Last week the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects sent the following letter to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Superintendent Tom Bradley:
Dear Mr. Bradley,
On behalf of the architectural community, we wish to thank the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial for the opportunity to participate in St. Louis community open houses. We believe that the new management plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial presents new challenges, new possibilities and new dreams; an embodiment of the pioneer spirit seeking a better future.
Unlike other memorials preserving an historic event or an American leader(s), this national park is a tribute to change, a tribute to action and a tribute to energy. We can only image the spirit of the early pioneers as they began their westward trek for a better life. We must continue to learn from, and be inspired by, the bold spirit of the pioneers moving to a better life.
The late Architect Sam Mockbee of Auburn University (AIA Gold Honor recipient, 1995) charged architects with his mantra, Proceed and Be Bold in their work and in their lives. AIA St. Louis now forwards this mantra. We ask that the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Proceed and Be Bold.
To that end, then, we recommend that an international design competition be held to determine how the grounds can better connect to the city on the north, south, west and the river. A design competition will bring the park to the city, and the city to the park. A design competition can explore expanded programming. We found the proposals at the open houses only beginning to touch on solutions.
The Arch founds its future and its voice from an international design competition in 1947. From that competition, a wise jury selected Saarinen’s Gateway Arch. Saarinen’s program was never completed, and today the grounds and surrounding present new challenges that can be met with a design competition.
We understand that the Danforth Foundation may fund such a design competition and ultimately fund the award winning design. This opportunity must be seized with great vigor and with boldness by the entire St. Louis community. We look to the National Parks Services for bold leadership to meet this astounding opportunity.
Thank you again for the opportunity to opine. Please know that AIA St. Louis and its members welcome you to our community and we are hoping to develop a strong and collaborative relationship with you and your office.