The Lewis Collaborative

Washington University and Quadrangle Housing

University City, Missouri
Lewis Collaborative

The Lewis Center is a former school, commonly called the Ward Building, that has long served in many capacities for Washington University’s design students. Studio space and classrooms have given way to a coworking space, cafe, and individual residences in this modern reimagination of the historic structure.

Lewis Collaborative2

The Lewis Center exhibits many additions and materials as it has served many purposes over its life.

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In the earliest phases, DTLS conceived of a ribbon language to direct visitors to entries that lie deep within the site. This language served as an inspiration for bent planes that could serve not only as a graphic trope but also retain grade to maximize tree protection.

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Although materials evolved in the project development, the intent of a very contemporary form against the historic structure remained.

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The North Entry will be the primary front door for the facility. DTLS supported this program with clear signage, patterned materiality, and vertical wall elements.

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At the north entry, a loading dock was reimagined as an outdoor conference room and stage for larger events. Wrapped by rolled steel, this stage acts as a front door for the Center, and grade change becomes a datum for the historic structure.

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At the south entry, the site directly caters to pedestrian and visitors arriving by bus.

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The South Entry leans on the same wall language, supplementing with seating elements for bus visitors. The detail development for the steel wall cladding required careful attention to aging and natural processes with an authentic material.

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The South Entry is now intended to be a primary access to the Cafe and Coworking functions of the Lewis Center.

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In it’s built form, the site access from the South prioritizes pedestrians and introduces a direct access to the historic school.

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Cafe overflow space capitolizes on the shade from existing trees while carefully integrating with circulation routes.

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In the North Courtyard, users can flow seamlessly from interior gathering spaces to exterior collaboration space.

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The north courtyard is augmented through architectural updates to the catwalks and a stunning mural installation.

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The South Courtyard is a hidden gem filled with color by architectural remnants.

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Throughout the Lewis Collaborative project, colorful and ecclectic furnishings were specified to accent the historic structure.

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In the parking lot, a deep bioretention element offsets all paved spaces while filtering stormwater through Missouri native species.

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The Lewis Collaborative has evolved from the historic Ward Building to the contemporary facility we see today. The site intends to support that vision, while catering to creative users and occupants.


The Lawrence Group
Mahlum Architects
Civil Engineering Design Consultants (CEDC)

Project Facts

3.75 acres


In its pre-rehabilitation form, the Lewis Center occupies a former school, commonly called the Ward Building. Having sustained many additions over the years, this development effort aims to bring a unified and consistent built approach to the building and its grounds. The Lewis Collaborative is currently home to an incubator co-working space, a cafe, and individual residences. This very modern use requires a modern approach in a historic framework.

DTLS proposed a very contemporary insertion of a metal retaining wall that acts as a wayfnding element at the two primary visitor and resident entries. This ele-ment
serves as signage, a truncation for grade variations and the historic stone wall, and
a modern of-set. This vibrant element sets the tone for contemporary and industrial inser-tions
in the building interior, as well.
The architecture of the Lewis Collaborative is focused around two interior courtyards.
These insular gems are envisioned as a respite from the goings-on within the building, and
are meant to be spill-out spaces for collaboration and daily life. Supplemented by new
pavements, planting, and furnishings, the courtyards are the new center of the building and
student life.

The Details

  • Internal
  • Courtyard
  • Amenity
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