Historic Shriners, CID Buildings to Become 180-Unit WUSM Residential Campus

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nextSTL has learned the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will soon unveil a significant renovation project including the redevelopment of the historic Shriners Hospital and Central Institute for the Deaf for student-focused housing. Both were once slated for demolition. Planned is approximately 180 units between the two buildings located across from one another on Clayton Avenue adjacent to the medical campus.

In January of last year we reported on both buildings being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, generally a prelude to the use of historic tax credits for redevelopment. We later learned that the project would focus on student housing. The project has been green-lighted and should begin in the coming weeks.


Three-fourths of the units will be studio apartments from 250-350 sf, with planned rents of $780-$1,480 per month. Remaining units will be 1BD of 400-500 sf at $1,260-$1,520 and a handful of 2BD of 750sf at $1,500-$1,700. Current rents in Olin range from $550-$814, where rooms are roughly 150 sf.

The student housing would replace the 10-story Olin dormitory at 4550 Scott Avenue. Built in 1959, Olin has a total of 165 apartment units and is home to nearly 200 students. The dormitory is planned to be closed in 2018 following the completion of the new housing project. It is then planned to serve as temporary office space as renovations across the campus necessitate reorganization of existing space. The building is then likely to be torn down.

Olin dormitory_WUSM

The average room in Olin consists of a wash basin and medicine cabinet with common bathroom facilities on each floor. An Olin resident spelled out the experience on the school’s residential information website: “(K)eep in mind that you will be living in a dorm. This means living in a single with no common room plus shared kitchens and bathrooms. If anything I just described absolutely horrifies you, you will not be happy living here”. While perhaps not horrifying, this living arrangement falls short of current expectations.

Quadrangle Development, a full-service community management company and solely owned subsidiary of Washington University in St. Louis, will manage the housing, which may not be exclusively reserved for students. The for-profit company allows the project to receive state and federal historic tax credits. KWK Architects of St. Louis has been engaged for planning and design.

Student services offices currently located in the Shriners building, as well as the McDonnell Medical Sciences building will be relocated into library space to be vacated. The space occupied by the library is slated to be reduced from five to two floors, making room for the Institute for Biomedical Computing as well.

In early 2008, a new “Community Unit Plan” (CUP) was introduced at the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen displaying nearly a dozen buildings considered for demolition across the Central West End medical campus. Of those labeled for demolition, only the Crescent building adjacent to Solae and now planned for redevelopment as part of Cortex, and Shriners and CID remain standing.

The remaking of the medical campus continues on a grand scale. The 500K sf BJC building at the MetroLink Station is well underway, the new Children’s Hospital is under construction, with much more to come, the McKinley Avenue building has been completed, and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy has started on its second significant building. Nearby, Forest Park Parkway is set to be brought to-grade with Kingshighway, creating a more accessible entry to the medical campus, and a new MetroLink station is being added at Cortex, where more projects will be announced soon.

For more, check out:

WUSM community development plan CUPCentral Institute for the Deaf_818 S. Euclid_WUSMShriners streetviewShriners' Hospital - St. Louis, MO

Central Institute for the Deaf
Architect: William B. Ittner
Date: 1916; 1929
Central Institute for the Deaf: 909 S. Taylor. Dr. Max Aaron Goldstein founded the Central Inststitue for the Deaf (CID) in 1914 and the first building opened in 1916 at the current location; Architect William B. Ittner expanded the building in 1929 to complement the neighboring Shriner’s Hospital. Ittner maintained the Renaissance Revival style and added extensive laboratories, classrooms, and other facilities. The CID was initially envisioned as an institute to teach deaf children to speak and train teachers to deal with the special needs of the hearing impaired. In 1931, the CID Teachers Training College became the first deaf teachers college to be affiliated with a university when it created a partnership with Washington University. By 1947 the Institute offered graduate programs in deaf education, communication science, and the new field of audiology, which CID pioneered. In 1958, researchers and teachers implemented a parent-infant program that became a model for deaf education world wide. In 2000 the CID completed a new campus, which is a major addition adjoining the Ittner building to the east. The CID building was listed in the National Register in 2004. The building is threatened by the same plan that is entertaining the idea of demolishing the Shriners Hospital for a future expansion of the Washington Univeristy Medical Center.

Shriners Hospital
Architect: William B. Ittner
Date: 1922
Shriners Hospital: 700 S. Euclid. In 1921 the Shriners organization passed a proposal to create a network of free hospitals across the country to treat birth defects and crippled children. Their first hospital opened in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana. By the end of the 1920’s 13 more hospitals had been built around the United States. The St. Louis facility, one of the first, was designed by renowned St. Louis Architect William B. Ittner. Construction of the Renaissance Revival building began in 1922 and the hospital opened in 1924. The building currently houses offices, though some interior spaces once used for hospital purposes pose a challenge for adaptive re-use. The building is threatened by a Community Unit Plan (approved) for the Washington University Medical Center which proposes, among other things, the possible demolition of several architecturally and historically significant buildings to make room for future expansion.

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  • STLrainbow

    Looks like this will begin construction soon, but as market-rate apartments and not student-specific housing, per Post-Dispatch

    • Alex Ihnen

      Great to see it open up a bit – housing demand extends beyond full-time students. Seems it will be student-focused and market rate?

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  • Frank Absher

    Great scoop, as usual, Alex.

  • Presbyterian

    This is really great news. I love to walk by these historic structures. I’m glad they’ll be put to good residential use.

    Do we know what Central Institute for the Deaf plans to do after giving up their historic home?

    • HawkSTL

      CID has a newer building adjacent to the existing structure (to the east along Clayton Ave). I assume that CID will shrink its footprint using the newer building only. Cochlear implant technology has reduced the time that hearing impaired children need to be in specialized schools. CID was built (especially with the adjacent building) to house students for many years throughout grade school and beyond. That is no longer needed now that infants receive cochlear implants, and kids can now be mainstreamed into regular schools more quickly. The partnership with and investment by Wash. U., I assume, means that CID is staying put. But, it would be nice to have confirmation.

      • Joe S

        I would highly doubt CID goes anywhere. I was able to spend a day there about 6 months ago. It is an incredible facility. Many parents who work in the Barnes complex put their children’s names on a waiting list over two years in advance to have their child attend.

        • HawkSTL

          You’re correct that CID is wonderful. It just had bad timing when it expanded — right at the dawn of cochlear implants. That is what led to the need for the partnership with and financial investment from Wash. U. in 2003. The size of the facility is for the pre-cochlear era, when hearing impaired kids could not readily be mainstreamed into regular schools for an extended period of time and when CID needed to board students. Things have changed — and for the better.

  • Alex P

    Good to hear. Unique historic buildings will attract students. Especially since Olin may have actually been a deterrent. It’s a shame Olin will eventually be torn down though. Olin is quite historical as well and really shows BJH campus’ dual role as hospital and University.

    • Adam

      And with a little love Olin—already an attractive building IMO—could be a VERY attractive MC building.

      • I don’t think it meets current needs for anything, and definitely isn’t accessible. Dorms from that era can generally be repurposed for storage or temp office space, but they’re pretty useless otherwise.

    • Framer

      Yep; it’a a shame to lose Olin. What a cool example of MCM!