location: St. Louis, MO
type: renovation, adaptive reuse, pedegogical
role: project manager, designer, builder, facilitator
Hyde Park Art House grew out of a series of classes led by Theaster Gates and Juan Williams Chavez in which youth participants from Most Holy Trinity Catholic School and Academy were asked to describe amenities a community needs to be healthy. This process demonstrated a lack of, among other things, access to cultural programming. In response, the dilapidated multi-family building at 1415 Mallinckrodt was donated to Gates by a parishioner, confirming belief in the potential of the youth's requests for additional cultural amenities in the neighborhood.
The building was comprised of a rambling series of structures, and was rooted in three primary time periods, each of which had a distinct corresponding orientation and upon which we intended to layer a fourth. The first, dating to the early/mid 19th century, faced east towards the river, as it was likely built for fur trading using light timber Flemish framing. The second dated from the late 19th century, adding a stately masonry front half to the building that addressed both the recently built streets and Most Holy Trinity. The third dates from the 1920's-30's, and is a series of extremely modestly built additions and modifications, and is reflective of the peak of St. Louis' population density. Our fourth layer addressed the complete reversal of the last phenomenon, in which the building finds itself no longer surrounded by other buildings, and with no one else living on the same block. We gave the building a new orientation facing the alley and a large field formerly filled with buildings, upon which it could open for public performances.
Nearly 18 months after, with the participation of scores of youth and community advisers, volunteers, laborers, contractors, creative practitioners, and organizers, the building was transformed into a space to house art classes, workshops, artist residencies, and many creative visions. Hyde Park Art House/1415 was featured in the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial in the US pavilion, which was also shown at the Chicago Cultural Center. Hyde Park Art House was part of a successful proposal for support from ArtPlace America.
photo by Larry Gawel