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Jury members for Arch design competition are announced

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2010 - The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is one step closer to integrating its grounds with St. Louis better. Finding a designer to refigure the grounds of the Gateway Arch, the centerpiece of the memorial and perhaps the most recognizable symbol of St. Louis, is the responsibility of a jury of eight, named today by the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to advance the plan. The CityArchRiver 2015 includes Mayor Francis F. Slay, Arch Superintendent Tom Bradley and other prominent members of the St. Louis community.

According to the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, the winning design will be announced in October 2010.

The competition was first announced in November 2009. When completed, the "new" environs would serve to make the Arch more accessible to the public, and by the same token, make adjacent neighborhoods and resources more easily reached by visitors to the Arch. It is one of the most-visited attractions in the world.

The jurors are:

  • Robert Campbell, architecture critic at the Boston Globe and contributing editor for Architectural Record magazine;
  • Gerald Early, Merle Kling professor of modern letters and director of the African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis;
  • Denis P. Galvin, former deputy director of the National Park Service;
  • Alex Krieger, founding principal of Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, architecture and urban design firm and professor at the Harvard School of Design, Cambridge, Mass.;
  • David C. Leland, an urban strategist and managing director of the Leland Consulting Group, Portland, Ore.;
  • Cara McCarty, curator of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York City;
  • Laurie D. Olin, partner and landscape architect of the OLIN Studio, Philadelphia, and;
  • Carol Ross Barney, founder and principal of Ross Barney Architects, Chicago.

Besides Early, one other member of the jury -- McCarty -- has strong St. Louis ties and an enviable reputation here. She formerly was curator of design and the decorative arts at the St. Louis Art Museum. In that position, she not only built the museum's collection into a major repository of modern and contemporary objects, but also was a strong and eloquent voice for good design in the St. Louis community both in terms of architecture and urban planning.
The Arch grounds have long been regarded as a place apart in St. Louis, not so much by design but by the presence of busy streets and the chasm created to take exhaust fumes off the depressed lanes of Interstate 55/70. The jury must select a team with a clear sense of reconnecting the Arch to the city.

Although a number of proposals have been advanced in the past, the creation of this foundation and the national competition it is sponsoring is a major advancement, and the region's best hope for a substantial improvement in the situation in the Arch's neighborhood.

A public meeting on the design process will be held Wed., Jan. 13, beginning with a project briefing at 9:15 a.m. and continuing with site tours from 1:15 to 3 p.m. The program begins in the Tucker Theatre beneath the Arch; entrances to the theater are beneath both legs of the monument. Doors open at 9 a.m. and participants will have to pass through security checkpoints.

The completion of the project is scheduled for October 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the topping off of the monument, designed by Eero Saarinen. Saarinen himself was the winner of a previous competition, the one that sent out requests for a design for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in the late 1930s.

Robert W. Duffy reported on arts and culture for St. Louis Public Radio. He had a 32-year career at the Post-Dispatch, then helped to found the St. Louis Beacon, which merged in January with St. Louis Public Radio. He has written about the visual arts, music, architecture and urban design throughout his career.

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