Two multifamily buildings use custom color to make a statement

Case Study

Gateway Lofts Use Nichiha AWP to Reflect Neighborhood Personality

Flush with history, The Grove neighborhood in St. Louis, MO is one of the city’s most eclectic and bustling areas for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Deliberately free of chain restaurants, the area is home to vibrant nightlife, nightclubs, shops, breweries, and restaurants of all varieties. 

Since its late 19th century days of serving nearby working-class residents, The Grove has undergone a multitude of changes, and is today a jewel in St. Louis’ cultural crown.

To house residents of such an eclectic area in a new mixed-use apartment building at 4400 Manchester Ave, developer Restoration St. Louis sought out a look that balanced The Grove’s masonry-heavy traditional look with a contemporary aesthetic. Enter: Nichiha Architectural Wall Panels (AWP), which mimic the look of wood, concrete and brick but install on a hidden track system. Comprised of fiber cement, Nichiha AWP feature a built-in rainscreen that offers moisture management and are ideal for commercial or residential applications.

From the time project managers placed the order for Nichiha AWP in 2017 to the completed installation in 2018, Nichiha worked closely with designers to translate their vision into an affordable, durable exterior that met the contemporary look of the evolving neighborhood.

Because Nichiha panels are backed to engage with a clever clip system, the installation of Illumination, VintageWood, and IndustrialBlock panels were easily performed with a four-worker crew. The result is a façade of brown and assorted blue panels sitting above a first floor clad with crimson brick, a nod to the traditional look of the neighborhood.

A Look So Nice, They Made It Twice. 

Following the completion of 4400 Manchester, Restoration St. Louis undertook a project to build a sister apartment building at 4440 Manchester Ave. This newer building would also feature retail space on the ground floor.

Though 4440 Manchester has the same clean-lined shape and design as 4400, the façade takes on more design risks, being clad with a mixture of green and sand Nichiha panels above an onyx black brick first floor. Though it uses two of the same materials as its sister building, 4440 swapped IndustrialBlock for a subtle change of VintageWood in the color Spruce. Keeping the cladding with Nichiha for both buildings was no accident, either.

“They were looking for something that was not only unique, but also affordable,” said Shawn Hulsey, territory manager and Nichiha representative for the project. “You’re able to do that with Nichiha. One design, one manufacturer, one warranty.”

Color & Expression

Perhaps the most obvious difference between 4400 and 4440 Manchester lies in the bold color choices for 4440’s façade.

The northwest corner of 4440 Manchester boasts a spectrum of colored Nichiha panels that culminate in a vibrant rainbow, a unique visual nod to The Grove’s significant number of LGBT-oriented businesses. In total, 17 unique Nichiha colors were chosen of 22 sampled.

The custom-colored exterior of 4440 rebukes the assumption that color costs more. With Nichiha panels, architects can utilize color however they please with no additional cost.

“The ability to choose from a color spectrum for designs like this is a perfect fit,” said Hulsey. “Nichiha doesn’t have a minimum quantity requirement or set up charge. This lets designers sort through many color offerings to find the one that best fits their aesthetic. It really affords architects and developers a unique opportunity for expression.”

Legendary Nichiha Durability

Missouri’s climate cannot be overlooked when considering which products to use on a project. Because the Show-Me state averages more than 30 tornadoes annually, it is vital that builders select materials that can withstand mother nature’s worst storms.

“It’s rare to have to replace a Nichiha panel, even when it’s been exposed to severe weather,” said Hulsey. “Most panels that need to be replaced are from man-made damage. But should a panel in the middle of a façade need to be fixed, for instance, replacement only requires the removal of the damaged panel and an adjoining panel. It makes the process simple and headache free.”

Nichiha’s seamless installation process, bounty of available colors at no additional cost, and durability ensure that the residents and businesses of 4400 and 4440 Manchester will live for years in a building that maintains its striking curb appeal.



4400 Manchester: 30,930 sq. ft. of Nichiha AWP

  • 10,890 Sq. Ft. of VintageWood Cedar
  • 15,840 sq. ft. of Custom Color Illumination
  • 4,200 sq. ft. of IndustrialBlock

4440 Manchester: 21,475 sq. ft. of Nichiha AWP

  • 6,660 sq. ft. of VintageWood Cedar
  • 3,007 sq. ft. of VintageWood Spruce
  • 11,808 sq. ft. of Custom Color Illumination

Number of Crew Members:

  • 4400: Four to install Nichiha panels
  • 4440: Unknown (COVID)
The Challenge

Reflect the neighborhood’s eccentric past and present through a trendy, inclusive design. Afford architects with an avenue for bold expression, but one that doesn’t detract from the neighborhood’s evolving look.

The Solution

A pair of modern multifamily apartment buildings that house residents of all ages in The Grove, one of St. Louis’ most historic and progressive neighborhoods.

The Results

A total of 17 Nichiha custom colors were selected between two properties, with one having a conservative design and the other featuring the bold rainbow colors of an LGBTQ+ flag. The look strikes a balance between tradition and progress and will easily withstand severe weather native to Missouri.

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