Today at the America's Center in downtown St. Louis, the five finalist teams in the Arch design competition will make their case before a jury of national community design leaders. The jury is charged with choosing the winning team design that will lead the remake the Arch grounds and reconnection of downtown St. Louis.
Front and center in St. Louis is the Arch. The Arch is both a national monument and the international icon of St. Louis. The Arch stands between the Mississippi River and downtown. However, running down the middle of the three is an obtrusive interstate highway. As the highway has long been identified as the number one barrier dividing downtown from the Arch grounds and riverfront, this blog, along with many other writers in St. Louis, have pushed for planning the removal of the downtown lanes of the interstate as a key part of the conversation in the reworking of downtown connections.
Meanwhile, planning for highway removals, as part of an overall economic and community development strategy for downtown areas, has become a national movement. STL Rising has identified over fifteen other completed or concurrent highway efforts. With the Arch design competition the catalyst, and a nationally seated jury deciding the course, St. Louis could lay a further foundation for possibilities of highway removal efforts around the country.
Proponents of highway removal suggest that these highways through the hearts of our nation's cities were mistakes in the first place. As they now are surpassing their useful lives, cities are revisiting ways to reimagine their downtowns. St. Louis is in the forefront of this effort with the Arch design competition and efforts to reorient the city to face its riverfront.
The design teams will be front and center before the Arch design competition jury today. The jury is front and center in setting policies for how St. Louis will work for the next century. And the St. Louis community stands at the threshold of making all this happen. The Arch stands for discovery. Today St. Louis is on an historic odyssey of discovery. The outcome is sure to be outstanding. These are great times to be part of St. Louis.