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SPT Architecture breathes new life into a historic building

Hugo Phan
SPT Architecture co-founder Randy Phillips

Like many buildings in downtown Wichita, the old Greyhound Bus terminal on Broadway was a reminder of better days gone by.

SPT Architecture decided it deserved a second act.

Hugo Phan

SPT Architecture has been involved in numerous renovation projects in Wichita, including Union Station.

So when the company decided it needed room to expand, it launched a renovation project of its own.

SPT moved its offices from North Mead in Old Town after 20 years to the former Greyhound bus terminal, near Broadway and Lewis.

"An old bus station for a bunch of goofy architects? Well, what could be better?" Randy Phillips said with a laugh.

Phillips founded the company in 1985 along with Ron Spangenberg. SPT — a full-service architecture, interior architecture and landscape design firm — has designed numerous schools, churches, office buildings and restaurants in Wichita and across Kansas.

The company's 29 employees moved to their new headquarters last month. The renovated terminal features a large, open work area surrounded by a balcony, all of it capped by a sweeping wooden ceiling that was uncovered during renovation.

Splashes of red accent the natural brick and wood throughout the building. Much of the wood was reclaimed and repurposed from the original ceiling structure.

The conference rooms and larger breakout spaces are named after the major destinations along the bus routes, including Kansas City and Oklahoma City. Some of the signage from the original building was saved and used in the building's interior décor.

Phillips says the workspace is more flexible now and all the technology was upgraded. By nearly doubling its square footage, the company can add more employees.

But like any do-it-yourself project, this one had challenges.

Phillips said while the building's exterior suggested a modern, contemporary design from the 1950s, SPT found something different inside.

Hugo Phan

"When you get in and start trying to take it apart, you realize that wasn't the vintage of the building," he said. "The building was probably built around the turn of the century.

"So you're looking at all this brick versus all the clean lines and everything. And when you start cutting holes through these things right here, it's not as simple as you'd like."

SPT also dealt with the supply chain issues affecting many other industries, particularly construction. Phillips said getting parts to fix the elevator, for instance, was a problem.

"Like everybody else, we experienced the same thing," he said. "In fact, we had to go through what our clients are going through. That's the hard part. So we got to feel the reality of that pain."

Jason Gregory is the executive vice president of the nonprofit Downtown Wichita. Gregory said giving new life to empty buildings — Greyhound left the bus terminal in 2016 — is a big win for the core area.

Hugo Phan
SPT moved its offices to the former Greyhound bus terminal, near Broadway and Lewis.

"I like to think of downtown as like this giant puzzle or giant canvas that we're trying to put all these pieces together," he said. "If you think about these older buildings or historic buildings, they're in a lot of ways some really key pieces to that puzzle.

"In order for us to unlock their potential … the development community has to be creative when it comes to the adaptive reuse of those spaces."

SPT is settling into its new building. There are still some unpacked boxes and pieces of office equipment waiting for a permanent home.

But Phillips said the move and the renovation project were worth it.

"Could we have done … a new building cheaper? Yes, but not with as much space, not with as much of the kind of historical integrity and certainly not with covered parking," he said.

"That covered parking area is a huge asset. … We'll never have to worry about selling this thing."

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is a board member of the Public Media Journalists Association, serving as small station representative, a volunteer coach for League 42 and an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.