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PR: French Hosts 3rd Annual Halloween “Safe Zones” for Kids in North St. Louis

October 29, 2010 North City, Press Release 2 Comments
The following is a press release:
(ST. LOUIS) — This weekend, Alderman Antonio French (21st Ward) will be hosting a Halloween “Safe Zones” for kids in north St. Louis. This is the third year French has sponsored the event.

Each year, several blocks throughout the ward are set up as “safe zones” where streets are blocked off and police patrol to ensure a safe place for kids to trick-or-treat. Residents on the “safe zone” blocks decorate their yards, dress up in costumes, and pass out candy supplied by Alderman French. Kids come from all over the area to participate.

“Halloween is a tradition that children look forward to all over the nation,” said Alderman French. “Creating ‘safe zones’ allows our kids to participate without fear. It’s great to see kids out after dark trick-or-treating just like we used to when we were younger. I’m proud to host an event which highlights the sense of community that continues to thrive in north St. Louis.”

Alderman French is also hosting a new event this year — pumpkin carving for kids at the newly renovated O’Fallon Park Boathouse.

Pumpkin Carving
Saturday, October 30th
Noon to 2:00PM

Sunday, October 31
6:00 to 9:00PM
4400-4500 blocks of Holly & Athlone
4700 blocks of Lee & Kossuth

To donate to these events or to volunteer, call the 21st Ward TMAP Office at 769-9000.


PR: APA Names Wydown Boulevard A 2010 Great Street

ABOVE: Wydown Blvd near Hanley.  Image: Google Streetview
ABOVE: Wydown Blvd near Hanley. Image: Google Streetview

The following is a press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Planning Association (APA) today announced the country’s 10 Great Neighborhoods, 10 Great Streets, and 10 Great Public Spaces for 2010 through the organization’s national program, Great Places in America.

Launched in 2007, Great Places in America celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, noteworthy social, cultural or historical character, community involvement, resilience, and a vision for the future. To date, 110 places have been designated in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

“This year’s designations represent American communities of all sizes, from New York City, Boston and San Francisco to Wallace, Idaho, Red Lodge, Montana, and Middleburg, Virginia,” said APA Chief Executive Officer W. Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Places of distinction and unique character are found not only in big cities or selected states, but everywhere. We hope these examples inspire other communities to envision, plan and realize their own great places of lasting value.”

“These American Planning Association Great Places demonstrate the benefits of good planning and plan implementation, often over generations,” Farmer said, adding “Great Places show what helps make communities attractive and able to offer residents better choices for where and how they work and live.”

APA Great Places are enjoyable, safe and desirable — places that attract users every day. America’s truly great streets, neighborhoods and public spaces are defined by many characteristics, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement. The 2010 designees are not ranked, but are listed here alphabetically by state. Additional details about each designee are available at www.planning.org/greatplaces.

2010 Great Neighborhoods
Lower Downtown, Denver, CO; Riverside Avondale, Jacksonville, FL;
Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, Village of Oak Park, IL;
John S. Park Neighborhood, Las Vegas, NV; The Paseo, Oklahoma City, OK;
Historic Ninth Street Hill Neighborhood, Lafayette, IN;
Back Bay, Boston, MA; Downtown Frederick, Frederick MD;
Hyde Park, Cincinnati, OH; The Cathedral Historic District, Sioux Falls, SD

2010 Great Streets
Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR; 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA;
Bank Street, Wallace, ID; Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, KS;
Wydown Boulevard, Clayton, MO; Broadway Avenue, Red Lodge, MT;
Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ; Middle Street, New Bern, NC;
Liberty Street, Franklin, PA; Washington Street, Middleburg, VA

2010 Great Public Spaces
Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden, Birmingham, AL;
Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA; Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL;
Fountain Square, Bowling Green, KY; The Emerald Necklace, Boston, MA;
Campus Martius Park, Detroit, MI; Bryant Park, New York City, NY;
Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA; Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX;
Percival Landing Boardwalk and Park, Olympia, WA

Great Places in America is just one of the ways APA recognizes and celebrates National Community Planning Month each October. The special month is designed to recognize and celebrate the many residents, leaders, officials, and professionals who contribute to making great communities. For more about National Community Planning Month, visit www.planning.org/ncpm.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people’s lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.planning.org.


PR: The East-West Gateway Council of Governments Board of Directors Hires New Executive Director

September 29, 2010 Press Release 4 Comments

The following is a press release.  Mr. Hillhouse & his wife are moving to downtown St. Louis.

Ed Hillhouse
Ed Hillhouse

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments Board of Directors Wednesday approved the hiring of Ed Hillhouse as the metropolitan planning organization’s new executive director, effective Nov. 1. Hillhouse currently is chairman of the board for East-West Gateway and the presiding commissioner for Franklin County, Mo.

Hillhouse was elected as a county commissioner of Franklin County in 2002 and has served as the county’s presiding commissioner since that election. During that time he also has served on the board at East-West Gateway. He has a doctorate degree in education from St. Louis University and served as superintendent of schools for the Meramec Valley School District in Pacific from 1988 to 2002.

East-West Gateway is the St. Louis area’s federally designated metropolitan planning organization responsible for approving federal funding for major local transportation projects. East- West Gateway’s 24-person board, which includes the top elected officials of the region’s seven counties and the mayor of the city of St. Louis, meets monthly to consider issues of regional significance.

Hillhouse sees regional collaboration among local governments as one of his highest priorities, both to better coordinate services and to share resources so that financially constrained municipalities and counties can better serve their citizens. He also sees an increased role for East- West Gateway in bolstering the region’s economy, particularly at a time when the world is becoming increasingly urban and metropolitan areas are the focus for global competition.

“Economic development is critical to the region and East-West Gateway will play its part, both in analyzing the region’s fiscal condition and helping coordinate efforts to create jobs and pursue a sustainable regional economy,” Hillhouse said. “When East-West Gateway was formed, its main purpose was to address surface transportation needs, but we also have grown to address other regional problems in a cooperative way, such as homeland security and disaster preparedness.” For the last eight years Hillhouse has been the presiding commissioner of Franklin County, which at 922 square miles is Missouri’s 4th largest county and with a population of 101,263 according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, is the state’s 10th most populous county. The county seat is Union and its largest municipality is Washington. The county’s population increased 8 percent from 2000 to 2009, making it one of the state’s fastest growing counties.

That experience governing a county that has rural, suburban and urban aspects will benefit Hillhouse, according to the vice-chairman of the East-West Gateway Board of Directors, Mark Kern, the Belleville-based chairman of the St. Clair County Board.
“At a time when regional perspective is needed more than ever, Ed Hillhouse has shown by his eight years on the East-West Gateway board that he has a clear grasp of both the need for that effort and the challenge of pursuing it,” Kern said. “Ed’s experience governing a fast-growing county gives him a background in economic development and government collaboration that should serve him well as East-West Gateway leads the metropolitan area in maintaining the St. Louis region’s growth and stability.”

Hillhouse is married to Shirley Hillhouse, a fourth-grade teacher at Labadie Elementary School in the Washington School District. In 2009, she was named the Gilder Lehrman American History Teacher of the year for Missouri. The Hillhouses have two sons, Heath, a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield; and Hart, a teacher in Pacific.

Hillhouse is a member of the advisory board of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association and the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging Board. He replaces Les Sterman as East-West Gateway’s executive director. Sterman was executive director for 26 years, leaving the post in June 2009. Since Sterman’s departure, Maggie Hales has served as the interim executive director. On Nov. 1, Hales will return to her prior position as deputy executive director.


Spoiling The Surprise

September 23, 2010 Media 55 Comments

urbanstlmvvaI was very disappointed Tuesday that urbanSTL.com spoiled the surprise, via an “urbanSTL Staff Report,” of the winner for the Arch competition:

urbanSTL has learned that the design team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. will be named the winner of the Framing a Modern Masterpiece competition. MVVA received a congratulatory phone call this past week and will be traveling to St. Louis to attend the official announcement this Friday. The remaining finalist teams, including Behnish, PWP, SOM and Weiss-Manfredi have now been notified that they did not win.

Couldn’t wait a few days for it to be announced?  Staff?  Everyone knows Alex Ihnen writes the bulk of the posts at urbanSTL.com.

Investigative journalism turns up that which is being kept secret – such as the outstanding reporting from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on S & H Parking) uncovered much that was meant to be kept from the public, led to the resignation of the chief of police and recently, admission of the owners to tax evasion. In April 2008 I broke the story that Pyramid Construction was being shuttered — there was no well-known date that either was going to be made public.

For months the date of Friday September 24, 2010 has been listed as the date the announcement would be made.  To steal the thunder of a group that has worked so hard to organize the competition just isn’t good journalism.

