By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Engineering and architecture students from six universities joined forces this weekend to develop their plans for the St. Louis riverfront.
The design conference gave students about 30 hours to come up with solutions to one of downtown St. Louis's most vexing problems - how to connect the rest of downtown with the Arch grounds and the monument itself.
St. Louis architect Fred Powers coordinated the weekend. He says it was meant to be an educational experience, but also give students a voice in the important civic issue. "It's going to be their generation that's probably going to see the resolution of this whatever form it might take."
The group's proposals varied in their complexity. One group wanted to eliminate Interstate 70 through downtown and reroute traffic into Illinois or onto city streets. Another group believed it was important extend the development from Forest Park all the way east.
Many groups, however, included an additional destination on the grounds like a new museum or an aquarium. Powers wasn't surprised, given the message from experts who gave presentations at the conference. "It's not just an Arch grounds issue, it's a connectivity issue, it's the issue of the entire riverfront, and so they're looking at this in terms of more than just the Arch grounds," he said.
Any redevelopment of the grounds will take years, Powers said, but it's important for students to talk about the ideas, and for residents to hear the, so decisions about a redesign are made carefully. Officials are expected to finish changing the park's "master plan" to allow for new development by summer 2009.