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4340 Duncan – Cortex Innovation Community

St. Louis, Missouri

This adaptive reuse project transformed a long-vacant building listed on the National Register of Historic Places into a multitenant lab and office facility for St. Louis’ burgeoning bioscience startup ecosystem.

The 1930 Crescent Building (4340 Duncan Avenue) once was a state-of-the-art rotogravure printing plant for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Today, as an important new addition on a prominent site in midtown St. Louis’ 200-acre Cortex Innovation Community, it houses modern lab and office spaces.

HOK’s renovation design introduces a new space program while preserving the integrity and industrial feeling of the historic building.

BioSTL is the reimagined building’s anchor tenant, with others including BioGenerator Labs, Confluence Discovery Technologies, Arch Oncology and C2N Diagnostics. Large, open floor plates support biotech firms in all stages of development—from startups to large-scale organizations.

A multistory atrium that had once accommodated printing presses now houses labs surrounded by glass-walled office suites, support spaces and meeting rooms. The monumental staircase visible from the entry lobby promotes provides a clear circulation path.

Large windows, including some that are 20-feet tall on the north side, flood labs and offices with natural light. The space has sealed concrete floors along with exposed red brick walls and concrete columns. Modern electrical, water and HVAC systems increase the building’s efficiency.

The project added a walkout terrace and green roof atop a previous 1950s addition to the building.

The building was developed and is owned by Washington University in St. Louis. HOK worked with WashU affiliate BOBB LLC, BioSTL and construction manager Tarlton on the renovation.

Over the past two decades, HOK’s planning and design teams have helped transform Cortex from a technology-infused life and plant sciences district into an entrepreneurially charged, live-work-play-learn community. Cortex now anchors a growing regional system of more than 400 companies and 6,000 employees across 2 million square feet of space—with near-zero vacancy. In addition to providing early conceptual master planning efforts and ongoing development and master plan studies, HOK has helped shape the majority of the architectural and interiors projects at Cortex, including five new construction or adaptive building reuse projects, one building under construction and two more in planning stages. HOK also has designed 22 office, lab, coworking, incubator, accelerator or innovation center tenant fit-out projects.

90,000 sq. ft. / 8,365 sq. m.
The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design American Architecture Award 2023
SEFA International Lab of the Year, High Honors
Illuminating Engineering Society – Illumination Award of Merit for Energy and Environmental Design
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