The landmark Gateway Arch in St. Louis is an impressive monument, and its museum and visitor center as well as the surrounding parkland have recently been updated to improve the visitor experience and the facility’s sustainability profile. The result is LEED Gold certification for the center and a prestigious achievement for Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Architects and their project partner, Trivers Associates.
Going For Gold: Gateway Arch Museum and Visitor Center’s Sustainability Credentials
The Gateway Arch construction project shows that LEED Gold isn’t just about a completed building and how it functions, but also the construction process, the materials chosen, and the locations from which they are sourced. It follows through to waste and rubble disposal, energy consumed during the project, and water consumed during construction.
The unique nature of the project – a structure that’s largely under a grassy mound – allows for some of the green features and figures, but the roll is nonetheless impressive. The roof is 99 percent vegetated, for example, and helps to mitigate city “heat island” conditions while more than 80 percent of construction waste was disposed of on-site thanks to the need for fill.
An additional fortunate “accident”, the site’s existing location, was also responsible for one of its other sustainable features – proximity to public transport. Nevertheless, its location could not have been more convenient had it been selected by design and the outdoor landscaping caters for both individual or family recreation and public events.
Proactive initiatives and smart design account for many of the project’s other achievements. For example, materials were sourced no further than 500 miles from the site, interior materials were chosen for low emissions and better indoor air quality, and wood products suppliers’ credentials were carefully vetted.
Working from calculated baselines, water-saving measures like low-flow nozzles reduced clean water consumption to 37 percent below the norm. Meanwhile, energy savings during construction were calculated at 24 percent below what would ordinarily be expected and waste was carefully sorted and collected for recycling where possible.
People-Friendly Exterior Landscaping
But looks aren’t everything in a sustainable landscape where people are among the beneficiaries to consider. As a result, the park has been landscaped to allow for outdoor relaxation and events while additional benefits include the transformation of a car park into a landscaped garden. Natural soil amendments and soil mixtures were used to restore the soil here so that it would be able to support vegetation.
Keeping the Mississippi Cleaner, Cleaning and Cooling Air
Finally, a less obvious feature of the park makes its contribution to its other environmental benefits. City runoff pollutes water bodies, but the park is designed to keep the river cleaner. City storm water is gathered in cisterns here, protecting the river from some of St Louis’ city grime.
The scale of the park is sufficient to give it value as a carbon sink and as a means of softening the city microclimate. Meanwhile, the updated museum and visitor center lies at the heart of the visitor experience while providing an example of sustainable construction techniques and green building technology.