The American Geographical Society had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Steven Stone, Owner and Managing Partner of the Globe Building, to discuss the historic building’s evolution into the latest hub for geospatial technology companies in St. Louis, Missouri. Newly renovated, the Globe Building is an industrial space offering high-tech offices and a futuristic environment to geographic and geospatial companies and intelligence agencies. The Globe Building and the new Downtown North Innovation District are located just 4.5 blocks away from the new $1.75 billion, 100-acre western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which is scheduled to open in early 2026.
Prior to becoming central to the geospatial tech hub growing in St. Louis, the Globe Building was built during the Depression by the Illinois Terminal Railroad, and began as a hub for railway companies in the early 20th century, which was then a bustling industrial giant. In the 1940s, the War Departments chose the Globe Building to meet its mapping requirements for bombing runs during both World War II and in the theater of war. In 1958, the U.S. Air Force’s Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC), a heritage organization of the NGA, was created by merging aeronautical agencies in DC and STL, and consolidating their efforts within the Globe Building. The ACIC was also critical for supporting U.S. military efforts in Vietnam, as well as planning and executing the Apollo 11 lunar mission. Today, the Globe Building has come full circle, returning to its historical roots and becoming the hub for all things geospatial, providing offices for Esri, Maxar, General Dynamics, Ball Aerospace and many more.
What makes the Globe Building so enticing for the geospatial community? Aside from its fitting name, the concrete and steel landmark features 725,000 square feet of space, “approximately 14 acres under roof,” added Mr. Stone, and boasts 150,000 square feet of data centers with 12 fiber providers and three electrical feeds, as well as the largest classified facility outside of the DC area. The ultramodern vintage building’s heavy duty infrastructure was able to support abundant fiber and power serving the data centers, which then attracted technology tenants into the property, reeling in smart companies and smart tech to the heartland of the country. Mr. Stone noted the Globe Building is a niche property, however “its tenants are going to make St. Louis smarter.”
Known as the “High-Tech Castle,” the art-deco building’s high-tech adaptive reuse of the space has become the “location of choice” for St. Louis area geospatial intelligence firms. “This is a unique property that, because of its unsurpassed technology infrastructure, has successfully crossed over from another century to become an important player in a growing geospatial intelligence and technology ecosystem,” noted Mr. Stone.
In partnership with Westway Services Group, LLC, the Globe Building features a 75,000 square foot multi-tenant Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) and Secret Collateral office space. A SCIF is a high-security, enclosed area, federally accredited to conduct sensitive information processing at the highest security classification levels. This includes phone calls and encrypted email transmissions to and from intel agencies and cleared seat holders. The largest outside of DC, the building’s SCIF provides a secure workspace to support national defense and intelligence missions, a growing demand in the STL region.
What is the Globe Building’s future once it fills up its remaining space? Mr. Stone mentioned the building will continue to connect (to) things that matter. “The decision of more geospatial intelligence companies to locate more of their people in downtown St. Louis speaks to what has been quietly happening at a much greater pace in the last 24 months—an emerging and welcoming geospatial intelligence and technology scene that more and more companies want to be a part of,” stated Mr. Stone. Affirming, “The importance of these companies locating downtown St. Louis cannot be overstated—they will certainly play their role at The Globe in making our country safer in partnership with the NGA, but their growing presence in downtown will also make the City smarter, faster and more competitive.”
On June 1, AGS will hold its first Geography 2050 Symposium in St. Louis to enter a critical dialog with geospatial professionals in the STL region to discuss the future of geo and agriculture in the heartland. To learn more about the Globe Building and how it has become central to the geospatial intelligence scene propping up in St. Louis, check out their website here.