In 1999, a nonprofit group called Downtown Now sponsored the development of a master plan for downtown St. Louis. The plan, which was approved by the Board of Aldermen, called for a sculpture garden on the two blocks of the Gateway Mall between Eighth and Tenth Streets.

Over the next several years, downtown St. Louis experienced a dramatic revival. Lofts and apartments were created in old warehouses and industrial buildings, dozens of new businesses opened, and the population roughly doubled. By 2006, the City saw a need to develop public, recreational space for the growing constituency. Fortunately the space existed – on the Gateway Mall. The City decided to get busy.

At the request of the City, the Gateway Foundation funded the development of a new Mall Master Plan. Gateway Foundation funded

the development of a plan encompassing the entire Mall, from Broadway to 21st Street. Excited by the plan, the City asked the Gateway Foundation to fund the design and construction of the sculpture garden.

An agreement was reached in September 2006, and in June 2007, the Gateway Foundation made a proposal to the Board of Aldermen to develop those two blocks into a public sculpture garden, in a partnership with the City. An ordinance approving the proposal won passage, and later, the St. Louis Preservation Board and the Board of Public Service also gave their approvals.

Since the 2007 agreement with the Board of Aldermen, Citygarden has become a reality. The City of St. Louis believes that Citygarden will help to create a new standard for the development of the rest of the Gateway Mall. It also believes that Citygarden will not


JULY 2009
Welcome to Citygarden. This downtown jewel, a generous gift from the Gateway Foundation, is one of the most remarkable gifts ever given in the history of this city.

When we broke ground on the garden in 2008, I called it “a home run for the city a few blocks from the ballpark.” Now that this vision has been realized, Citygarden will undoubtedly take its place among the great cultural attractions of St. Louis.

It is also unlike anything else in the United States. The combination of world-class public art with magnificent landscaping in a completely open, accessible downtown setting is simply unique among cultural attractions throughout the country.

Gorgeous plantings, magnificent fountains,

beautiful lighting, a glorious café with outdoor seating, and of course, world-class sculpture by internationally-renowned artists all combine to make Citygarden a real civic treasure.

What makes this truly special is that Citygarden is for everybody.

Downtown office workers and our growing downtown residential population now have an inviting public space just around the corner. Cardinals fans have a delightful place to stroll before and after games. Families now have an ideal spot for an afternoon picnic downtown.

Visitors to the Arch and the Old Courthouse have a reason to venture



For any landscape architect, the invitation to design a major sculpture garden is a rare opportunity. Citygarden presented an even more remarkable circumstance – the chance to design an urban oasis that is a hybrid between a sculpture garden, a botanic garden and a city park.

From the outset we wanted to make Citygarden’s design unique to St. Louis and its wider regional context. To accomplish this, our design inspiration draws from the great riverine landscapes of the area, and in particular acknowledges this three acre urban site’s location just a few blocks west of the Mississippi River.

Our charge from the Gateway Foundation was clear from the beginning: help us make an inviting and inspiring public place for a variety of

remarkable contemporary sculptures; create a diversity of spaces and experiences; make it a beautiful and engaging place year-round and, please, provide plenty of shade and water.

So our responsibility was to envision a design framework that could accommodate all of these elements and desires. The limestone bluffs and river meanders were abstracted into the two framing devices for Citygarden – the taller arc wall and the lower meander wall. And a closer analysis of the actual two block canvas revealed clues that allowed us to recall the sites’ early twentieth century history. The parallel boundaries of the horticultural gardens along Market Street were inspired by actual property lines denoted on a 1916 Sanborn map. The bluestone walk that defines the central east-west path across Citygarden literally traces long lost alleyways – including an idiosyncratic jog at the eastern end. The birch-clad mound on the northwest corner of the site evokes an even more distant cultural history of Native



Water is one of the most expressive elements at Citygarden. Three fountains are interspersed throughout the park, combining with sculpture and lush plant life to create a unique visitor experience.

