Newsletter – Issue 31
A.J. Brown Completes Work on Historically Significant Museum
A.J. Brown provided construction services for a culturally and historically significant undertaking for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. The project, which encompasses new construction and renovation of the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, was begun in 2020 and is now open to the public.
The overall design of the project is intended to represent Kristallnacht, or the Night of Shattered Glass, the phrase Nazi perpetrators, and international newspapers, used to describe the violent pogrom of November 9-10, 1930. Kristallnacht was a night of rioting and violence perpetrated against Jews living in Berlin in the days leading up to World War II. In the aftermath, shattered glass from Jewish-owned stores and synagogues littered the streets. The Holocaust Museum uses themes of brokenness on its exterior and interior as reminders of the event.
The addition to the museum’s exterior is composed of tall stone panels, four feet wide by 11 feet high, which are suspended on a rainscreen system. In addition, the front entry is composed of undulating glass and glazing utilizing bullet-resistant glass and safety glass. “Our biggest challenge at the beginning of this project was accurately estimating costs,” says A.J. Brown Principal Doug Rendleman. “The undulating glass system had never been done before, but we found a company that was prepared to work with us.” A.J. Brown collaborated with the selected provider, helping to develop a plan to execute the design while meeting the pertinent earthquake zone requirements.
The lobby of the museum repeats the theme of brokenness by incorporating stone panels with a shattered appearance and a suspended, floating ceiling that echoes the look of shattered materials. In total, the renovation and construction project includes approximately 34,360 square feet: 8,000 square feet in the museum itself; 2,760 square feet in a special exhibition space; 900 square feet for a library; 1,200 square feet for archive space; and 3,100 square feet of space for a multipurpose room.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges, as the project broke ground shortly after the world-wide shutdown began. “Labor and material shortages plagued the project,” Rendleman says. “We worked closely with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the subcontractors to keep rising costs in line.” The project also was challenged by unusual rainfall activity. A.J. Brown rescheduled and resequenced various activities to keep the project moving forward.
Working with architectural firms TR,i and Gallagher, A.J. Brown constructed the interior of the museum as a path that represents the personal journey of individual Jews—some from the St. Louis area—as they experienced World War II and its aftermath. The design includes installation of special lighting that enhances a visitor’s experience, making use of color and light intensity.
“The majority of our projects have not included design concepts like the ones we employed while working with the Jewish Federation,” says Rendleman. “Thanks to the extensive experience A.J. Brown has in the pre-construction phase of the projects we undertake, we have the ability to accurately price nearly any type of construction. Our ability to control costs is one of our biggest successes with this project.” Rendleman adds: “We’re especially proud of what we’ve accomplished at the Holocaust Museum, an institution that declares an essential message to all of us.”
“Thanks to the extensive experience A.J. Brown has in the pre-construction phase of the projects we undertake, we have the ability to accurately price nearly any type of construction. Our ability to control costs is one of our biggest successes with this project.”
A.J. Brown, Inc.
Working for you
A.J. Brown is committed to clear communication and time-proven management strategies, all designed to deliver a construction project that meets client goals. “We make it our business to understand our clients’ business objectives so we can help them succeed,” says Rendleman. “We’re here to make you look good.”
If you’re looking for the right partner for your next construction project, talk to A.J. Brown. You can reach Doug Rendleman at 636-537-3636.