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Monday, August 16, 2010

Arch Designs to Be Unveiled Tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 3:06 PM

At 9 a.m. tomorrow, the National Park Service will unveil proposals from the five finalists vying to redesign the grounds surrounding St. Louis' Gateway Arch. Mayor Francis Slay will make an appearance, as well as the park's superintendent and the manager of the competition.

It should be quite the event. Just don't expect to find anything about it on the Arch's official website.

Indeed, there's not so much as a press release about tomorrow's festivities on the Arch website. (We scanned a list that goes back to 2008 -- they're talking about an event for the late Eero Saarinen's upcoming birthday, but they don't say a word about the competition to update the grounds surrounding his masterpiece.)

When we called the Arch's designated media contact, her voice mail says she's on vacation until next week -- and referred us to a number with an automated recording providing basic info for tourists, but not a word about the ceremony.

Even worse, when called that recording, and selected the only part of the automated call remotely on point -- "if you'd like learn about what's new at the Gateway Arch Riverfront, press four" -- we were directed to a message about how bike rentals are now on site and told to speak to our "agent" to learn about the, yes, 2009 schedule. (No word on how, exactly, to find an agent, much less what to do if it's already August 2010.)

The good news, however, is that the event tomorrow is, in fact, on. Remarks from various dignitaries begin at 9 a.m., at the base of the Arch if it's clear and in the Arch lobby if it isn't. There's subsequently an open house from 9:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., in which visitors can peruse the finalists' presentations and ask questions to the V.I.P.s on site.

The plans will be displayed on site in the lobby until September 6 -- but if you want your comments to be heard, you need to get there by August 23. That's when the opportunity for public comment ends and the park service gears up to pick a winner.

You might ask how we know all this, the Arch website being pretty much useless and all. Well, as it turns out, there's a glorious separate website that boasts not just all the details -- but a Facebook page and a Twitter account to boot.

The key to getting the skinny on the new Arch plans, apparently, doesn't involve googling "Gateway Arch." You google "City Arch River."

So here's our selfish suggestion for the selection panel. Why not demand that anyone who's redesigning the Arch grounds throw in a redesign of the Arch website/automated recording for free? Or at least make the National Park Service promise to throw up a link to the City|Arch|River page, okay?

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