Led by Stefan Behnisch and Christof Jantzen, Behnisch Architekten is approaching this challenge as an opportunity for wide-scale urban cohesion and renewal. Strongly influenced by rigorous analysis and community engagement, the firm are looking to create landscapes that express cultural values and an environmental ethic.
In utilising a strategic series of design moves, Behnisch Architekten hope to arrive at ‘a transcendent, holistic, visionary statement – a "catalytic main event" that resonates with an international community.’ Their concept rests on civic sustainability with a concentration on the stimulation of a larger, diverse community whose needs and desired are sustained in the public realm. Expressing enthusiasm about maintaining a close relationship between the general public and the design team the firm note that ‘collective ambitions are always more easily reached where we find citizens who care deeply about their built environment’.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates appear somewhat in awe of the magnitude of this project, immediately recognising that is it ‘impossible to transform the Memorial and its grounds with one bold stroke’. As a result, they have presented a multi-stage concept, incorporating elements of natural science, engineering and design into a holistic philosophy of ecological urbanism. MVVA suggest that merging the boundaries between art, architecture, engineering and public programming, coupled with a revolutionary approach to landscape design may be the answer to the urban renewal of the areas surrounding the Gateway Arch.
The team believe that expanding the site’s scalar and experiential range is crucial to engaging the wide-ranging competition goals. With this in mind they wish to create a varied range of more intimate experiences for the public, based mainly in landscape, using this as the main engine for the transformation of the Memorial and its relationship with both the city and the public to provide an upturn in regional economic growth.
PWP Landscape Architecture, Foster + Partners, and Civitas
Trying a different tack is a coalition group - PWP Landscape Architecture, Foster + Partners, and Civitas - who suggest that by combining their individual success in the areas of architecture, landscape and urban design they can re-imagine the visitor experience and re-engage the Memorial with its natural and built environment, resulting in an elevation of the meaning and performance of the landscape.
By peeling apart the natural and cultural layers of the site as artefact, place and memorial, the coalition believe that their ‘sophisticated design solution’ not only respects history but expands the possibilities for the future of the site.
SOM, Hargreaves, BIG
A second coalition - SOM, Hargreaves and BIG - have split their design concept into four separate stages which read as follows:
1) The Memorial and its Message: Stewardship, Respect and Restoration; Curating Culture - to respect the modern masterpiece and its grounds, re-envisioning the core of the National Park services and increasing the flow of public life.
2) The Connections: Connecting to the River and the Neighborhoods - seeking an eloquent vision for the Mississippi Riverfront, developing the relationship between the river and St. Louis/East St. Louis and building stronger, more connected neighbourhoods around the Memorial grounds.
3) The Two Cities: Strengthening Employment, Income and Population - transforming big ideas into clear economic strategies, helping the two cities to reclaim their heritage and revitalising the underused riverfront lands along the river.
4) The Conversation: Listening to the Community, Engaging Bright Young Minds - developing a plan to excite and inspire young people.
In integrating elements of architecture, art, infrastructure and landscape design, Weiss/Manfredi's concept will attempt to bridge communities, extend economics, recover ecologies and intertwine divergent histories in the bid for a sustainable future.
Referring to their design as ‘innovative and elegant’, this forceful pairing believe that the competition represents ‘a compelling opportunity to frame a transformative sequence of experiences that engage the complex histories and identities that define our communities, cities, and nation’. No pressure then...
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