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The Best Architecture of 2018: Building for Complex Experiences

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The Gateway Arch National Park and CityArchRiver project were listed among the Wall Street Journal's list of Best Architecture of 2018 with just three other projects: Glenstone - a museum in Potomac, Maryland; the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama; and Hunter’s Point South Park in New York City.

On the Gateway Arch National Park, writer Julie V. Iovine wrote:

On July 3, the last phase of the Gateway Arch Park renovation opened in St. Louis. For years, the famous parabolic 630-foot arch, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1965, was one of the most popular destinations in the National Parks system, but it had become ensnared in highways cutting the park off from downtown and from access by surrounding low-income neighborhoods. To reach the arch from a hotel just 75 feet away across I-44, you had to take a taxi.

The landscape overhaul by Michael van Valkenburgh Associates includes a pedestrian boulevard bridging over the highway and extending into the heart of the city. A new visitor center designed by Jamie Carpenter is a crescent-shaped glass wall wedged below the arch. Where visitors once lined up outside to enter directly into a leg of the arch, the much improved experience now includes a museum theater, shops and café.

New landscaped berms buffer the traffic’s noise, while paths weaving around the rest of the park are embedded to preserve sightlines of both the arch and the Mississippi River. The $380 million project was financed by a local ballot proposition to raise sales taxes plus $250 million in private donations, a type of public-private funding that actually lives up to the hype.

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