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Gravois Park is a unique neighborhood for its density and diversity, yet it is troubled with issues of economic disparity and crime at a rate similar to north St. Louis. Research shows that low income and education lead into crime. Gravois Park confirms this by showing the lowest education levels of degrees attained within the City of St. Louis, along with some of the highest high school dropout rates for the public schools. School readiness, particularly among poor children, may help prevent the cascade of consequences of early academic failure and school behavioral problems. Specifically, the years before a child reaches kindergarten are among the most critical in his or her life to influence learning. Head Start programs to combat these issues are scattered throughout St. Louis, although are generally concentrated in the north side of the city. These Head Start programs are limited to those who are at or below the poverty line. They are 80% federally funded, while the remaining 20% must be generated from the community, whether that be by donations or volunteering. Therefore, Gravois Park could benefit from the addition of an Early Head Start program, along with a prenatal education program, that will be inclusive to people above the poverty line in order to cover the 20% while promoting socioeconomic diversity. Early education increases students’ motivation and performance in subsequent years, ultimately leading to higher educational attainment and reduced drop-out rates. As part of their development, children need greater exposure to sunlight. The building at 3654 S. Grand though receives none on the interior since all of its window have been filled in and plastered over. As part of the historical preservation strategy, the arched windows along the west and south sides will be restored. In addition, the north side of the building is carved out to allow the penetration of light in the interior. The classrooms for the children will be situated around these voids in order to light the classrooms with natural light while also the day while also giving direct access to the outdoor play area. The indoor play area is located along the south windows to incentivize play. The residences, along the east side, will also be carved out with voids to create communal outdoor spaces. Some spaces will create interaction among the adjacent residents’ units. The roof of the Head Start program will be available for all of the residents.

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Subject Categories

Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning

Rights Statement

© 2016 Amanda Malone


Graduate student work from an architecture studio led by Catalina Freixas (Fall 2016) to envision a new use for the former International Institute of St. Louis (IISTL) site,

Early Beginnings: Inclusive Early Head Start Program