Ursa's Café

St. Louis, MO
Posted September 18, 2001

"Create a space students will remember long after they leave" was the directive to St. Louis architects Mackey Mitchell Associates and environmental graphic design firm Ten8 Group for Ursa's Café at Washington University.

Ten8's involvement was purely accidental. The architect approached the firm looking for someone to fabricate a foam coffee cup, and Ten8 ended up collaborating on the design -- even penning the name. Designers developed a gaming theme as the basis for the 7500-square-foot student café. Ursa's signature logo at the entrance, reminiscent of Vanna's spinning letters, consists of individual letters set in three-sided cabinets that rotate via a motor on top. Inside, the café is split into the lounge and café areas. A backgammon pattern plays prominently on the walls, hearth and tabletops of the lounge, and on the walls of the adjacent cybercafe. But the attic game room is where patterns play out three-dimensionally: Perforated moon patterns enliven one wall, while on another, four layers of security mirrors give the effect of chips falling.

Client Team: Washington University, St. Louis -- Tim Rogan, project manager; Jim Severine, manager of building services, housing and residential life Environmental

Design and Graphics: Ten8 Group Inc., St. Louis -- Heather Testa, Dawn Jungermann, Jonathan Bryant, Hector Ciazza, Nancy Compas, Deb Pilutti, Matt McInerney and Grant Gibson, design team

Architect: Mackey Mitchell Associates, St. Louis

Suppliers: Engraphix, St. Louis, Star Signs & Graphics Inc., Lawrence, Kan. (signage/graphics); Midwest Marketing, Peoria, Ill. (installation of window film in Cyber Café); Artfull Tile & Mirror, St. Louis (mirrored wall)

Photography: Barclay Goeppner, St. Louis