COCA, Center of Creative Arts Expansion
St. Louis, Missouri
The mission of the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) is to “enrich lives and build community through the arts.” The collaboration of Christner + Axi:Ome is designing a renovation and facility expansion that will honor this mission as well as the historic modernist building designed by Erich Mendelsohn. Functioning as both a pre-professional school and a community center, COCA serves many different types of stakeholders with classes for children and adults in dance, theater, and the visual arts.
Among the design challenges are respectfully modernizing a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places; fitting the expansion on a very constrained site; and phasing the project to keep performance spaces and parking intact until new facilities can replace them.
The addition will include a new state-of-the-art 450-seat Proscenium Theatre/Auditorium with back of house spaces and three new professional quality dance studios that will be shared with Washington University’s Master of Fine Arts in Dance program. In the Mendelsohn building, six existing performing and visual arts studios will be renovated and the original synagogue will be restored and transformed into a flexible Performance Lab rehearsal space.