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A new direction for St. Louis Arch

Marketplace Staff Sep 24, 2010

A new direction for St. Louis Arch

Marketplace Staff Sep 24, 2010


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The St. Louis Arch is set to get a little facelift. A design jury’s awarded the contract to a New York firm. They’re being asked to transform the Arch into a world-class tourist destination.

From station KWMU, Adam Allington reports.

ADAM ALLINGTON: When you talk about the Arch several things come up. First of all — it’s breathtaking. Seriously, if you’ve never seen it up close, it’s much taller than you’d think. A close second is, how do I get there?

BOB FORRESTER: You can see the Arch, you’re right beside the Arch, but now what do you do? There’s no parking down through here. So, it’s difficult and not very well-guided.

Bob Forrester is in town from Indiana. He said he drove by the Arch several times before finally finding the right exit.

Ludwig Goppenhammer and his wife are from Colorado. They had yet another logistical problem.

LUDWIG GOPPENHAMMER: I cannot find a bike rack anywhere. There’s even a bike path down there. I would think it would be a no-brainer that people would ride by and park by the Arch.

But the larger issue that St. Louis is wrestling with is how to connect Eero Saarenin’s iconic masterpiece to the rest of the city. For instance, if someone wants to walk the four blocks from the Arch to Busch Stadium, they first have to cross over or under a very noisy Interstate 70.

Michael Allen is a consultant with the St. Louis-based Preservation Research Office. He says fixing these outdated infrastructure issues is a growth business among architects and planners, particularly in river-towns.

MICHAEL ALLEN: Every city that attempted urban renewal on the riverfront ended up with a large park and a giant interstate between the downtown core and that park — Louisville, Philadelphia, Cincinnati.

The consensus seems to be that I-70 will remain for now. However, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architect in charge of the project, does include plans for roofing over part of the freeway with a kind of greenspace lid.

Other ideas for 91 riverfront acres include a beer garden, an ice-skating rink and a bird sanctuary. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the project has the potential to add millions to the regional economy.

MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY: As mayor, this is my number one economic development project. This is our top priority. Because it’s more than just about the city, this is about the entire region.

The price tag for the project is still a moving target, though its not expected to be cheap.
Chicago’s much smaller Millennium Park, completed in 2004, cost that city nearly half-a-billion dollars.

In St. Louis, I’m Adam Allington for Marketplace.

CHIOTAKIS: See pictures of the winning design.

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