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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – It's an understatement to say the 21-story Railway Exchange building is big.  Inside its walls is 1.2 million square feet of space.  The building located in the heart of downtown St. Louis is vacant.  Its owners are looking for ways to put the building back on the map.

The search for ideas prompted Downtown STL Inc. to partner with the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University.  Assistant professor Catalina Freixas was charged with spearheading the project.  She asked her graduate students to create their own plans for the future.

"You have to think creatively in order to transform this building," Freixas said.  Her students put their projects on display Wednesday night for the owners and the public to hear.

Michael Politte researched whether a soccer stadium could fit inside the building.  His research led him to discover there was room for a stadium with seating for a few thousand fans.  He thinks the rest of the building could include residential space, restaurants and a rooftop bar.

Politte admits it would take some drastic changes to make his idea a reality, but he thinks it could take a dramatic change to successfully repurpose the building for future generations.

"I kind of feel like it needs to be that way so you can see the true potential in the building," said Politte.

"That`s what's so exciting about this project," said Melissa "Missy" Kelley, Chief Operating Officer for Downtown STL, Inc.  "We wanted people to think about this from a completely different perspective than what most of us think about a store or an office building."

Other ideas included a museum, trade school, hotel with rock climbing and mix retail and residential space.

Bill Munaco spoke on behalf of the owners.  He hopes to have a plan in place by next year, and believes the building has a bright future.

"If you're in-between the convention center, the dome, the baseball stadium and the new project that's going on for the arch, I think we're in a good spot."​

For more information go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z9IBqYjijM​

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