Design Competition Seeks to Create Connections

This Competition is about connections and weaving an urban park into the city fabric of St. Louis.

This statement isn’t from City to River or a wide-eyed optimist hoping for the removal of I-70 in downtown St. Louis, it’s from the Framing a Modern Masterpiece competition manual for the City+Arch+River Design Competition that is currently underway.

The site has become a kind of island – severed and isolated from the rest of the city… Transportation corridors sever the memorial site from the river and the city, making the Arch grounds an “island,” isolating the Memorial from the activity and diversity of the evolving downtown and compromising public access and use of the historic area and separating the waterfront from the city. —more language from the competition’s “vision” statement.

What is the best way to weave an urban park into the city fabric? How can we have a park that is not severed from the city, not isolated by overwhelming infrastructure? Adding amenities to the Arch grounds itself does nothing to address this issue as defined by the Framing a Modern Masterpiece competition. Connectivity IS the issue and must be part of the program to address the Arch grounds.

Transitional lanes of I-70 running through Memorial Drive and between the Arch and downtown St. Louis

Saarinen’s Arch is indeed a masterpiece. It is iconic. It is impressive. It is, and will continue to be the one thing that attracts people to the park more than any other. And yet visiting the monument and the grounds remains an uninviting experience.

It is clear that the five remaining design firms must address connectivity between the city and riverfront. Without solving the issue that the Competition is about, other developments on the grounds, the riverfront and even the east side will simply add more to the “island,” leaving the barriers in place.

The success of the Competition will be judged by connections. It is the goal of “weaving an urban park into the city fabric of St. Louis” that defines the need for a reimagining of our riverfront. This is why City to River continues to advocate for the removal of barriers. City to River and the Competition seek a solution to make the Arch grounds “an integral and accessible part of the city”.

Read more about the City+Arch+River Design Competition.

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