Project Completion: Montessori Training Center of Saint Louis


UIC is excited to have just wrapped up construction of the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis.  Situated at 3854 Washington Avenue in Grand Center, this new facility will both train future teachers and certify them in Montessori education. It will also have a school on-site in which experience teachers and teachers in training will work with infants and Toddlers.

Lewis and Annette Haines, founders of the Center, have been dedicated to Montessori education for decades and are known globally for their work, writing, and instruction. Their facility is one of just a few located in the States, and will draw local teachers as well as teachers from Central and Eastern Europe and South America, Taiwan and Russia, all of who will come to St.Louis specifically for this school.


Montessori education and instruction emphasizes independence as well as a respect for a child’s natural development.  Part of Montessori training includes teaching young children to clean-up after themselves but also to take turns serving their fellow classmates.  Low cabinets and sinks were installed at the center so that children aged 3-5 can wash plates and prepare meals.
The Montessori Training Center is another welcome addition to the ever-developing Grand Center area, and UIC was excited to be a part of this redevelopment. We will continue to work with The Montessori Training Center as they complete their master plan in Grand Center.

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Botanical Heights: Big Events, Small Businesses!

The Botanical Heights neighborhood felt alive on Friday April 25th as 600 people came to celebrate the opening of our Tower Grove Mews project, along with the many new businesses and residents moving into the neighborhood!

There was delicious wood fired pizza provided by Union Loafers, great live music from talented St. Louisans, and enough Urban Chestnut beer to keep the party going into the wee hours. The UIC staff along with our co-hosts Slam Agency, Union Loafers, and Union Studio,  had an amazing time welcoming our friends and neighbors into our new office, and we cannot thank everyone who attended or helped out enough!


(Photo taken by Slam Agency, follow them @weareslam)

In case you missed it, here is a brief update of all the great new developments happening in the neighborhood, and what you can look forward to seeing this summer:


Union Loafers- If you tried any of the delicious bread or pizzas last Friday, you can thank Ted Wilson and the rest of the Union Loafers team. This bread bakery and café is coming very soon to the corner of Tower Grove and McRee (the former UIC office space.) Focusing on quality artisan bread, they will also be serving sandwiches, pizzas, and local beer. Joining Elaia & Olio and Chouquette, this intersection is soon becoming the culinary capitol of the city!


Slam Agency- This extremely energetic full-service digital creative agency is a great addition to Botanical Heights! Having recently moved into one of the commercial spaces along Tower Grove Avenue, they already feel right at home in the neighborhood and are ready to bring more of their creative genius to St. Louis.



Union Studio- Also residing in the commercial space along Tower Grove is this beautiful artist studio and children’s clothing retail space. Owner Mary Beth is not only selling her beautiful handmaid children’s clothing, she will also be offering art classes for both children and adults. It would be impossible not to be inspired walking into her whimsical space, so be sure to check it out soon!


Old Standard: If you have been to Elaia & Olio, or Salume Beddu, or any of Ben Poremba’s wildly popular St. Louis restaurants… you know that anything Ben touches will be beautiful, and delicious. This is absolutely true of his next restaurant: a fried chicken and whiskey bar, coming soon to the stable building of Tower Grove Mews.  If fried chicken didn’t spark your interest enough, Ben will also be serving house-made sodas, a wide array of American whiskey, and classic southern sides. You know where you will find the UIC staff on Fridays after 5!


GadellNet- This quickly growing full-service IT firm is moving into the former Lunar Tool Building on Vandeventer Avenue. We are excited to have such a prominent and forward-thinking business move into the neighborhood! This is a great stepping-stone to the further revitalization of the valuable Vandeventer corridor.

Along with the many new home constructions and renovations happening in Botanical Heights, these commercial additions are a critical part of the overall neighborhood development we are working towards. Be sure to visit our current businesses and keep your eyes out for the new ones coming soon!

James Hardie Cement Fiber Siding = Sustainability/Durability


One of the most common questions we get from home buyers and clients is, “What is cement fiber siding?” It is a product that looks like and can be installed like wood siding, however, it is much more durable and sustainable. UIC’s carpentry division, Blackbird Carpentry, installs tens of thousands of square feet of James Hardie Cement Fiber siding a year on most of the homes and some commercial projects that we build. It is a product that we stand behind in not only because it looks great, but it has up to a 30 year warranty and can be installed in a multitude of ways from the more traditional “lap” siding look to a more contemporary panelized look.

