2023 AIA Housing Awards: Woodward Lofts by Trivers

Woodward Lofts

Architect:  Trivers

Owner:  Michael Hamburg | Pier Property Group

Location: St. Louis

Category:  Multifamily housing

Project site: Previously developed

Building program type: Residential – multi-family, 5 or more units

In 2016, when St. Louis faced a 20,000 housing unit shortfall, this project’s developer turned to the Woodward & Tiernan Printing Company, a massive factory that landed on the National Register of Historic Places for its pioneering application of the daylight factory style. Today, the building contains 164 loft-style apartments that both honor its industrial legacy and meet the developer’s financial model.

When the factory originally opened in 1925 at Tower Grove and Vandeventer avenues, its innovative design included five clerestory monitors and mushroom-capital concrete floors. The building was still considered modern as late as 1959, when Woodward & Tiernan was absorbed for expansion. In the 1980s, however, the building’s presence in the neighborhood shifted drastically, and while the concrete structure withstood the march of time, its brick facades and terra cotta ornamentation fell into disrepair. It became a hulking and uninviting presence at the edge of a struggling neighborhood. 

Maximizing its residents’ connections to the building’s history was the primary goal of the factory’s redevelopment. The team excised the low roofs between the clerestory monitors to boost daylight in the living spaces and shifted the floor area to new lofted bedrooms to increase the building’s usable square footage. A series of gardens engage the senses, creating intimate outdoor rooms where vestiges of the original structure serve as an implied ceiling. 

“This is a thoughtful adaptive reuse of an existing historical building.” – Jury comment

Echoes of the overarching design concept are embedded in numerous project details. The new garden facades evoke letterbox trays used in old printing processes, murals of which adorn the walls at key entrance points. Ink-like tones for carpet and paint selections and reprints of original Woodward & Tiernan products create an additional series of wall murals. Above, the original sprinkler penthouse now functions as a rooftop lounge where two tanks serve as banquette seating areas. 

Adaptive reuse of the original structure is highlighted by steel purlins and trusses, timber decking, mushroom-capital columns, and board-formed concrete. Several elements of the open floor plates persist, including original oak office partitions that now shape co-working spaces and original terrazzo floors (a surprising discovery) that now shine after hiding beneath decades of dirt.

The factory’s reuse resulted in a 60% reduction in new construction costs at the time, a financial success for the client. With its historic foundation, Woodward Lofts is a substantial and compelling bookend to the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood at one of its busiest intersections.

Project attributes

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 179268 sq. ft.

Project team

Engineer – Civil: CDI

Engineer – Structural: KPFF 

Consulting Engineers Engineer – MEP

Design-Assist: G&W Engineering 

Consultant – Acoustics: Designed Acoustics

Photography: Sam Fentress


Catherine Baker, FAIA, Chair, Nowhere Collaborative, Chicago

John DeForest, AIA, DeForest Architects, Seattle

Brian Lane, FAIA, Koning Eizenberg, Santa Monica, Calif.

Amit Price Patel, AIA, DIALOG, Vancouver, British Columbia

Michael D. Robinson, AIA, Robi4 Architecture & Planning, San Diego

AIA Framework for Design Excellence

The AIA Framework for Design Excellence represents the defining principles of good design in the 21st century. Comprised of 10 principles and accompanied by searching questions, the Framework seeks to inform progress toward a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment.

Framework for Design Excellence / Woodward Lofts

Design for Integration

Was there a design charrette?  Yes

Design for Ecosystems

Site area that supported vegetation (landscape or green roof) pre-development: 1%

Site area that supports vegetation post-development: 40%

Site area covered by native plants supporting native or migratory species and pollinators: 20%

Strategies used to promote Design for Ecosystems: Dark skies, Abatement of specific regional environmental concerns

Design for Water

Is potable water used for irrigation?  Yes

Is potable water used for cooling? No

Is grey/blackwater reused on-site? No

Is rainwater collected on-site? No

Stormwater managed on-site: 0

Design for Energy

2030 Commitment baseline EUI:  35 kBtu/sf/yr

Predicted net EUI including on-site renewables:  61 kBtu/sf/yr

Is the project all-electric? Yes

Design for Well-being

Level of air filters installed: MERV 12-14

Was a “chemicals of concern” list used to inform material selection? No

Do greater than 90% of occupied spaces have a direct view to the outdoors? No

Design for Resources

Were embodied carbon emissions estimated for this project? No

Design for Change

Estimated service life: 50 years

Floor area, if any, representing adapting existing buildings: 100%

Ability to survive without utility power:  Passive survivability

Which of the following risk assessment and resilience services were provided? None of the above

Design for Discovery

Has a post-occupancy evaluation been conducted? Yes

Building performance transparency steps taken:

  • Present the design, outcomes, and/or lessons learned to the office, 
  • Present the design, outcomes, and/or lessons learned to the profession


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