The Loop is an incredible example of how a spirited and committed group of community members, an inspired and focused Executive Director, and a collaborative design team can use design to bring planning and a vision to life.
At Arcturis, we design for people. This dedication to people helps to form our design focus on all project types, with a goal of using design to improve how people live, work and experience the spaces we help to create.
Recent opportunities have allowed us to focus on projects for individuals in transition or crisis. Through collaboration with the client and evidence-based research, we create design that supports rehabilitation and treatment efforts.
The new Harris House Rehab Facility (St. Louis, MO) and ACH Child and Family Services Residential Treatment Center (Fort Worth, TX) exemplify the design thinking necessary for residential therapy settings. In these instances, the programming phase of the project is critical to developing the appropriate path for the design team to follow. Important questions define who the project is serving, how are they admitted to the facility, treatment needs, and what level of “risk” do they pose. The concept of “support” becomes central to space design versus a facility meant to “constrain.”
The use of trauma-informed care has proven to successfully reduce recidivism and allow the residents associated with these projects to thrive. Design that considers these deeply human needs can support an organization or facility’s mission to restore and support those in crisis.
There are careful design considerations that contribute to project and program success:
1. Balance of safety and desire to maintain a sense of home or place
Create a hierarchy of space that transitions from public to semi-private to private and assign levels of risk to each of those and use these levels as a guide for design decisions.
Plan for premium costs for items that may potentially impose risk but add more value towards the sense of place you are creating (ie – safety glass, anti-ligature hardware, and accessories that look more “regular” instead of detention,” well designed or even “hidden” wall protection instead of institutional looking wall protection)
Bedrooms will provide privacy and a sense of personal ownership, but staff must have some ability to monitor residents
Restrooms are the highest risk areas and their location and accessibility must be carefully considered
Consider separation of sexes and the potential impacts with both alternatives
Provide areas for gender nonconforming residents
2. Purposeful direction of traffic using floor plan design/flow to help maintain security and avoid confusion
Naturally direct residents experiencing trauma or aggression to secure outdoor space
Stringent review of door hardware to allow the appearance of free access with some control over high risk areas and to avoid escape
3. Provide ample space for staff to be able to support their residents;
Provide enough support/back of house space to simplify staff responsibilities so their focus can be on residents as needed
4. Access to outdoor space and the mix of use within that space
Balance of structured environments and open/natural/exploratory environments
Provide walking paths as a means of release
Determine if outdoor space is required to be secured and design appropriately- If secured, avoid overly intensive fencing or barriers and use people as the first line of defense
5. Natural light is critical in every room.
Private or personal space should have light and views and be able to be controlled by individual.
All education or social spaces should have natural light as a main design focus.
Incorporate high/clerestory glazing in corridors or glazing at the termination of corridors to improve how these are experienced
6. Balance of personal space and group/activity space
7. Material Palette should be durable but not feel institutional.
Use natural materials in locations that have a high aesthetic impact but are not able to be destroyed or graffiti’d
Use a more subdued or neutral color palette in therapy and residential areas, with color accents (if necessary) in the more social spaces
While each project must be approached on an individual basis, these considerations were a driving factor in the design of both projects highlighted. All design decisions ultimately related back to the goal of enabling both the ACH and Harris House teams to properly attend to their residents, and to create a space that is supportive of the necessary cognitive development for healing.
Written By: Chrissy Rogers
As part of this mission, T-REX partnered with Arcturis to develop a 10,000 SF coworking space and technology incubator where entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and other professionals can build their businesses, foster a community of innovation, and create a network of creativity and support.
For St. Louis Design Week, Arcturis partnered with Kingdom House and Sherwin Williams to create a mural that celebrates design and community. While Arcturis spearheaded the creation of the mural, it was a truly collaborative event where people from Kingdom House and the St. Louis design community pitched in to complete the project.
Kingdom House, a community resource center, is a hub for all underserved people in our community. “Kingdom House believes in transformation…from the inside out. Through holistic programs and services, they promote empowerment and growth in individuals and families. They help the economically disadvantaged achieve economic independence, self-sufficiency and a path out of poverty.”
