The St. Louis Gateway Arch is one of those projects that I admire. It has and will continue to provide inspiration to my work on projects such as the Denver International Airport and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. What makes the structure of the St. Louis Arch so brilliant is that it’s a perfect meld of art and architecture. When planners set out to build the structure in 1963 they started with a grand task "to create a monument for the westward expansion of the United States."
The stainless steel solution Eero Saarinen came up with was totally unique compared to the monuments in Washington, DC. The size and scale of the structure surely posed several challenges. I can only imagine the meetings with stakeholders and clients--it must have been riveting. The end result of the architecture is that it frames the downtown cityscape. No other city in the United States has such an iconic monument that will complement its skyline for generations to come.
-- Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA, is principal-in-charge of design at Fentress Architects. He designed Incheon International Airport in South Korea, consistently voted “World’s Best Airport,” and Arraya Tower in Kuwait, the world’s tenth tallest building built in 2009. He is the recipient of the highest award for public architecture, the AIA’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award (2010).