Washington University - South Brookings Hall - Faculty of Arts & Sciences Suite - Saint Louis, MO

Paradigm Architects was hired to assist Washington University program and plan new space for the Dean of Faculty of Arts & Sciences in the campus’ centerpiece building, Brookings Hall. Brookings is a historic Cope & Stewardson design, and its interior has been remodeled many times in more than a century of use, primarily for administrative functions.

Like most early campus structures, Brookings consists of linear “wings” laid out with generous (8 feet wide), double-loaded corridors that are inefficient but elegant. The last renovation of this particular space (also administrative offices) filled the corridor with non-circulation, functional requirements like small offices, storage, and print stations. Likely, the programmed space exceeded available space, but the result was a complete loss of the original, elegant spine.

The A&S Deans’ program, fortunately, forms a better fit within available boundaries. This group’s public relations significance and requirements for private work and meetings also necessitate more ample, formal space. Ideally, Deans, staff, and visitors will work and meet comfortably and privately, while also interacting informally throughout the suite. All of these factors suggest a planning solution in which the central corridor and ante-chambers outside most offices constitute informal meeting space and provide a buffer from more public parts of the building.

Paradigm Architects chose warm, natural colors and materials (especially stained, quarter-sawn white oak trim and flooring) to create a visually comfortable environment. At the suite’s entryway, a wall of “university red,” back-painted, free-standing glass stands as a formal backdrop, privacy screen, and counterpoint to the otherwise traditional palette.