Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and a multidisciplinary team introduced as experts in “urban renewal, preservation, commemoration, social connections and ecological restoration” have been picked for the planning phase of The City+The Arch+The River 2015 International Design Competition.
Leaders of the team will be introduced, along with details on the next stages of the process, at 10:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.
The jury chose the MVVA Team over four others competing to enliven the area around the Gateway Arch and connect it to downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi River and the Illinois bank. Based in New York, MVVA’s portfolio includes the redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park and many other prominent projects. (Please see the MVVA Team profile at end of this document for information on expertise and accomplishments of its members.)
In its final report, the competition jury called the MVVA Team “a strong team with solid methodology.” As a team, “they convey intelligence and provide clear technical support for their design proposals,” the jury report states.
“MVVA is an outstanding team that presented a winning combination of the ambitious and the manageable,” said Tom Bradley, Superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. “They showed great reverence for the beauty and significance of the existing site, while suggesting improvements and attractions in line with our competition goals. We’re excited to start planning.”
Over a 90-day period, the team will work in partnership with the sponsors, the City of St. Louis, the National Park Service and others to further define program requirements; begin developing a design that takes into account the feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions; create a construction budget and fundraising plan; and define the delivery expectations from now until 2015.
“Between now and January, we will be challenging the MVVA Team to rise to the challenge to do what’s best for the city, for the region and for this national park,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “The Arch is a national treasure, but it is intensely personal to people in and around St Louis. We will be working with Michael and his team, with continued input from the community and the experts, on creating the best solutions for the Arch grounds and the neighboring area.”
“There is huge potential for the Illinois riverbank area and collaboration on both sides of the river,” said Dr. Vaughn Vandegrift, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, who serves with Bradley, Mayor Slay and others on the competitions governing group. “Our discussions regarding Illinois intensified and evolved even after the competition was launched. There are opportunities for the Illinois riverbank area now that didn’t exist when we gave instructions to the teams. We will work closely with the MVVA Team to evaluate what they have proposed and expand from there.”
Strong support for project implementation was shared last month in a letter to competition organizers from the bi-partisan Missouri and Illinois congressional delegations and during a visit by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, who oversees the National Park Service and pledged to get the project done.
“This is another critical step in a continuum that began with the review of the park’s general management plan and continued on to the call for a competition, the skillful execution of the competition itself, today’s announcement of a winning design team, the establishment of an implementation team and a concept from which we can build,” said Bradley. “We are looking to this effort as a model for both public-private collaboration and improved connections between cities and our urban national parks.”
The MVVA Team’s design concept narrative describes their vision for the redesigned park as a “centerpiece of civic culture, an engine of regional economic growth, a showcase for sustainable ecological restoration and a celebration of the national significance of this historic place.”
The sponsoring group, the MVVA Team and others will host intensive reviews and workshops this fall to analyze the design concept and conduct a more detailed design exploration. At a minimum, the study will focus on the review of the technical advisory group, the impact on related downtown park properties and the Illinois side of the river, traffic and transportation and federal compliance issues.
The sponsors also will study issues relating to cost and construction, traffic, financial resources and federal compliance.
A monthly web-based progress report will update the public throughout the implementation period.
The eight-member jury counted among its members a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, a professor in the humanities, a former deputy director of the National Park Service, a real estate economist, a museum curator and renowned architects and landscape architects.
The jury shared its report and team rankings with the competition sponsor and managers after a series of presentations and tours of the community, competition site and exhibit of design concepts led by the sponsors and culminating in public presentations by the teams late last month.
The project will be constructed by Oct. 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Arch.
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