St. Louis’ HOK uses light to turn apartment building into work of art

February 01, 2013  |  Staff Writer  |  Print Article  |  Email this Article


Commercial real estate can be art, something that St. Louis-based architectural firm HOK has proven at the Council Tower Apartments in St. Louis.

Using a specially designed bank of high-intensity lights, HOK has etched a light sculpture into the façade of the Council Tower Apartments.  The sculpture, created by Saunders Schultz and William Severson in 1970, was reproduced as part of the building’s $40 million renovation as low-income senior housing by Clayton-based Bruce Development Co.

The Council Tower Apartments are located at 310 S Grand Ave. in Midtown St. Louis.

The 260-foot-high work of art is called “Finite-Infinite,” alluding to the Gateway Arch, which the building faces more than two miles to the east, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting in which God and Adam almost touch.

“In illuminating this beautiful sculpture by Schultz and Severson, the lighting design needed a balance between intensity, color temperature and uniformity,” said David Ziolkowski, the architectural lighting designer for HOK who collaborated with colleague Kevin Sexton on the project. “Our biggest challenge was Forest Park Parkway as that was where we would ideally locate lights.  Instead, the equipment had to be positioned quite close to the building.  The end result is a soft wash of light that allows the artwork to be the focus.”

On the west side of the building, theatrical lights are used to give the building’s verticality a unique presence at night.

Joining HOK on the project were general contractor EM Harris Construction Co. and the electrical contractor Kay-Bee Electric.

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