Not everyone knows that the Build-A-Bear headquarter office is in St. Louis, right at Union Station. To mark their 25th business anniversary, Build-A-Bear wanted to create something unique to enhance the visitor experience outside of their flagship Build-A-Bear studio and home offices to celebrate the milestone. Working with a team of architects and contractors in St. Louis, we reimagined an unused outdoor area with the iconic Build-A-Bear bear as a sculpture for the centerpiece. See how we transformed the otherwise ordinary – and uninspiring – front entrance at the headquarter offices of Build-A-Bear into an inviting outdoor plaza for visitors to enjoy, and take memories with!
Build-A-Bear Sculpture & Patio Design/Build at Union Station
Union Station has seen some amazing improvements lately, and the outdoor courtyard adjacent to the Build-A-Bear buildings were overgrown, with a landscape that has taken over with traditional landscape plants that don’t provide dimension or impress.
You can see that ivy has taken over the garden beds, and the uncared for rose bushes look scraggly with very few flowers. This landscape wasn’t planted with overall interest in mind, but rather to establish a few ornamental plants that at the time were considered crowd-pleasers and easy to take care of. Both of these plants definitely got overplayed in the 80’s!
The courtyard renovation began with a full tear out of unwanted garden plants so we could level the dirt to create an outdoor patio with a wraparound retaining wall and border detailing to help the layout act as a pedestal for the eventual bear sculpture installation, which was going in last. You can already see how much more functional space this clearing and grading work has already provided. An entirely new space is created right next to the Union Station parking lot and front entrance of Build-A-Bear.
This hardscaping project needed special detailing and features to serve as the pedestrian space for the bear sculpture that will be placed in the middle of the new paver patio. We created an actual pedestal for the bear to be placed on, along with a decorative border in a diamond shape to make it easier for the bear to be used as a cute backdrop for photos.
With the hardscaped area in place, Henry our construction crew leader was able to test the space we needed for the sculpture placement. Brick, stone pavers, and concrete were used to add seating and a focal point to this section of the courtyard garden space in between the two buildings. Next we started planting an ideal selection of foundational plantings that are both tall and thick enough to naturally hide the parking lot and ‘concrete jungle’ located just beyond the courtyard. These mostly evergreen plantings help to establish the feeling of an outdoor room or special spot that families can enjoy while visiting Build-A-Bear or any of Union Station’s many family-friendly attractions. We planted a design featuring Crimson Queen Japanese Maples, Green Velvet Boxwoods, Taylor Junipers, and Alberta Spruces to add natural beauty in the plaza area.
With the bear sculpture in place, outdoor lighting and final touch-ups were made to increase night-time visibility and promote accessibility to visitors year-round. Everyone is welcome to visit the public outdoor space directly next to the Union Station South Lot off of S 18th Street at the entrance of the parking lot and next to the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Union Station. The life-sized bear is ready for photos, memories, and time well spent enjoying downtown St. Louis. The bear sculpture is reminiscent of the bear seen in the iconic logo design of Build-A-Bear, with the design reflecting the well-known Heart Ceremony with the red heart on the bear’s chest.
We were so honored to be a part of the team that brought this outdoor art space to life. Artifex was the lead architect and we worked with Garden Heights Nursery to purchase evergreens and surrounding plants. The project took several months of demolition, tear-out, and final installation of all pieces. The pavers used were Whitacre Greer engravable pavers in 8″ x 8″. Surrounding pavers were sourced from Pine Hall Brick, with retaining wall / sitting wall made from Versa-lok Brittany Beige color blend stone blocks.
You can see even more videos and photos of the process on our Instagram page. We know this public outdoor space will provide enjoyment and a feel of community for Build-A-Bear visitors and the team that makes all of the magic happen at the headquarters office. We congratulate the iconic company on 25 years in business in 2022! Thank you for making us a part of the magic in your celebrating of bringing joy to the world with personalized teddy bears. Learn more about Build-A-Bear here: https://www.buildabear.com/
To start your own outdoor renovation project, contact us to get an expert opinion and quote for bringing your outdoor dreams to life with hardscaping, plants, irrigation, outdoor lighting, or more specialized projects like this, or an outdoor labyrinth, art installation, or public garden space.