So, we set out to transform the side of the Kingdom House building with our collaborative event that shows how design can transform, communicate, and benefit community spaces like this. Our design is a collection of geometric forms that come together to create an abstracted image. These forms, when viewed as a whole, create an overall design that closely follows the design principles of unity and balance. We felt that this visually embodied the mission and spirit of Kingdom House.
The mural contains interactive and stimulating elements that give visitors using the space something exciting to experience when using the outdoor recreation area. For example, elements like the curved line that weaves and connects each section of the design, or the grouping of dots in the middle, become visual games to engage the viewer. At the same time, we helped to contemporize this recreation area with vibrant colors and bold patterns.
We believe that design can transform a space, and the experience of collectively creating this piece was a great way to show the spirit of the St. Louis Design Community. A huge thank you to our partnership with Kingdom House, and the generosity of Sherwin Williams for helping these efforts come to fruition.
We’re trying something new on our blog. We have some amazing and talented people that work at Arcturis, and we want to share them with you. Welcome to Arcturis Asks: Insider Edition!
For this first installment, we sat down with recent addition to the Arcturis architecture team, Cameron Strickland. (And if there is a better way to get to know someone than forcing them to answer 10 random questions, well…we don’t want to know about it.)
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.
Since you’re a STL native, what’s your favorite St. Louis food: toasted raviolis or St. Louis-style pizza?
Toasted ravioli, hands down. No one in Kansas knew what is was and it was saddening.
Where did you go to college?
Kansas State University, where I graduated this past May with a Master of Architecture degree and a minor in Community and Regional Planning.
Did you always know you wanted to be an architect?
Growing up, art and creativity were central to my life and were a part of my self-expression. During my teenage years, I started a student-lead art club at my high school and was eventually asked to paint two murals at the school. I also participated in local art competitions and exhibits such as the ‘Chalk the Loop Festival’ and the St. Louis Art Museum’s first annual ‘Youth Artist Exhibition.’ It was not until my later years in high school that I decided to pursue architecture because I did not know what it was.
Back to college, were you involved in any organizations in college?
Yes, I was involved in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Black Student Union, and the American Institute of Architecture Students. I also served as a Peer Educator for Freshmen in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design; and served as President of the campus chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students. I also made the Dean’s List while participating in these various organizations.
Wow! You were busy in college. Did you take it easy in the summers?
Somewhat. During the summers, I returned to St. Louis to take summer classes and held internships with The MUNY, Hastings+Chivetta Architects, and the City of Berkeley, MO.
Any favorite memories from college?
Many of my favorite memories involve spending time with my friends. In particular, we all studied abroad in Europe for a semester where I got to speak with locals in their local Italian and Spanish languages. This also provided me with the opportunity to travel to a variety of places across Western Europe.
So you enjoy traveling. Any recent trips?
Recently, I traveled to Chicago for the 2018 NOMA UNBOUNDED Conference, where I went on community tours, participated in a roundtable discussion promoting dialogue between communities of people of color and the design profession. Additionally, I attended multiple seminars that discussed experiences in the design profession, wellness and equity in building materials, intersectionality, how to combat sexism in the professional environment, and how to engage youth unaware of the design profession.
It sounds like a fascinating conference. What was the most interesting part for you?
As part of the conference, I viewed the work of Theaster Gates and toured the continuous impact of African-American culture on the city.
Lastly, time for some Cameron Fun Facts: what do you enjoy doing when you’re not designing buildings and changing the world?
I am lefty who enjoys kayaking. Growing up left-handed often required me to approach the world with out-of-the-box thinking, such as learning to adjust my hand while drawing or painting so as not to smear the piece. Kayaking allows me to explore and connect with nature at a slower, more relaxing pace.
That closes out the inaugural edition of Arcturis Asks. Welcome to Arcturis, Cameron (and thanks for being a good sport)!
