St. Louis, Missouri



Sculpted by water and time, and further reformed by cultivation, settlement and industrialization, the central continental landscape at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers possesses a diverse ecology, a complex urbanity, and a rich architectural heritage that is St. Louis, Missouri. The Gateway Arch and the Archgrounds setting offers a strong iconic identity for St. Louis and it represents the region’s heart. The City Arch River competition is a challenge to recreate the Archgrounds for contemporary and sustainable uses that still respect historic ambitions. The plan takes a strategic approach that proposes a new urban landscape organized, but not bounded by the Mississippi River, that is well-scaled for people, multi-generational, highly accessible, with distinctive public places, parks, promenades, performance stages, resource centers, and recreation fields. It meets the challenges of climate change with innovative, non-invasive design strategies. It restores the Archgrounds as a great local urban park that is also a national destination. The new Archgrounds contributes positively to the quality of public life, reaching out to the City and the River with physical, social, and ecological connections.

The RIVERCIRCLE is a powerful and effective spatial framework by which to effect a positive, deeply cultural, urban transformation of the city, the river and the Arch. The River is the central actor in this transformation: it is dynamic ecology, cultural flow, economic conduit and fluid parkway.The RIVERCIRCLE proposal outlines a framework for rapid, yet thoughtful development that can begin now, yet will also allow future generations to continue to enhance the urban environment of the St Louis region.The new design narrative suggests a reconceived understanding of “monumentality,” in urban, architectural, and landscape architectural terms. We propose a new national mall for the continental center encircled around and across the Mississippi River by an aggregate of well-scaled, highly accessible, distinctive public places, economic generators, and ecologically enriching landscapes. The River runs through it all – and is thereby granted status as more than an economic or industrial resource, but as a carrier of American culture, in both real and metaphorical ways. As an organizing concept, this encircling sequence of public activities, is captured by the compound noun RIVERCIRCLE.The mission, mandate and timeframe illustrate the most productive contemporary thinking in the ecological and economic regeneration of a former industrial region; the methods and designs emerging from this Great Rivers Expo - A strategy are best described as “Sustained Vitality.”

The RIVERCIRCLE strategy reconnects a fragmented ecology; cleans and restores the internal flood pulse; and creates an expansive public space network.

The goal of the plan proposed is to enfold and maintain the existing economic uses while bringing people to the river, allowing them to experience the Arch, the Arch Grounds, the river, and its history, holistically. To do this, opportunities for access to the river have been designed, including river walks, nuanced naturalized areas that emphasize the dynamic nature of the Mississippi River on a daily, seasonal, and yearly basis, and cultural spaces that serve as gathering points on both banks of the river. These access points and cultural venues are placed so that current rail uses and barge access to the banks will not be impeded. The plan is designed to increase access and enhance the experience, but without adversely affecting existing navigation, flood conveyance, or flood protection.


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