ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--It has no real equivalent anywhere: a public garden with spectacular landscaping and internationally renowned modern and contemporary sculpture in a completely open, accessible downtown setting.
Citygarden, which was dedicated today, is an oasis in the City, a breathtaking civic space of multi-dimensional appeal — marrying art and nature, stone and water, architecture and design. It features fountains and pools, a waterfall, places to sit and even stretch out, and a café. No walls or fences surround it. Admission is free.
“This new garden is immediately taking its place among the great cultural attractions of St. Louis for residents and visitors alike,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. “It’s dazzling, and its complete openness in the heart of downtown makes it unique in the country.”
Slay was joined at the dedication ceremonies today by local and state government leaders. After brief speeches, the Mayor signaled to the garden’s control room to turn on of all three of the garden’s fountains.
Afterwards, the garden was opened to television cameras for the first time, and then to the public. A fence that has surrounded the garden since construction began, in April 2008, had been pulled down earlier in the morning.
The garden occupies the two blocks between Eighth and Tenth and Chestnut and Market Streets. The two blocks, which are owned by the City and cover 2.9 acres, are part of the Gateway Mall, a 19-square block spine of green space that stretches mostly uninterrupted for a little more than a mile from Broadway to 21st Street. The space is framed to the east by St. Louis’s world-renowned Gateway Arch and its historic Old Courthouse.
Slay expressed hope that the garden would serve as a catalyst for the development of the entire Gateway Mall and for all of downtown.
“I’m already hearing from CEOs about how much they love this garden,” he said. “With one stroke, Citygarden has made downtown far more attractive as a place to do business and as a place to live too — because downtown’s 12,000 residents suddenly have one of the coolest urban parks in the country in their backyard.”
The extraordinary quality of the garden, the Mayor said, “makes a statement about St. Louis. It tells the world, ‘We do great things in this City.’”
Slay said the extraordinary quality of the garden is also valuable in the standard it sets for the improvement of the rest of the Gateway Mall. “By setting the bar so high, it gives us reason to hope that the entire Gateway Mall will eventually fulfill the dreams that civic planners have had for it for the better part of a century. The Mall can be a wonderful, multi-faceted cultural and recreational space for our City and the region.”
The garden also will stimulate tourism, the Mayor said. Visitors to the Arch will be more inclined to cross Memorial Drive into downtown, and St. Louis’s place on the art map will be enhanced for art lovers all over the world.
The City of St. Louis and Gateway Foundation announced in June, 2007 that they would partner in creating the garden. The City owns the garden improvements and will continue to own the land. Its only expenses will be for water and electricity. The not-for-profit Gateway Foundation is providing the funding — an estimated $25-$30 million, covering design and construction and front-end “soft costs” such as financing, anticipated expenses for security and insurance, etc. The cost of the sculpture, which is and will remain owned by the foundation, is separate. Going forward, Gateway Foundation will pay for all costs of Citygarden except water and electricity.
The garden is intended for everyone — downtown workers and residents, St. Louisans from all parts of the metropolitan area, and visitors from around the country and the world. It is aimed at people with and without backgrounds in art, at adults, and at children. Among its major features are:
Ground for the garden was broken in April, 2008, at a rain-soaked ceremony attended by several of those who were instrumental in its creation: Mayor Slay; the Mayor’s Executive Director for Development, Barbara Geisman; Seventh Ward Alderman Phyllis Young; and Warren Byrd, principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the Charlottesville, Va.-based landscape architectural firm that prepared the plan for the garden. Ten St. Louis-based firms supported Nelson Byrd Woltz in the design process, including Studio Durham Architects, which designed the cafe. BSI Constructors served as the general contractor.
Gateway Foundation has contributed significantly in recent years to the revitalization of downtown’s urban landscape, with projects ranging from the funding of the Gateway Mall master plan to the lighting of the Gateway Arch, Old Courthouse, Civil Courts building, and the city’s historic water towers. Other projects have ranged from the development of Triangle Park at Clark and 14th Streets to the restoration and construction of playgrounds and to the placement around the community of more than two dozen pieces of public art.
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