Experiencing rapid growth, Adarza, a biotech company whose name means “reflection” in Sanskrit, desired a space that would accommodate their needs while representing the brand and culture. Inspired by Adarza’s meaning and founding technology, Arcturis incorporated conceptualized elements of reflection and perception throughout the design to represent the brand.
Depicting a key tool in company’s detection process, a pattern of luminous dots on the ceiling guides users while reflecting the design inspiration throughout the space. Privacy film on the glass-enclosed conference rooms and breakroom glass divider provides gradations from opaque to translucent, eventually allowing for increased clarity into the areas.
Another important environmental element is the “Community Wall” in the breakroom. A vital component of this company’s brand, their defined culture relies on the cross-pollination of knowledge. By creating a space that allows employees to share ideas and contribute to their environment, Adarza is writing their own story and continually expressing their brand and culture.
For anyone visiting Adarza’s redefined space, Arcturis’s design provides clarity about the technology provided while further refining the company’s story and culture.
This project was completed in collaboration with DCM Group. A special thanks to them for helping this vision become a reality! @dcmgroupstl
Thank you for helping us celebrate an incredible 40 years of design.
Arcturis was interviewed among other globally-reaching architects to discuss major trends in innovative workplaces. The latest trend paper from the Brookings Institution, Innovation Spaces: The New Design of Work, dissects major trends in modern workplace innovation.
 "Economic innovation is increasingly open and collaborative"
 "Collaboration-centric work and worker preference are revaluing face-to-face communication"
 "Technology is increasingly ubiquitous in the workplace with innovation spaces witnessing a particularly pronounced infusion of tech over the last 10 years"
In 2014, the Washington Post published an article about the detriments of the open office. The article compared the open office to being naked in public. The remainder of the article took some major jabs at the perceived failures of the open office, making a strong case to the reader that Google did in fact ‘get it wrong’ when they designed their workplace.
But where this article actually ‘gets it wrong’ is when it made the assumption that all open office environments are created equal. They are not. The open office is more than just ditching the cubicles and corner offices. The open office involves strategically designing a workplace that fits the needs of the user and providing choice. Choice is key. Choice provides control.
Since articles like these have started to surface, they are sometimes forwarded to us from worried clients. ‘Are we doing the right thing’, they ask?
Articles that denounce the open office are making workplace design seem very black and white, while the right design solution for our clients are almost always gray. You do not have to decide ‘open office’ or ‘private office’. If designed correctly, you can (and should) have both.
Companies often have Aha! moments when they realize how little they actually sit at their assigned desks. A typical schedule of today’s knowledge worker includes meetings, conference calls, travel, emails, and focus work. Sure, they are performing these tasks at their desks, but also in meeting rooms, on the phone in their cars, or even at home. On average, assigned desks are unoccupied 50% of the day.
Even if companies do not go to the extreme of a fully unassigned work environment, dedicating less square footage to owned space can have huge benefits. We have witnessed that the right mix of shared space can make everyone in the office perform better. When we look at space in a new way, everyone has access to a private office. Everyone has access to a meeting room when they need it, instead of having to schedule around other people. Users can focus on that report they need to review in private. They can meet in communal spaces and share ideas, allowing millennials to learn from the valuable knowledge of the soon to retire boomers.
The open office is not dead. In fact, an open office of choice and control is an effective approach to successful workplace design.
- Michelle Rotherham, Director - Interior Design
As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to consider how our designs impact people. We strive to take a human centered approach to design. With that in mind, we do our best with the knowledge and scientific research we have to select materials and products that will positively impact users. Recently, I attended a lecture by James Benya and Deborah Burnett that discussed lighting and human health. The lecture explored research that shows how lighting can have a significant impact on our health.
Blue Light - We have been hearing for a number of years about the effect of blue light on our circadian system after sunset. Scientific research is continuing to show how blue light impacts how our biological systems operate including sleep cycle and diet. Blue light can come from a number of sources such as phones, TVs, alarm clocks, humidifiers, night lights, indoor lamps/light fixtures, and outdoor light fixtures. The hope is that the fields of scientific research, medicine, and design would increasingly work together to develop solutions and strategies to address these challenges.
