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Museum Design Unveiled For St. Louis Gateway Arch Park

Museum Plaza after renovation
Museum Plaza after renovation

The winners of a competition for the expansion and renovation of the Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch Museum have unveiled their plans for the building’s transformation.

Cooper Robertson & Partners and James Carpenter Design Associates were part of a team led by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates that won an international competition, “Framing a Modern Masterpiece: The City + The Arch + The River 2015,” which was organized by the nonprofit Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

The resulting facility, which will open in early July, will be the cultural centerpiece of the revitalized Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

The design includes an expanded Gateway Arch Museum with a new entrance and plaza in the historic landscape designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. With new public spaces, the entry hall leads to reimagined exhibitions and the fully renovated original Saarinen building beneath the famed Arch.

Nearly 45K SF of new museum area has been added, and more than 100K SF of existing space has been reconfigured into new exhibition galleries, public education facilities and visitor amenities.

View of the redesigned museum mezzanine
View of the redesigned museum mezzanine

“The new entrance is precisely inserted into the topography, allowing visitors to enter the building through the landscape, rather than descending underground," Cooper Robertson’s Scott Newman said.

"As one enters, a luminous great hall is revealed with views deep into the museum’s exhibits below, elevating and enlivening the visitor experience, while respecting Dan Kiley’s original design,” Newman said.

The exhibits are designed by Haley Sharpe Design of London and Toronto, with the St. Louis-based associate architect Trivers Associates rounding out the design team. The architecture and design initiative helped coalesce support in St. Louis and regionally for the improved park and expanded museum. 

Partners of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation include Bi-State Development, Jefferson National Parks Association, Great Rivers Greenway and the National Park Service. The project design team is led by MVVA founder Michael Van Valkenburgh, Cooper Robertson’s Scott Newman and Andrew Barwick, and JCDA founder and principal James Carpenter and studio director Joseph Welker.