Finally made it to the arch. My hope was to glean from the speakers at this evenings panel discussion
which one of the 5 prospective plans for the arch grounds are most consistent with those of Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley.
The speakers tonight includued an archivist, a historian, an architect involved as a student in assiting the jury in the 1947 competition, a project manager working for Eero Saarinens office and lastly, Susan Saarinen, the daughter of Eero Saarinen who is a landscape architect herself. Informative and insightful as it was, the presentation didn't include any information about the current contest.
What I did get which was totally unexpected, was a rush of excitement for what we have the opportunity to witness and enjoy: a long deserved makeover of the archgrounds and respective property across the river. I say 'deserved,' because the arch grounds are
a National Park, and based on every other National Park I've been to, it just doesn't stack up. Interestingly, looking at many of the designs from the 1947 contest including the winning design, their plans were much more than what we were left with.
All along I've called for people to participate
in this. That's important. While the judges for this year's contest are undoubtedly qualified to process the challenge before them, and it is a challenge
, they aren't motivated by what's BEST FOR ST LOUIS like we are. Public input is allowed ONLY THROUGH MONDAY!!! Seeing bicycle and pedestrian trails linking the Missouri portion of the park with the new attractions planned for the east side was exciting for me. Seeing the new venues for the archgrounds like concert space, fountains and all kinds of other improvements was fantastic. After my trip last month to San Antonio and seeing how well they tied their downtown to the Riverwalk, its clear that we can do so much with the Arch grounds that exponentially improves our viability as a tourist destination and a place for us to build community.
After the presentations, I took my time to try to take in everything about the new plans
. My initial front runner is the plan from Weiss / Manfredi Team Concept
. They have a St Louis connection in SWT Design out of Webster Groves, and seemed to have a good realistic plan. Some of the plans were hard to understand and will take more time to read.
My goal from here is to spend another hour or so reading and listening to the entries on the web and then submit my input to the National Park Service
The form they have at the Arch has specific questions that the webform does not have, like "What do you value about the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial?, and How do each of these designs respect what you value about the Memorial? I'm not sure how important these questions are to the judges, but I'll probably try to answer their questions.
After the evening, I meandered my way through downtown, trying to connect the many perspectives shared in the design competition with the current layout of the Gateway Mall, visiting several attractions like CityGarden, and Serra's Twain before catching the train home. Just like an election day, we only have a finite period to share our ideas about the contest. Its important to get informed now.