Utilizing SPD (spectral power distribution) to help determine the amounts of specific color that are in the light being generated is an important practice. Color temperature between sources may look similar, but the makeup of the light can be different. This is important to know as the impact of blue light at night continues to develop. One major challenge is that SPD information is not always readily available from commercial fixtures or residential lamp manufacturers to perform a proper analysis.
Color Tuning – Color tuning means the fixtures or lighting system has a variable color temperature. It is important to be mindful of who this is impacting in regards to time, location, and if the controls are automated or manual. Color tuning is not a one size fits all solution.
- Brian Waite, LEED AP, IES, LC - Interior & Lighting Designer
Arcturis recently discussed the future of the workplace with Colliers International and the St. Louis Business Journal.
MEET THE EXPERT: As a Principal at Arcturis, Julie Keil leads the workplace design team by establishing strategic direction and providing dynamic solutions to meet her client’s complex business needs. Her 28 years at the firm have made her a national expert on creating office spaces for world-class clients like Wells Fargo, Ameren, Express Scripts and Equifax.
St. Louis Business Journal: What industries are driving the local office market?
Keil: The start-ups. The Cortex area. The biotech. The life sciences. You still have your large corporate activities, but there’s a lot of activity in the start-ups, the more entrepreneurial-driven market. That activity is really exciting. It gives a different perspective to the type of space that is created for the market.
St. Louis Business Journal: What are the hot projects?
Keil: The Cortex hub, the Armory, and the growth in healthcare with the BJC expansion — that whole area is going to be a huge transformation over the next several years. Innovation is so important. I think corporations are all acknowledging that even if they have their corporate campuses there is a tie and an interest to have a presence in a Cortex-type of environment.
St. Louis Business Journal: The mantra we’ve always heard is location, location, location, but really there’s lots of locations that you’re referencing that have big potential right now.
Keil: In the corporate world, what we see as a huge driver is attracting and retaining top talent. With the shift in the workforce with a lot of the baby boomers, who I think historically like being in the suburbs, they like an easy commute. With more millennials really becoming the dominant population, I think there is a desire to be in more of an urban, metropolitan-feeling area. That’s where they want to live and it’s also where they want to work.
People can work anywhere. It used to be that people had to physically drive or commute in some manner to their workplace to physically work. Your desk was there. Your access to technology was there, and so on. Today, technology makes it possible to work anywhere, any time. I question if our future is really going to be corporations or if it is going to be diversified, where you have multiple offices that are more hub-like for people to come together and collaborate. Oftentimes, people have the ability to be able to work at home, but they want that personal connection. That’s where you will see people come into work a couple days a week that do not necessarily need to, but do to make that connection.
Currently under construction with an anticipated completion in summer of 2017, The Metro Downtown Transit Center is designed to accommodate the expansion of Metro bus operations in downtown St. Louis, increasing capacity from six bus stalls to twenty-two and connecting riders with existing light rail and regional bus and rail systems. This major commuter hub will serve as a primary multimodal station stop for an estimated 5,000 thousand passengers daily while also serving the City’s 19,000 seat indoor arena.
Constrained by site and financial limitations, the design elevates the rider experience, prioritizing pedestrian safety and convenience. A modest pavilion building anchors the site and mediates a significant grade change between the expanded bus facilities and existing light rail station.
This small building provides shelter and basic services for transit passengers and staff, and houses passenger and employee restrooms, transit employee offices, a small retail shop, and a passenger ticketing, information, and waiting area.
The building’s form is dictated by site constraints and program: its eastern side curved to accommodate the turning radii of incoming buses; its south-end determined by the set-back of the highway overpass; the west side flush to the setback of the rail line; and its north end bounded by the existing light rail crossing.
The building’s upper volume projects to allow for the safe movement of passengers and transit workers at rail level. The project’s primary materials –board-formed concrete and zinc –were chosen for their beauty, durability, and strength and carefully detailed to subtly reference the site’s historic past as a mill location.
Construction Progress - January 2017