Monday, October 08, 2007

Riverfront Reset

The editorial page of the Sunday Post Dispatch presented three very different concepts for remaking the riverfront and Arch grounds.

One plan suggested by a prominent local architect suggested creating a terrace facing the river just above the flood plain, where pedestrians could stroll, shop, and expand their experience of the riverfront. The terrace could be connected to the underground museum beneath the Arch.

The second proposal was for the floating island plan developed by an out of town architect and planner. The designer mentioned comparisons to a highly successful waterfront development in Spain.

The third concept was suggested by the president of the Downtown Resident's Association. This plan was less about redesigning the Arch grounds or the riverfront and more about reworking the road system around the area.

With plans for a new Mississippi River bridge still in the works, the writer suggested moving Highway 70 away from the Arch entirely, somewhere north of Laclede's Landing.

Next, dispose of the moat around the Arch created by the depressed lanes by simply filling it in. This approach would remove the connection of Highways 44, 55 and 70 in downtown and eliminate the need for a "lid" over the depressed lanes. The writer pointed out that such a concept would open up prime downtown real estate for new development and also better connect downtown to Laclede's Landing.

The three plans are all very different. What's your favorite option? Or perhaps a different suggestion?

The reworking of the Arch and riverfront connections to downtown is something we'll only get one shot at in our lifetimes. What is our best shot?


Anonymous said...

I like the plan by the president of the Downtown Resident's Association, but would MoDOT ever go along with it?

Anonymous said...

Trivers must have been watching that PBS series, "The War". His plan sounds like a recreation of the German bunkers at Omaha Beach.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of connecting the promenade to the arch museum in Trivers proposal. I also think the idea of relocating 70 north of Laclede's landing that was in the second proposal should be seriously considered. The idea is not unfounded. I now live in milwaukee where they tore
down a freeway north of downtown. This has spurred a ton of development and has helped to betterconnect the nearby neighborhoods to downtown. The first propsal needs to let the island idea go.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the Trivers proposal. Are they talking about moving Lenore K. Sullivan up the side of the Arch grounds? It sounded like the Trivers promenade plan includes a roadway for cars. Would it parallel the current Lenore K. Sullivan drive or replace it? I am having a hard time visualizing a new road traversing the Arch grounds halfway up the hill. What would happen to the grand staircase?

Rick Bonasch said...

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area led to the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway along the San Francisco waterfront.

Click here for great before and after images and a related article

Anonymous said...

The plan to build a lid over the depressed lanes leaves a lot to be desired. Once you cover the section between the Adams Mark and the KMOX building, there are still the blocks by the Millenium Hotel, the Old Cathedral, the east elevation of the Adams Mark, and Peabody Coal all situated alongside the depressed lanes.

In other words, even after building the so-called "lid", most of the depressed lanes are still exposed. Noise from the highway will still be a problem, and the ugliness of the depressed lanes will still be a major presence along the Arch grounds.

Lidding over one block of the depressed lanes is a very expensive option for only a partial solution.

Aaron said...

Andy Trivers idea of the large promenade jutting out into the river is wonderful...the shape echoes the arch, responds to the staircase (which doesn't change at all, btw), and would provide a great new public space. There isn't a new road, simply new landscaping and then shops, restaurants, exhibits, etc recessed slightly into the slope so as to not disturb the landscape of the arch grounds, but still add a significant amount of life to the riverfront. The shops would face the existing road, like any would really bring back a sense of the active riverfront st. louis once had. It also fits nicely with Saarinen's original concept for the arch...which was much more vibrant and active that the final product. Trivers proposal is actually very much in keeping with the original intent Saarinen had for the riverfront.

I also love the idea of just getting rid of I-70 connecting through downtown..but it may not be practical. Either that, or the 'lid' should really be expanded to encompass the ENTIRE sunken section of I-70, not just the 3 blocks at the center.

Otherwise, the problem remanis the same - access is limited. The lid or space created by filling in and moving I-70 (maybe by routing traffic on I64 briefly across the poplar and then adding a Nbound ramp to the martin luther king/new mississippi river bridge, thereby avoiding downtown altogether?) would be a fantastic place to place program like the icerinks, pavillions, etc. I bet lidding the whole stretch costs less and is less of a politcal mess than rerouting across the river, though!

Bottom line, any riverfront project is bound to fail if people can't get there!

GMichaud said...

The problem with the arch grounds is that they could not be more inaccessible if they were part of a medieval walled town.
This area was the core of the city, and while moving I-70 and creating or a promenade along Sullivan Blvd are interesting, neither addresses the real problem of inaccessibility.

The most practical approach may be to extend the city grid back into the arch grounds, so that the Old Cathedral becomes part of a city neighborhood again. Even one city block or about 400 foot deep would be a help. The grid could run down either side of the park to Sullivan Blvd. Just a single street running on either side would be a connection to finish the grid.

Within the framework of the grid, you could have squares, plazas, fountains and other elements in addition to buildings.
As an added bonus, such a plan should have minimal public expense. Developers add streets and buildings all the time.

While the Arch is a spectacular structure, the planning of the surrounding area is so mediocre that it is astounding. Allowing the very core of the original city to be destroyed, cut off and abandoned illustrates an ignorance of city planning principles that seems to still exist even today.

Rick Bonasch said...


The PD article describes the promenade in the Trivers' plan as being above flood level. We have seen Lenore K. Sullivan frequently underwater.

For the promenade to be above flood level, it would have to be substantially above the current road.

In the flood of '93, the water nearly made it to the top of the Arch steps.

Beckyzoole said...

Neither a floating island nor a shopping mall will be used as long as they remain cut off from the rest of the city. The depressed lanes cut off the Arch grounds and make it impossible to walk to Laclede's Landing.

Move 70!