How does James Hardie Siding contribute to the sustainability and durability of a project?

  • Local manufacturing facilities support the regional economy and reduce transportation of materials costs.  We utilize a production plant in Peru, IL where our siding materials are manufactured.  Additionally, JH localizes their raw materials of sand, cement, recycled wood pulp and water, again reducing transportation and energy costs in the manufacturing process.
  • In the manufacturing process, JH recycles their water up to 4 times prior to returning the waste water to local treatment.
  • The materials used in cement fiber are long lasting, low maintenance which require less replacement and less post-installation waste.
  • James Hardie has committed their manufacturing processes on first-run quality, zero to landfill goals of reducing waste in manufacturing.
  • JH siding offers high durability, is rot resistant, pest resistant, and fame resistant, lending to homebuilding voluntary green guidelines, and greatly reduced cost of ownership.
  • After many years when paint starts to wear off, JH siding will maintain its water resistance until it is painted again. The cement fiber product will not absorb water, like wood.

Compared to vinyl, it is a much more substantial product. In a very strong wind, vinyl can detach, unlike Cement Fiber. It can also be painted and re-painted many times in any color and installed with a larger variety of trims than vinyl, giving it a more classic or modern look.

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Visit our build page to see more homes and projects that utilize fiber cement siding, and see how design and function meet to give a greener, more sustainable product that is beautiful.

Green Machines

When we combine state-of-the-art HVAC systems with our top-of-the-line insulation package and building envelope, the result is spectacular energy performance.

Geothermal heat pumps are among the most efficient HVAC devices produced today.  These systems are standard(!) at our Model 1, 2, and 3 homes and rehabilitated homes in the Botanical Grove neighborhood.  Here’s a primer on how we install our systems (with thanks to Ed Wieman of Hauser Mechanical for his design expertise):

1.  Drill two 150’ deep ground wells and insert looped piping (see diagram below).  The conditioned water we run through the piping absorbs the earth’s free constant 60ish temperature.


2.  Run pipes into basement below grade and fit to the heat pump.

3.  Install house ductwork to supply tempered air to the house, tightly seal all duct connections.

4.  Connect energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to the ductwork to supply fresh air into the house and remove odor and moisture from the bathrooms – no wasted bathroom air vented out the roof.

tumblr_inline_n40youTM281riyb9nFresh air in, stale air out

5.  Pipe the electric water heater into the Desuper connection loop inside the geothermal heat pump – free hot water when the air conditioner is running!

6.  Wire the programmable thermostat and startup the system.  Enjoy the low utility bills.

Take a look at the HVAC system comparisons from our supplier, Bosch, for the great energy savings and carbon footprint reduction you can expect from our systems.

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Based on the HERS rating measurements that our independent energy auditors have calculated, our new homes perform almost 50% better than a typical new home.  If you’d like to know more, please visit our display home at 4258 McRee and we’ll show you in person.

jps  #thenewstlouis

Customize Your Home Online!

This weekend we launched a new layer to our website, which allows you to customize one of our homes online and get an instant pricing estimate. You’ll get explore our floor plans, finish options, and extra features before meeting with our sales manager.

Check it out, build your home, and tell your friends!



We’ve got a lot of events coming up in the next few weeks!

Come see us at:

Green Homes & Great Health Festival

Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ The Missouri Botanical Garden


Spoke Architectural Bike Tour (stops at UIC)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tours begin at Forest Park at 7:40 am and will leave very 20 minutes until 10:40 am

For more information, go to:

Revitalize St. Louis’ BIG BIG TOUR

Sunday, September 29, 2013 11am – 3pm

Tours start at the Starbucks on Grand. For more information, visit

Historic Shaw Art Fair

4100-4200 blocks of Flora Pl.

Saturday Oct. 5 9am-5pm

Sunday Oct. 6 10am-5pm

Hope to see you soon!



We’re happy to release our shiny new version of our website! We hope you’ll take some time to browse through our available homes. We have a few projects “on the boards” too, so keep checking back for updates!

We’ll be using the “blog” portion of the site to keep you informed of all things related to green homebuilding. What is a geothermal heat pump? Why is our way of framing houses more efficient? Where can you find more information about the finishes we put in our homes? It will all be right here in the blog. Stay tuned!


Also, don’t forget to join us for the GRAND OPENING of our new display home, 4258 McRee.

Saturday, May 4, 2013