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Hispanic Heritage Month: Peruvian architect in St. Louis transforms buildings and lives

"Through architecture, you can change people's lives. You can put people in a place where they are comfortable, it’s like you’re helping them in a way."

ST. LOUIS — Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions and achievements made by Hispanics.

To highlight their influence, 5 On Your Side is featuring those who are making an impact in the St. Louis area.

In this week's spotlight, we feature a Peruvian architect who's transforming buildings and lives.

Architect Roberto Chacon is changing the lay of the land, rejuvenating old properties.

"I have a small construction company. Our company is based in Troy, Missouri," he said. "In St. Louis, I do most of the downtown work and commercial area only."

Several of his projects range across downtown from a building on 11th Street, another on Tucker and Washington Avenue, and on Locust.

Credit: KSDK

One of them includes the building where the Tiny Bar is. 

That building itself is from 1890.

"It takes a little bit of time, it's very challenging but rewarding," Chacon admits. 

Before modifying these historic structures, he's been through quite a few changes himself.

"I’ve been in Missouri for 25 years," Chacon told 5 On Your Side. 

Chacon is a Peruvian native, however, St. Louis has become home.

Three decades ago, Chacon flew from Peru to Los Angeles for vacation.

Little did he know, it'd become permanent. At the time, he was in architectural school in Peru.

He didn't expect he'd meet his future wife on the trip.

Credit: KSDK

She was from Missouri.

That's how their story unfolds, as they made their way back to Troy. 

"When I left Lima, Peru, there were seven million people in my city. Then she brought me to Troy, it was 3,500 people. A lot the times I was iffy on what they were going to say to me. Basically you can tell that I’m not from Troy because my skin was different. But they were really nice, they embraced and welcomed me in the community," Chacon said. 

At the time, Chacon was just the second Hispanic in Troy.

Yet, he wanted his work to be the one to stand out.

"When I realized that I was going to stay here, I wanted to be better," he said.

He soon graduated from Washington University, building his career from there.

His work ranges from Lincoln County to downtown St. Louis from historic transformations to residential and commercial changes.

"We basically study the building and try to get as much as possible to stay. Through architecture, you can change people's lives. You can put people in a place where they are comfortable, it’s like you’re helping them in a way," Chacon said.

Chacon has been able to design a life he loves and aims to inspire others.

"St. Louis has a lot of opportunity," he said. "If I did it, if I did what I can do now, I’m assuming others can do it!"

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