Umrath Hall makeover garners awards

Century-old building renewed with sustainable design

The renovation of Karl D. Umrath Hall is receiving accolades from prominent construction organizations, thanks to its sustainability, addition of natural light and modernization.

The 42,500-square-foot building’s environmental sustainability components earned it Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Renovation of the building, constructed in 1902 as a dormitory, garnered a Keystone Award from the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis. Umrath Hall was named project of the year in its category by the organization. It also won an award for best practices in pre-project planning from the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers.

The complex renovation, completed in June in a lightning-fast 14-and-a-half months, required the removal and replacement of Umrath’s roof and all load-bearing interior walls above the basement. The first- and second-floor rooms are about a foot taller and the new two-story atrium crowned by a skylight gives the once-cloistered space an open, expansive feel, says Mike Benoist, project manager – facilities planning & management.

“It’s completely rejuvenated,” he says. “We breathed 100 more years of life into that building by opening it up. The tenants love it.”

The tenants are: Campus Y, CIRCLE, the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics, the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences; the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities and the Center for the Humanities. There is also a 56-seat classroom available for general use.

Other improvements include the renovation of the 150-seat Umrath Lounge run by Event Management, a working fireplace, disabled accessibility with grade-level entrances and two elevators, easier navigability and updated classrooms and offices.

Environmentally sustainable components include improved interior wall insulation; energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling; new windows; dual-flush toilets; a shower to encourage tenants to exercise or bike to work; use of low-pollution paints; recycled and renewable materials; water-thrifty landscape plants and more.

Just as important, Benoist says, was the preservation of the historically significant design by the prominent architectural firm Cope & Stewardson, reknowned in the early 20th century for collegiate Gothic architecture. Umrath is one of the 11 original buildings on the Danforth Campus.

Alberici Constructors Inc. performed the renovation and the design team included Trivers Associates, KJWW Engineering and KPFF Consulting Engineers.

Renovation of Umrath Hall.