KCI Construction performed much-needed renovations and upgrades on the St. Louis County Courts to create a more welcoming experience for citizens.
Founded in 1922, KCI Construction Company began as a carpentry construction firm named Kloster Company, then became Kloster Construction. Kloster concentrated on schools, churches and single-family homes from the 1930s-1950s, eventually adding concrete and other types of construction to its capabilities through the direction of its founder, Charles Kloster. In 1955, Kloster's two sons, Barney and George Kloster, joined the firm and expanded the direction of the company by adding hospital construction.
After several successful years, the company transitioned again in 1984 to a group that included Karl Kloster, George Kloster Jr., Kevin Kloster, Richard Grebel and Doug Jones. The company maintained the founding focus and expertise of self-performed carpentry and concrete work with hospital construction, but the new group realigned the company's direction to also include sewer, heavy concrete, deep foundation, highway and bridge construction. While the scope of work expanded, the reach expanded as well, outside of St. Louis to include eastern Missouri.
In the mid-'90s, the company changed its name to KCI Construction Company, as it known today. While KCI has built a distinct reputation as a concrete contractor, the company has evolved over the years to provide complete construction service, depending on what the project or client requires.
"We boast experience as a self-performing general contractor, a construction manager and a design-builder," the company says. "Our diverse capabilities and stable force of union tradespersons allow us to work successfully on many different types of projects and has resulted in an exemplary record of quality and complete customer satisfaction."
KCI also prides itself on remaining one of the more diverse contractors in the St. Louis area, with the expertise and ability to successfully perform on a wide range of projects. "Any one of us can be found working on a design-build multi-story building one day, then a wastewater plant following and highway infrastructure after that," the company notes.
Family Courts Project
KCI won the bid for the St. Louis County Courts project after a panel reviewed the existing building in 2008 and determined the crumbling and outdated facility – built in the late 1960s – was in desperate need of major upgrades.
The county's existing Family Courts facility had numerous problems, including a chronic lack of space that often required crime victims to sit within a few feet of their accused assailants. Plus, many of its staffers were using offices that were originally detention cells. Additionally, the building had security issues that left judges and staff vulnerable in chambers and hallways, with many patrons forced to wait in time-eating security lines to be individually admitted.
After years of political debates and voter rejection of funding measures, KCI was finally selected in September 2013 as the best value to construct the renovations and additions. KCI received the highest technical score for the design-build proposal, and teamed with Fentress Architects as the lead design firm.
"What was great 42 years ago provides very poor support today," County Executive Charlie A. Dooley said in a statement. "The services of our family court have changed but our facility has remained the same; it's out of step with the needs of the court and the families who rely on these services."
The 380,000-square-foot project broke ground May 2014 and was completed in August 2016. The project consolidated the Family Court – including juvenile detention – with the Circuit Court into more modern, state-of-the-art facilities at the St. Louis County Court Complex.
In addition, KCI performed major upgrades to the existing courthouse and its infrastructure with a goal of LEED Silver Certification. These upgrades included:
- Renovations to the four-story parking garage under the building;
- Improved public way-finding and circulation;
- Upgrades to mechanical, electrical and security systems;
- New elevators; and
- A complete revamping of the security configuration and redesign of the jury assembly rooms.
Now that KCI's work is complete, all family/juvenile court and detention operations currently conducted at the Family Courts Center have been permanently relocated to the new, unified Courts Complex. The addition of 13 new courtrooms and jury assembly room will allow the facility to meet the growing judicial needs of St. Louis County. The Family Courts site can now accommodate 43 courtrooms and 1,099 parking spaces. KCI and Fentress wanted the project to unifying the site into a cohesive whole and provide an accessible and welcoming experience for St. Louis citizens.