Eric Moraczewski, USA
The Gateway Arch is an international icon, and Saint Louis’ calling card to the world. It’s how people identify the city and dominates the skyline. Completed in 1965, civic leaders pushed for improvements to the surrounding urban National Park following the 50th anniversary of its completion, leading to the CityArchRiver Project, set to be completed by the end of 2017.
The CityArchRiver project is made up of many partners and many components brought together to reinvigorate the downtown landmark and surrounding area.
Seven key partners came together, the National Park Service, Missouri Department of Transportation, the City of Saint Louis, the CityArchRiver Foundation, Great Rivers Greenway, Bi-State Development and the Jefferson National Parks Association, to renovate several vital components including the tear down of a parking garage to create 7.5 acres of new park.
A land bridge was created over an interstate highway in order to physically connect the Arch to Saint Louis. A new and improved riverfront area was created, where flood risk was reduced by 67 per cent by raising the street level.
The project also resulted in a new and improved city park, and renovation of the Old Courthouse – a historic landmark in the region – and renovation of the 100,000-square foot museum, adding another 46,000 square feet and improving the visitor experience.
One of the core design goals of the CityArchRiver project was to be a catalyst for development in the region. This is happening already, with a multitude of completed or planned projects around the Arch grounds. The CityArchRiver Foundation expects visitation to the park to increase by about 1 million visitors once the project is complete. In terms of social equity and health, this project was designed to create a welcoming, connected urban park.
Considering 75-80% of park visitors come from outside of the region, organizers see a large economic impact from a rise in tourism. There will also be a strong focus in returning the Gateway Arch grounds to the community.
The goal is to activate this park with events and programming, like Blues at the Arch which returns in August, a health and wellness series this summer and Winterfest which was a great success in December and January. These events reflect a diverse community as well as those visitors to Saint Louis. The Foundation and its partners want everyone to feel welcome and represented when they come to the Arch Park.
The CityArchRiver Foundation is a non-profit that was formed in 2009 for the purpose of helping address the unique challenges that faced the Gateway Arch grounds. What had become the undeniable calling card of Saint Louis to the world had been disconnected from the city and Mississippi River by a multitude of infrastructure elements.
CityArchRiver partnered with federal, state, and local public agencies to help address these challenges, which became the $380 million CityArchRiver project. As the project nears completion, the organization has transitioned into a conservancy that will partner with the National Park Service, City of St. Louis and many others to ensure the Arch remains a vibrant, welcoming, active public space for generations to come. For more information visit www.cityarchriver.org.