Building Something Gigantic: A First Look at the Fifth Floor

Shrouded in mystery and sand since T-REx roared into the Lammert Building three months ago, the fifth floor is beginning to take shape. And after a tour with Steve Trampe from the T-REX Board of Directors, we know a little more about what is coming from all of this construction and what it means for T-REx and its new space.

Construction is due for completion in late August, and when the dust has settled the fifth floor will be home to T-REx’s new entranceway and lobby level—but this isn’t just going to be a reception area. Steve outlined three goals for the space. It will be functional and versatile first and foremost. But it will also have the capacity to constantly evolve, to change with entrepreneurs’ peripatetic thoughts and sudden sharp insights. And the space should act as a physical manifestation of T-REx’s mission to both nurture and provoke.

Enter the fifth floor from the elevators and you’re presented with three immediate options. To your left is a new coworking area, an open field of windows and floor space that mimics the expanse and atmosphere of the Law Library on the seventh floor. To the right, a decked-out café area and break room borders a giant events space, soon to become the new home for all the presentations, happy hours, workshops, and other entrepreneurial shindigs that T-REx now generally hosts in the Law Library. Directly in front of you is the reception area, and behind that is a suite of rooms for generating, presenting, and fine-tuning your ideas.

Construction around the events space of the 5th floor.
Framing around the new events space.

While the bulk of T-REx company offices are going to remain on other floors of the Lammert Building, the fifth floor is meant to be a hub, a community space for work and play. But it’s difficult to explain how these rooms that don’t yet exist are going to function so continuously as game-changers for T-REx and its companies and partners, so here’s the impressive (and partial!) list of new and notable features:

In the coworking space:

  • Sponsored meeting rooms, including a “University Row” of rooms sponsored by St. Louis-area colleges
  • An “idea wall” made out of Velcro-like material where you can literally “throw it up against the wall”—making the wildest ideas accessible to the entire T-REx community for inspiration and motivation
  • TV monitors on the walls around the coworking tables, controllable from your laptop
  • A lounge area with antique and designer chairs from across the ages, demonstrating the flexibility of design

In the events area:

  • A game room
  • Two (two!) bars, capped by cast-iron panels retrieved from the old Century Building before its demolition
  • A fireplace for those cold days when ideas are slow in coming

In the rest of the floor:

  • Monitors around the entire floor to broadcast events and presentations elsewhere in the building and outside (Cards games!)
  • A classroom/training room with a lectern for practicing presentations or giving workshops
  • The “Egg”—for ‘hatching’ ideas, perhaps?—a facility for presentations and board meetings, which hosts a shadowbox-style acrylic and wood table that can hold revolving ‘exhibits’ of company products or designs, or even artwork
  • The “Hopper”—inspired by Minecraft, beer, or idiom, we don’t know—a pair of breakout rooms for sifting through ideas and plucking out those worth another look
Construction around The Hopper.
Construction around The Hopper.

With all of these additions to our space, it’s easy to see why the redevelopment of the fifth floor is going to make T-REx even more vibrant, productive, and stimulating than it already is. But it also speaks to the uniqueness of the T-REx community in the company of other incubators, coworking groups, and entrepreneurial networks. Beyond the bar and the fireplace and the games, the new area will be a multifunctional space, constructed to fit the variable and complex needs of the eighty-plus companies represented on the walls of the seventh floor. Look forward to late August not only for your post-work beers, inter-meeting rounds of Crazy Taxi*, and customizable spaces for presentation, but also for what it means for the tech startup community in St. Louis, for the city of St. Louis, and for Missouri as a whole: that it’s all growing, growing in nuanced and diverse ways. And that people are willing and eager to help it grow. The development of the fifth floor is just another (gigantic) step.

*Disclaimer: There has actually been no official mention of Crazy Taxi—more’s the pity. But watch out for a survey of possible game room options!