KAI Enterprises is continuing its legacy of transforming communities with design renovations for expanded community services at the Bayer YMCA in North St. Louis. The facility’s grand re-opening was held on Nov. 10.

The Bayer YMCA has a historic past. After several attempts, it was founded in 1912 as the Afro-American Young Men's Christian Home Association. In 1964, its Junior Kindergarten program, which was initiated as part of the White House's program on early education, became a model for the national Head Start program.

As part of the Gateway Region YMCA’s strategic plan and capital development initiative, the Bayer YMCA, formerly called the Monsanto Family YMCA, at 5555 Page Blvd. underwent a $2.5 million renovation to upgrade its facilities and expand its services. KAI Design provided architectural design, project management and MEP/FP engineering on the project and worked in concert with the organization’s program manager and architectural consultant, GRO Development, to meet the YMCA’s design expectations for the renovation. PARIC Corporation served as the general contractor on the project.

“The renovations to the 19,000-square-foot space did not include any expansion of the building's actual footprint, but instead KAI took the existing underutilized space to create higher-performing spaces to better meet the needs of the community, such as enlarging lobby spaces, creating new fitness areas, updating finishes, increasing the number of group exercise rooms, adding a family changing room and improving accessibility,” said KAI Senior Project Manager Joel Kerschen, AIA, CSI. “We have updated the existing space for a more modern look and use. The facility was built almost 40 years ago, with its last major update 20 years ago. The new design puts an emphasis on positive spaces for teen and child activities and community interaction.”

The Bayer YMCA renovations include the following:

  • Expanded Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC). The ECEC will provide a safe and nurturing environment for children 6 weeks through 5 years old in a state licensed facility.
  • Expanded health and wellness services. An expanded fitness area and new fitness programs will allow more individuals to take part in the Y's Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, Diabetes Prevention and other chronic disease prevention programs to meet growing community needs.
  • New Bayer Teen Tech Center. A state-of-the-art technology center will offer a variety of STEAM activities, including robotics, coding classes and gaming, STEM camps and family STEM nights. This space and the new mezzanine above it will also allow for increased enrollment in the Learning Labs program, which allows students who are underperforming in reading or math to improve.
  • New teen area with a mezzanine for E-Sports.
  • New STEM Focused Community Kitchen. A modernized STEM Focused Community Kitchen and expanded community garden will provide more education and food outreach in a community recognized as a "food desert" and in need of healthy eating resources.
  • New family changing room. These facilities will provide a safe environment for families with young children.

“We are extremely proud of our newly renovated space for many reasons. Additional programming allows us to continue to serve the North St. Louis community and the many challenges that we face, said Bayer YMCA Executive Director Marcus Wilson at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This wouldn’t be made possible without the generosity of Bayer.”

The renovation project was supported by a $1.5 million gift from Bayer and a separate $1 million anonymous donor gift.