St. Louis Supports Buy-Local on a Monumental Scale
By Robyn Frankel
While the term “buy local” generally refers to consumers supporting local small business merchants, the Gateway Arch Park Foundation and its partners have elevated its meaning by awarding much of the work for the $380 million renovation of the Gateway Arch National Park to locally-based architects, design professionals and construction companies.
“Using local businesses that have the experience, expertise and talent necessary to build everything right is a win-win for the St. Louis region. Not only is there a sound economic basis for using local companies so more money stays in the community, but also using local workers and skilled craftsmen fosters a great sense of pride and accomplishment on a personal level,” said Eric Moraczewski, executive director, Gateway Arch Park Foundation. “The civic pride that comes from knowing local companies and local workers are the ones responsible for the improvements is immeasurable.”
The Gateway Arch Park Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, was founded in 2009 to ensure that the Gateway Arch, its grounds, neighboring public space, and attractions will be a vital, welcoming, and well-supported resource for the community and nation for generations to come.
The work, which includes the Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch and the Arch park grounds, was divided into 12 separate projects. In addition to the primary contractors, nearly 20 additional companies served as sub-contractors. Major local contractors included:
Remiger Design coordinated designers and architects involved in renovating the Arch grounds, rebuilding the museum and creating a park over the interstate highway between the Arch and downtown, including the work of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. of New York, which won in 2010 the project design competition that attracted submissions from around the world.
Trivers Associates partnered with Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates for the expanded and renovated Museum at the Gateway Arch, including renovating a subterranean structure that required high levels of security while remaining inviting and accessible to the public.
Randy Burkett Lighting Design created a novel and striking approach for illuminating Kiener Plaza, which included the design and installation of eight precision narrow distribution, high output LED lighting fixtures atop the Met Square building at Broadway and Sixth. Computer-based controls orchestrate the cool blue light, which emulates the cast of the moon’s reflected light, responding to daily time-of-day changes and the occasional demands of special events and activities.
BSI Constructors. In addition to extensive renovations at the 3.5 acre Kiener Plaza, BSI rebuilt a 1.5-mile stretch of the riverfront, including walls between the road and levee, underground infrastructure, sidewalks, a separate bike path that connects to existing trails, raising by two-feet Lenore K. Sullivan Boulevard and adding a street level stage that can be used as an event space.
McCarthy Building Companies/Castle Contracting (joint venture). McCarthy served as general contractor for the expansion and renovation of the Gateway Arch Visitor Center and Museum, as well as for renovation of approximately 70 acres for the north and south grounds, including adding five miles of new accessible walkways. In addition to building the new 46,000-sq.-ft. subterranean museum extension, construction included a dramatic new grand entrance to the visitor center that features solid steel cantilevered beams and custom glazing.
Kozeny-Wagner, Inc. completed the North Gateway, a seven-acre park designed as a flexible space for concerts, festival events and recreation with features including an explorer’s garden, an elevated walkway with views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding park, a natural amphitheater, and bicycle paths. The North Gateway connects to Eads Bridge, Laclede’s Landing, Washington Avenue, and neighborhoods to the north.
KCI Construction provided improvements to Luther Ely Smith Square, a one-block green space east of the Old Courthouse. The most important component is a new ADA compliant accessible-design park built over the I-44 highway that creates a seamless park experience allowing visitors to walk directly from Fourth Street to the Arch and the riverfront without a stair step or curb in their path. The new park built over I-44 opened on Monday March 26th.
“Nowhere else in the nation is the reverence for the nation’s tallest man-made monument built by local workers stronger than it is St. Louis. When the Arch celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, local construction workers who helped build it were still talking about its lasting impact and the pride they felt for having built it,” said Moraczewski. “We want today’s local workers, their families, friends and neighbors and the entire metropolitan region to feel the same sense of pride about the renovations.”
The majority of the construction projects were funded through both Proposition P revenue, overseen by Great Rivers Greenway, and private funding through the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. Partners of The Gateway Arch Park Foundation included National Park Service, Jefferson National Parks Association, Great Rivers Greenway, Bi-State Development and City of St. Louis.
Poised for a major grand opening extravaganza on July 3, 2018, the completed renovation is a testament to the local business community’s expertise and resources. An extensive events calendar of programs and special events is designed to reengage the local population to visit the Arch grounds and attractions throughout the year, not just for special occasions.
In the excitement of promoting the finished project and grand opening, it’s important to pause to recognize the achievements of all of those who contributed to making this transformation happen, including those who actually built it,” said Moraczewski.