A New Destination Downtown


ST. LOUIS—The Park Pacific building at 1226 Olive Street will soon be home to an unusual blend of coffee and culture by way of a gallery/café hybrid aimed at celebrating local talent. The move comes as the latest in a series of neighborhood projects led by downtown design and development firm Lawrence Group, owners of the Park Pacific building.

The Park Pacific building, St. Louis. Image courtesy of Lawrence Group.The Park Pacific building, St. Louis. Image courtesy of Lawrence Group.

Adding to its 25 years downtown, including the last five years headquartered at 555 Washington Avenue, Art Saint Louis is moving its gallery and administrative offices to the Park Pacific building this summer. The organization is raising funds to renovate a 2,700 square foot retail space on the south side of the building, at 1223 Pine Street, where it plans to reopen in July and continue exhibitions and event programming focused on visual artists at work in the St. Louis region.

The space will also be home to a new coffee boutique owned and operated by locally-based Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters. Company founder and owner Christopher Ruess, himself an artist (painter), sees an organic connection between coffee and art. “Savoring a cup of coffee is not unlike enjoying a work of art. You have to slow down and live with it a little.” The location will offer a weekly menu of specialty brews and will debut in the St. Louis market new pour-over "SoftBrew" techniques that are gaining popularity in Europe. Says Ruess, “People will see cutting edge work in the Art Saint Louis gallery. I want them to taste some as well.”

Rendering of the new Art Saint Louis gallery, facing south. Image courtesy of Lawrence Group. Rendering of the new Art Saint Louis gallery, facing south. Image courtesy of Lawrence Group.

“We’re deliberately blurring the lines here,” says Art Saint Louis Executive Director Chandler Branch. “We want this to be both a cultural and a social destination. The goal is to better serve artists and audiences, particularly by making more connections between the two groups.” In addition to the café, plans call for outdoor seating, free WiFi and a dynamic rotation of designer furniture in the heart of the exhibition areas provided by Niche Home Furnishings and Design (also owned by Lawrence Group) as part of a marketing partnership between Art Saint Louis and Niche.

Lawrence Group CEO Steve Smith and Principal Paul Doerner believe Art Saint Louis programming will add to a growing sense of neighborhood vitality. “The focus on regional art is a natural complement to Alumni Saint Louis,” said Smith, referencing the Lawrence Group-owned restaurant that recently opened at Park Pacific themed around “the people, places and food that make Saint Louis great.” Notes Doerner, “Proximity to the St. Louis Public Library, Christ Church Cathedral and the SLU Law School will make this as much an amenity to downtown visitors as it will be for residents at Park Pacific.”

About Art Saint Louis
Art Saint Louis is a nonprofit organization that has promoted the work of contemporary visual artists in and around St. Louis for over 28 years. Core services include a year-round series of exhibitions in the organization’s gallery in downtown St. Louis as well as a number of rotating exhibitions in offices and public spaces elsewhere in St. Louis.

About Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters
Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters opened in 2004, when Christopher Ruess decided to start his own small batch artisan coffee roasting business in the historic Soulard area in St Louis. At the time, he simply wanted to serve small neighborhood coffee houses with the best coffee the area had to offer. Since then, Mississippi Mud Coffee has grown to become a respected small batch coffee roaster with a name that is synonymous with some of the best coffees in St Louis.

About Lawrence Group
Lawrence Group is a building design, development, and project delivery firm headquartered in St. Louis. Recently named a “Hospitality Giant” by Interior Design Magazine, Lawrence Group offers architecture, interior design, a retail furniture showroom (Niche), landscape architecture, graphic design, town planning, construction management and real estate development services to health care, academic, commercial, hospitality and housing clients. Lawrence Group is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council. Please visit our website at www.thelawrencegroup.com.