The first fountain is 34 feet in diameter. The subtly tilted granite disk with a water scrim sheets gently from the base of the massive Igor Mitoraj sculpture, Eros Bendato, which welcomes visitors to the garden at 8th Street and Market Street. The tilted disk was conceived as a platform for the sculpture, and water was introduced as a reference to the disk’s round, earth-shaped form. It also presents an inviting and cooling element at one of the garden’s main entry points.

The second fountain is the split basin, which is 190 feet long, 20 feet wide and 16 inches deep. A waterfall, approximately 40

feet wide, “breaks” the basin where the arc wall crosses the pool and the upper basin seeps and cascades from the upland café terrace down to the floodplain six feet below. This waterfall, constructed of native limestone, references the natural history of St. Louis and its environs by representing the seeps and falls along the nearby Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The upper basin provides a calm, reflective pool for the Aristide Maillol sculpture, La Riviere, near the café.

The last fountain is the playful spray plaza, which punctuates Citygarden’s middle tier. The spray plaza includes a paved field of 102 vertical jets that project water up to eight feet in height. The plaza invites children and adults alike to meander through its programmed patterns, and delight in the evening shows of light and water. Eroding out a small section of the field of jets, an 18-foot-diameter pool of 16-inch deep water


In April 2008, the City of St. Louis and Gateway Foundation broke ground on Citygarden, and in just over a year, the two blocks between Eighth and Tenth Streets had been transformed from ordinary park property to one of the most extraordinary urban gardens in the country.

While the transformation itself is remarkable, equally remarkable are the numbers behind that transformation. Here are a few of the more extraordinary Citygarden numbers:

Linear feet of water lines: 10,000

Linear feet of electrical conduit, mostly used for lighting and water feature control wiring: 23,000

Linear feet of sewer lines: 3,300

Linear feet of irrigation lines: 27,000

Linear feet of special drainage lines: 8,000

Vertical jets in the Spray Plaza: 102

Blocks of Missouri limestone, quarried in Perryville, in the Arc Wall: 1,200

Truckloads of rubble hauled from the build site: 400

Depth below street level excavated, in feet: 8

Weight of heaviest tree, a White Oak, imported into Citygarden, in pounds: 80,000

Experience a bird’s-eye view of the construction of Citygarden.

The history and fortunes of St. Louis’ Gateway Mall have run in parallel with those of the City itself. The initial concept for the Mall emerged at the turn of the last century, when St. Louis was an economic hub, a bustling city. The Gateway Mall was envisioned as a grand Beaux-Arts inspired design by landscape architect and planner George Kessler in the city’s 1907 Plan. This plan established Market and Chestnut Streets as large boulevards extending to Grand Avenue with a generous green space separating them.

Beginning in the 1950s, the City of St. Louis entered a decades-long period of decline, losing much of its economic base and population, mostly to its own suburbs. During this period, several plans for the Mall were proposed but not realized. No single vision evolved for what is now known as the Gateway Mall. The land west of Tucker was cleared decades before the final buildings east of Tucker came down in the early 1980’s. From its inception to the present, the evolution of the Mall has been primarily piecemeal, focusing on the incremental assemblage of land.

Since 2000, downtown St. Louis has undergone a regeneration. Several separate yet interconnected efforts have brought it about: new residents of all ages are moving downtown; retailing is coming back to the streets; the new Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, opened in 2006; and the renovated opera house, Stifel Theatre, brings the vibrant arts downtown. The cumulative opportunities created by these events will help to unlock the potential of this exceptional resource.

Anticipating these changes, in 1999 the city created the Downtown Plan which identified a series of strategies for the revitalization of downtown St. Louis. These complex strategies are being realized, with only one portion remaining: the completion of the “Public City”. This has begun, with attention being paid to the Riverfront, the Gateway Arch National Park renovations, the CityArchRiver project and Kiener Plaza, the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum renovations, and the continued revitalization of the Gateway Mall.

Watch Video: Fly-through Rendering of the Gateway Mall