new buildings rise up across the area that are either designed by local (HOK, Tao and Lee, Arcturis, Trivers or KAI) or National (Hord Coplan Macht, Studio Gang and HKS), one thing is for sure that more buildings that can change the skylines of Clayton or Downtown St. Louis are popping up. For better or worse, a architecture firm that has kept quiet is starting to wake up and reinvent itself. That firm is Chesterfield Based HDA Architects. Some of their projects include 212 Clayton and the Magna Place building in Clayton. Magna is recognizable but it’s unique setbacks and all glass design while 212 has been criticized for being concrete and glass. Many people have hit HDA hard for their ultra economic designs that give you the most bang for your buck.
Since 212’s completion early last year, HDA has started to bring more attention to high rise design. This attention brought us 300 South Broadway in December. Even though it has a similar design to 212, it is also different as it is more square and will change downtown's skyline. It will also add to the area surrounding the ballpark, which is currently a residential desert. The 268 unit tower will push regulations to the limit as the tower is right at the 337 foot tall limit east of Broadway. Besides the point of it being a new residential building, it also symbolizes the direction HDA is going. As younger leadership takes over the company, forward thinking designs and new uses are coming about and a key piece will be height and density in urban environments.
HDA is still very much involved in the brewery business, and they design some badass brewery concepts, but they appear to be focusing more and more on residential and hotel designs, which are popular in today’s economy. At Clayton and Hanley, a conceptual design was published on their website showing their ideas for the lot formerly occupied by a Schnucks store. The 24 Floor Tower would stand at roughly the same height of 212 but would be unique. It has a curved design and is mostly glass. However, there are two problems with this concept…
In the future, I see HDA being a major player in new development design in St. Louis. Overall, HDA could be designing more high rises and things for developers who are interested in St. Louis. They may be in Clayton, Central West End or Downtown, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe we will find out soon. But even as they reach toward the sky, HDA recently designed a 3 floor office building for the former Shriner's Hospital Site In Frontenac and while it isn’t tall, it shows more creativity as brick is used to make the building look attractive. We’ve seen this unique use of brick on the 300 South Broadway alternative design.
HDA is thinking right, and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves. Who knows, maybe they will design the future tallest building in Missouri.
Keep reaching for the sky HDA! You are on the right track.