08 December 2008

Dan Kiley's Westward Expansion

The NY Times writes about the current debate over the future of the historic park at the base of the St Louis Arch. The "history" is not that the site restores an ancient burial ground or a lean-to used by the Lewis and Clark expedition, but instead it is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park design by Dan Kiley. The park is considered one of the birthplaces of American modernism in landscape architecture.

One group has raised money for the park, but wants to "improve" the park in ways that might compromise the integrity of the original design. As the centerpiece of St Louis, the entire city thinks it should serve the city in various ways. But the preservationists point out that (aside from literal ownership by the NPS) the park is for all of America and not just the city:
“This is where it all begins,” said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit group in Washington.

“Here are two of the most important place makers of the 20th century, and this is one of their most important commissions,” he said of Kiley and Saarinen. “You start putting in buildings, and it changes the geometry significantly.”

No comments: