As architects, it’s a joy to be involved with a client whose strategic goal is catalyzing a neighborhood’s economic and cultural revitalization. It’s better yet when that client succeeds immediately and significantly. The East Side Enterprise Center (ESEC) is the brainchild of two formidable community leaders who coalesced a neighborhood’s disparate cultural and ethnic communities, leveraged available City community grants and loans, and harnessed the creative potential of committed local community organizations.

The ESEC is the resource center for small, local, and entrepreneurial businesses on the East Side of St. Paul - the crux of a community’s resurgent pride and future viability.

ESEC asked us to create the vessel for this vision, an environment where diverse populations would feel welcome to meet, learn, congregate, and thrive together. 

Our “before” building was a jumble of attached, yet unrelated structures, including a historic 1895 building, an unholy 1970’s addition, and a large warehouse in the back, connected by a maze of internal ramps, steps, and uneven floors. From this, we were asked to work magic.