Architecture, Made in St. Louis, Mid-century St. Louis, Ted Christner

About St. Louis Architect Ted Christner

Ted Christner, born in Quincy in 1932, said he showed an aptitude for design as early as the fifth grade. “I was always able to draw things and to indicate what my ideas were on paper.”

After attending Highland School and Quincy High School, Christner graduated from Washington University’s School of Architecture in 1957. He worked at existing companies before founding his own practice, Theodore Christner & Associates, in 1963.

Ted was the kind of architect who saw projects that others didn’t see, and then made them happen. He was the force behind some of the most iconic projects in St. Louis – among others, approaching Forest Park Forever with the great idea of restoring the Jewel Box and turning it into a venue for special events. No matter the project, Ted was passionate about helping to preserve and enhance our community and its landmarks through smart thinking and great design.

Project Spotlight


COCA, Center of Creative Arts Expansion – St. Louis, Missouri
The mission of the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) is to “enrich lives and build community through the arts.” The collaboration of Christner + Axi:Ome is designing a renovation and facility expansion that will honor this mission as well as the historic modernist building designed by Erich Mendelsohn. Functioning as both a pre-professional school and a community center, COCA serves many different types of stakeholders with classes for children and adults in dance, theater, and the visual arts.

Among the design challenges are respectfully modernizing a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places; fitting the expansion on a very constrained site; and phasing the project to keep performance spaces and parking intact until new facilities can replace them.

The addition includes a new state-of-the-art 450-seat Proscenium Theatre/Auditorium with back of house spaces and three new professional quality dance studios that will be shared with Washington University’s Master of Fine Arts in Dance program. In the Mendelsohn building, six existing performing and visual arts studios will be renovated and the original synagogue will be restored and transformed into a flexible Performance Lab rehearsal space.


Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House and Education Center – Chesterfield, Missouri
Christner designed this new butterfly house and education center for a sunny meadow in St. Louis County’s Faust Park. Visitors to this beautiful sanctuary, which is home to 60 species of butterfly and tropical flowering plants, experience the wonders of a fragile ecosystem within the conservatory’s graceful glass and steel structure. In response to the educational mission of the butterfly house, Christner also incorporated a theater, a multi-purpose education room, and large exhibit hall.


Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Expansion – St. Louis, Missouri
This laboratory building expansion supports the research center’s mission to “improve the human condition through plant science.” New facilities for 100 scientists enable world-class research in plant biology, bioenergy, and sustainable agriculture.

Our design team created highly efficient open lab “neighborhoods” directly connected to write-up spaces. Visual connectivity is enhanced with glass partitions, affording transparent views into the labs from the public corridor on the first floor, and opening views to the native gardens and greenhouses on the upper floors. In keeping with the original iconic structure designed by Grimshaw Architects, the addition is a precisely crafted, simple volume comprised of terracotta and glass.


The Jewel Box Restoration – St. Louis, Missouri
The Jewel Box, designed by the city’s chief engineer, William C.E. Becker in 1936, remains one of St. Louis’ most unusual buildings with its unique combination of functional design and art deco style. Christner breathed new life into the conservatory, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While maintaining the original character and footprint of the building, we restored the entire structure and reconfigured the interior to allow flexibility for floral displays, weddings and special events.


Missouri Botanical Garden, Stephen & Peter Sachs Museum Renovation & Addition – St. Louis, Missouri 
The original 7,000 square foot museum is a Georgian structure, built in 1859 for the purpose of housing the Garden’s original library, herbarium and natural history specimens. After being closed to the public for over 35 years, this historic gem underwent a major restoration and addition. Due to significant accessibility issues, the addition provides better access to the museum and expanded restroom facilities. The restoration and addition project also provides a meeting venue for weddings, exhibitions, presentations and business meetings.

The first objective was the restoration of the historic interior. The work included replicating the original painted ceiling and restoring the Fresco portraits discovered during construction. Working with the Botanical Garden and the National Park Service, it was deemed important that the addition respond to the simplicity of the original building, but also be distinct and contextual.

The 2,150 square foot addition is designed with a contemporary use of stone, distinguishing it from the existing building and reflecting current building technologies and materiality. A glass volume creates a formal entry on the north façade while the south façade is comprised of a modern limestone finish. The limestone masses define transparent entries both on the north and south facades. As a whole, the addition is simple, yet unique; providing much-needed access and facilities in a building that subtly complements the original historic structure.


Pulitzer Arts Foundation – St. Louis, Missouri
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation is the second building in the United States to be designed by internationally known Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Christner was Architect of Record, providing technical design support, construction documentation and construction administration services for this important project.

The 27,000 sf two-story structure was conceived to further the understanding of the relationship between art and architecture and to help define how the setting influences the appreciation of art. The building includes exhibit space, library and offices brought together with a formal spatial vocabulary, meticulously detailed and finished concrete surfaces, and dramatic use of daylight. In 2014, the Foundation decided to complete Ando’s vision for the building by renovating the lower level into additional gallery space and Christner was again engaged on this 5,000 sf project. Two galleries, restrooms, and a monumental concrete stair were included in the renovation.


Barnes-Jewish West County Replacement Hospital – Crever Coeur, Missouri
The vision of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital is to be the hospital of choice for short-stay surgical and medical care. The need to replace an aging community hospital also represented the opportunity to extend the Barnes-Jewish Hospital brand and create a platform that supported multiple initiatives: a high-productivity outpatient surgery and procedure facility, increased visibility and support for the Siteman Cancer Center, and inpatient and outpatient services to serve as the anchor to clinics of Washington University Physicians in existing and new MOBs. Planning for the project fully develops the existing, 10-acre, suburban site. Site planning defined the addition and replacement of MOBs as well as expansion of the hospital’s capabilities.

Residential Spotlight

10 Terry Hill
I sold this home that was designed by Ted Christner in 2016. It had been completely renovated by the owner and Howard Koblenz using the finest luxury materials. From the nickel-plated hardware to the Calacatta Oro marble counters, every surface was pleasing to the eye & touch.

1160 Lay Road
Currently listed for is this important mid-century home located on a 1.3+ acre lot. Located in the Ladue School District. This home features an open floor plan, main floor master suite with a luxurious bathroom, and lovely pool. See more HERE

23 Balcon Estates
This gorgeous home was sold by Jen Svoboda in 2018. It has
been lovingly renovated, and sits on a lush one acre lot. The Main floor has a versatile open floor plan with many huge windows for day long natural light.

Information from christnerinc.com