December 8, 2009

Gateway Arch Grounds Design Contest Starts Today

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The Arch Grounds are ready for their makeover.

The Arch Grounds are ready for their makeover.

The National Park Service and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay today launched an international design competition to update the area surrounding our ubiquitous St. Louis icon, the Gateway Arch.

The National Park Service maintains the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park grounds surrounding the Arch.  But as part of its Business Enterprises, Metro operates the Gateway Arch trams and Riverboats, Arch garage and other riverfront activities.  So we are greatly interested in the future of the Arch grounds and how it will enhance the riverfront.

From today’s release:

“The competition begins today,” said Tom Bradley, Superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Gateway Arch. “This competition is a unique and important opportunity to integrate the Arch and the park surrounding it into the fabric of the city and region and embrace the Mississippi River and its east bank. It’s an opportunity to energize the park with new amenities and attractions. By achieving these objectives, we will design people into the area – and establish a national model for urban parks.”

The competition will invite teams to create a new design for the Arch grounds and surrounding areas with 10 goals in mind:

* Create an iconic place for the international icon, the Gateway Arch.

* Catalyze increased vitality in the St. Louis region.

* Honor the character-defining elements of the National Historic Landmark.

* Weave connections and transitions from the city and the Arch grounds to the Mississippi River.

* Embrace the Mississippi River and the east bank in Illinois as an integral part of the national park.

* Mitigate the impact of transportation systems.

* Reinvigorate the mission to tell the story of St. Louis as the gateway to national expansion.

* Create attractors to promote extended visitation to the Arch, the city and the river.

* Develop a sustainable future for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

* Enhance the visitor experience and create a welcoming and accessible environment.

No small order, but the Arch riverfront is one of the most iconic locations in St. Louis, and it deserves a vibrant future that reflects our rich historical and environmental history.  And it should be someplace tourists and St. Louisans alike would like to spend a Saturday afternoon.

All the info you need to know can be found at the competition’s website,   Registration for the competition ends January 26, 2010.  I wanted to take some in-depth pictures of the grounds this afternoon, but the scene looks like something out of Hound of the Baskervilles, so I’ll wait until another day.  But as someone who routinely spends my lunch hour walking, jogging or generally enjoying the park, I am looking forward to seeing all of the creative designs roll out.

UPDATE: The Museum of Westward Expansion is operated by NPS, not Metro.  You should go check it out!

Transit Benefits

5 thoughts on “Gateway Arch Grounds Design Contest Starts Today”

  1. Daron says:

    I was reading the competition design manual earlier and was quite surprised to learn that the elevator/tram was designed, installed, and run by the Bi-State Developement Agency.

    Does metro still run the tram? Why? This isn’t transportation in the sense most of us associate with the organization. I always assumed somebody like westinghouse or otis ran the tram.

    Does Metro get to keep some of the profits?

    1. Courtney says:


      The Arch tram is one of Metro’s Business Enterprises, the revenues of which contribute to transit operations. The Arch tram, along with the St. Louis Downtown Airport, the Riverboats, and Arch garage are entities that we operate. It’s not transit as we know it, but has a lot of common components…ticket collection, vehicle operation and maintenance, real estate, etc.

  2. Daron says:

    I love advertising myself.

    My renderings and proposals for the arch grounds. :o)

  3. Jennifer says:

    I can’t wait to see the designs, either, and I hope that we don’t consider a single one that ignores the problem created by I-70 there.

  4. Daron says:

    ah ha! So you’re the ones responsible for that giant garage blocking my direct access to the park from the landing. !!!

    I hope that a redesign of that will be part of the larger project.

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