12 October 2010

Ethical Society gets Distinguished Building Award

The Saint Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently honored the Ethical Society by Harris Armstrong, FAIA with their "Distinguished Building Award". I had the honor of presenting the award along with showing some photographs of the building.

View from the southeast. The reflecting pools with spray fountains were designed as the heat sinks for the HVAC system as part of Armstrong's original design.
You can find out more about the building and the organization's esteemed history at their website: Ethical Society of Saint Louis. They are located at: 9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63117 (click here for location via Google Maps). I encourage you to visit the building personally as it is the only true way to appreciate its dynamic space, natural daylighting and reverent form.

Light streaming into the main entry hall shines through the abstract, yet sensual colors of the stained glass Armstrong selected for this south-facing space.
The organization is to be especially commended for the great attention to detail and maintaining the original architect's design in renovating and adding to the structure to meet current needs.
A cast-in-place concrete fireplace separates the two entry vestibules that penetrates the building's south facade.

I'm including recent images of the building as presented at the 2010 AIA St. Louis Design Awards and in a St. Louis Business Journal article discussing this honor.

A night view looking into the main entry hall from outside. The paired concrete columns that surround the space are here joined to form the back of the central fireplace and chimney.

The central windowless meeting room is lined with a screen of pecan wood panels. Cylindrical concrete columns define the perimeter and support the custom glulam curved beams which rise up to meet at the central skylight.

Armstrong worked with Ethical Society members to select the range of fabrics used in the auditorium seating.

The auditorium is contained within a square room with beams rising up to a square skylight which forms the central spire on the building's exterior. This high point of the roof gives the building its distinctive silhouette and gives the building visual prominence from Clayton Road where it lies below street level.
Looking directly up into the central light fixture gives the impression of a solar eclipse with light from the central skylight playing off the symmetrically splayed beams.

Photographs copyright © 1996-2010 Andrew Raimist.


  1. rana khoder19 October, 2010

    The reflecting of the building in the pool make the building look more beautiful and more related to it's function. Also the colors of the windows in the main entry hall are making the entry hall full of life, it broke the rigid feeling of the normal entrances and make the hall more enjoyable

  2. rana khoder

    Yes, you're right that the reflecting pool is an integral part of the design. The way it is positioned to reflect sunlight up and through the stained glass surrounding the main entry hall can create spectacular effects. They can only truly be experienced when visiting the building.