Posts tagged with "St. Louis":
Along with a team of artists, planners, and architects, Stoss Landscape Urbanism has won a competition to knit St. Louis into a walkable, bikeable green strip between the Gateway Arch and Forest Park, the city's largest, on the western end of town.
The St. Louis nonprofit Green Rivers Greenway asked L.A.- and Boston-based Stoss and three other teams to link the riverside to the center of the city for the Chouteau Greenway. A citizens' group, the Chouteau Community Advisory Committee, worked with local organizations organized under the Chouteau Design Oversight Committee to review the designs in public fora. According to ArchDaily, over 2,000 residents responded to Green Rivers Greenway's survey soliciting input on the designs. Stoss's win was first announced in early May.
Stoss is calling its concept The Loop + The Stitch, a nod to the circular bike and foot path (outlined in green, above) that will connect downtown and the Gateway Arch to Forest Park and Washington University in St. Louis, home to the well-regarded Sam Fox School of Architecture. The "stitch" portion, delineated in magenta, links the city's north and south neighborhoods together and to the "loop" with pedestrian infrastructure. Stoss collaborated with Marlon Blackwell Architects and five other firms on its design.
Great Rivers Greenway is overseeing the first segment of the project, between Boyle and Sarah avenues. A now-under-construction MetroLink light rail station, funded by a $10.3 million TIGER grant, will connect with the Greenway along this leg. The station will be completed later this year, as the Stoss team works with stakeholders to finalize its proposal.
This isn't the first major landscape project to shape St. Louis recently. Last fall, Brooklyn's Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) debuted CityArchRiver, its plan to reconnect Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley’s Gateway Arch and landscape with the rest of downtown over a portion of I-44.
“Our project is at the end of a seventy-year project,” said Gullivar Shepard, principal at Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), of his firm’s St. Louis CityArchRiver design. Back in 2010, MVVA’s team won a competition to rework the landscape around the St. Louis Gateway Arch—technically the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial—to make it more universally accessible, easier to maintain, and more integrated into its urban context. Expanding and popularizing the site’s little-known museum was also a key goal. While the client was technically a foundation, the firm would have to work closely with the site’s owner and preservation-minded steward, the National Park Service (NPS). The challenge was complex: The landscape was hardly a clear-cut expression of Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley’s designs.
Kiley was on Saarinen’s original design team, whose 1947 proposal won the memorial competition. But the project languished until 1957, when funding became available. Saarinen and Kiley were internationally renowned by then, “so they went back to the drawing board, literally, and came up with a new design for the memorial,” said NPS Historian Robert Moore. “Basically, it evolved from a rectilinear-looking plan to a very curvilinear plan that echoed the curves of the arch itself.” Moore described how the curving paths and ponds were Saarinen’s ideas, while the allées and cypress circles came from Kiley.
The NPS subsequently stepped in and became involved in the design, thinning out Kiley’s dense vegetation. After the completion of a 1964 “final landscape plan” with Kiley (Saarinen had passed away in 1961), the NPS continued without him. Money to build the landscape only became available in earnest in the early 1970s, with much of the landscape elements in place by 1974, though final plantings were made in 1983. During this time, the NPS made small changes to Kiley’s ponds and the special stairs Saarinen had designed. “Again, [there were] many hands in the design,” said Moore.
The resulting shortcomings are numerous. Eighty percent of visitors, said Shepard, don’t even know there’s a museum underneath the arch. Many drive in from the highway, park on the on-site parking lot, take the tram to the top, and leave. The park is also cut-off from the city by highways, which didn’t exist in 1947.
In addition, the decision-making process was complicated by the fact that “this is not an actual historic landscape or actual historic building or fabric,” said Shepard. “It’s a monument to a historic concept, a moment of time.”
MVVA broke down the proposed interventions into 14 key decision points, each a constituent part of a larger landscape resuscitation.
Ultimately, key interventions included building new, fully accessible paths—embedded in the landscape—that snake down from the arch plateau to the river, replacing the allées’ infestation-prone ash trees with London plane trees, and bulldozing the parking lot to create a new seven-acre park that connects to Washington Avenue, a major urban corridor of St. Louis. The biggest (and perhaps most controversial) intervention was a new circular museum entrance embedded in a berm that leads up to the arch plateau. A new vegetated bridge, which leads directly to the new museum entrance, will replace caged highway overpasses.
While the stakes are high for the memorial, this project could have broader implications for other NPS sites. “This was the project that everyone in the Park Service has been very carefully watching,” stated Shepard. If the NPS, an organization “not built for change,” can successfully update a complex site like this, then perhaps similar projects could be possible in other cities.