Bringing Wellness and STEAM Opportunities to Community Youth

Bayer YMCA
Gateway Region YMCA
St. Louis, MO

As part of the Gateway Region YMCA’s strategic plan and capital development initiative, the Bayer YMCA, formerly called the Monsanto Family YMCA, underwent a $2.5 million renovation to upgrade its facilities and expand its services. KAI Design provided architectural design, project management and MEP/FP engineering on the project and worked in concert with the organization’s program manager and architectural consultant, GRO Development, to meet the YMCA’s design expectations for the renovation.

The Bayer YMCA renovations included the following:

  • Expanded Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC). The ECEC will provide a safe and nurturing environment for children 6 weeks through 5 years old in a state licensed facility.
  • Expanded health and wellness services. An expanded fitness area and new fitness programs will allow more individuals to take part in the Y’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, Diabetes Prevention and other chronic disease prevention programs to meet growing community needs.
  • New Bayer Teen Tech CenterA state-of-the-art technology center will offer a variety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) activities, including robotics, coding classes and gaming, STEAM camps and family STEAM nights. This space and the new mezzanine above it will also allow for increased enrollment in the Learning Labs program, which allows students who are underperforming in reading or math to improve.
  • New teen area with a mezzanine for E-Sports.
  • New STEAM Focused Community Kitchen. A modernized STEAM Focused Community Kitchen and expanded community garden will provide more education and food outreach in a community recognized as a “food desert” and in need of healthy eating resources.
  • New family changing room. These facilities will provide a safe environment for families with young children.

The renovations to the 19,000 SF space did not include any expansion of the building’s actual footprint. Instead, KAI took the existing underutilized space to create higher-performing spaces in order to meet the needs of its community, such as enlarging lobby spaces, updating finishes, increasing the number of group exercise rooms, adding a family changing room and improving accessibility.


Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Plumbing Engineering, Project Management, Fire Protection Engineering

“We are extremely proud of our newly renovated space for many reasons. Additional programming allows us to continue to serve the North St. Louis community and the many challenges that we face."

Marcus Wilson, Executive Director
Bayer YMCA

The Impact

Furthering a Youth-Focused Legacy

The Bayer YMCA has a historic past. After several attempts, it was founded in 1912 as the Afro-American Young Men’s Christian Home Association. In 1964, its Junior Kindergarten program, which was initiated as part of the White House’s program on early education, became a model for the national Head Start program. The new design continues this legacy, focusing on creating positive spaces for teen and child activities as well as community interaction.

Project Recognition

Building St. Louis Awards 2021, Winner of Renovation or Conversion Project Less than $5 Million