Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

Washington University's landmark campus dates from the late 19th century and features collegiate gothic buildings within an Olmsted-designed landscape.  VHA has renovated two of its most prominent spaces, Graham Chapel and Holmes Lounge.

Graham Chapel

Constructed in 1907-09, Washington University's Graham Chapel suffered incremental changes and maintenance neglect over the years.  VHA was asked to renovate and restore the historic interior, and to design an addition with a new accessible entrance.

An existing rear vestibule was enlarged to create space for the new entry.  The landscape was redesigned to provide an accessible path. The chapel's distinctive masonry was matched exactly.

The design solves the functional problem without calling attention to itself or distracting from the original architecture. This is true of the chapel interior as well, where a new portal in the masonry wall is carefully detailed to harmonize with the historic fabric.

An addition provides an accessible entry to the sanctuary via a new portal cut through the chapel's 3'-0" masonry walls. The University's distinctive stone palette was matched exactly.

VHA also restored the interior, cleaning the walls and refinishing the elaborate wooden ceiling. An elevator and restrooms were added, balcony seating was increased and new mechanical systems were installed.

Holmes Lounge

Holmes Lounge in Ridgley Hall was built in 1902 as part of the initial quadrangle at Washington University. It was the school's library until 1962 when it was converted into a study hall/cafeteria, nullifying the room's grand scale and character.

VHA restored Holmes Lounge for use as the University's primary reception space. Original plaster was restored and new, historically-accurate paint schemes were introduced. Oak millwork clads new windows and conceals updated HVAC systems. Original sconces were replicated and new chandeliers were added. These improvements earned the project an Interior Architecture award from AIA Chicago.


General Contractor: Hensley Construction

Structural Engineer: Lapin-Ellis & Associates

M/E/P Engineer: Tennill & Associates

Lighting: Randy Burkett Lighting Design

Photographer: Alise O'Brien