At 10:11am on Tuesday (9/21/2010) I received a media advisory about Friday’s 10am announcement at the Old Courthouse:

City + Arch + River 2015 Foundation will announce the winning design team and the next steps in the effort to enliven the area around the Gateway Arch and connect it to downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi River and the Illinois bank. Remarks will be followed by a question and answer session.

At 10:45am urbanSTL.com pulled the rug out from under the competition organizers. The original post indicated no information on the Friday announcement was known, even though it was. The post has been edited, with no indication of the change.  The “staff” must have made the change.

At 6:26pm I received a press release from the competition which I published in full: PR: MVVA Team Moves Forward in City+Arch+River 2015 Competition.  Clearly they didn’t intend to announce the winner days ahead of the scheduled date.

Next month marks the sixth anniversary of this blog.  In these six years I have tried very hard to have standards that would earn me the trust of you, the reader, as well as journalists and fellow bloggers.  I have served on the board of the St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and received recognition for my work from various publications, including St. Louis Magazine and The Riverfront Times. I’ve never hidden behind a “staff report” or other anonymous name, nor will I ever.

Do I like a scoop? Sure I do, but I’m not willing to undermine the work of many just so I can claim being first.

Tuesday was a sad day for the St. Louis blogging scene.

– Steve Patterson


PR: MVVA Team Moves Forward in City+Arch+River 2015 Competition

The following is a press release from this afternoon:

Sept. 21, 2010
MVVA Team Moves Forward in City+Arch+River 2015 Competition

“Strong Team and Solid Methodology” Pushes Team Led by Michael Van Valkenburgh into 90-day Program Analysis and Design Development Effort

ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and a multidisciplinary team introduced as experts in “urban renewal, preservation, commemoration, social connections and ecological restoration” have been picked for the planning phase of The City+The Arch+The River 2015 International Design Competition.

Leaders of the team will be introduced, along with details on the next stages of the process, at 10:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.

The jury chose the MVVA Team over four others competing to enliven the area around the Gateway Arch and connect it to downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi River and the Illinois bank. Based in New York, MVVA’s portfolio includes the redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park and many other prominent projects. (Please see the MVVA Team profile at end of this document for information on expertise and accomplishments of its members.)

In its final report, the competition jury called the MVVA Team “a strong team with solid methodology.” As a team, “they convey intelligence and provide clear technical support for their design proposals,” the jury report states.

“MVVA is an outstanding team that presented a winning combination of the ambitious and the manageable,” said Tom Bradley, Superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. “They showed great reverence for the beauty and significance of the existing site, while suggesting improvements and attractions in line with our competition goals. We’re excited to start planning.”

Over a 90-day period, the team will work in partnership with the sponsors, the City of St. Louis, the National Park Service and others to further define program requirements; begin developing a design that takes into account the feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions; create a construction budget and fundraising plan; and define the delivery expectations from now until 2015.

“Between now and January, we will be challenging the MVVA Team to rise to the challenge to do what’s best for the city, for the region and for this national park,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “The Arch is a national treasure, but it is intensely personal to people in and around St Louis. We will be working with Michael and his team, with continued input from the community and the experts, on creating the best solutions for the Arch grounds and the neighboring area.”

“There is huge potential for the Illinois riverbank area and collaboration on both sides of the river,” said Dr. Vaughn Vandegrift, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, who serves with Bradley, Mayor Slay and others on the competitions governing group. “Our discussions regarding Illinois intensified and evolved even after the competition was launched. There are opportunities for the Illinois riverbank area now that didn’t exist when we gave instructions to the teams. We will work closely with the MVVA Team to evaluate what they have proposed and expand from there.”

Strong support for project implementation was shared last month in a letter to competition organizers from the bi-partisan Missouri and Illinois congressional delegations and during a visit by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, who oversees the National Park Service and pledged to get the project done.

“This is another critical step in a continuum that began with the review of the park’s general management plan and continued on to the call for a competition, the skillful execution of the competition itself, today’s announcement of a winning design team, the establishment of an implementation team and a concept from which we can build,” said Bradley. “We are looking to this effort as a model for both public-private collaboration and improved connections between cities and our urban national parks.”

The MVVA Team’s design concept narrative describes their vision for the redesigned park as a “centerpiece of civic culture, an engine of regional economic growth, a showcase for sustainable ecological restoration and a celebration of the national significance of this historic place.”

The sponsoring group, the MVVA Team and others will host intensive reviews and workshops this fall to analyze the design concept and conduct a more detailed design exploration. At a minimum, the study will focus on the review of the technical advisory group, the impact on related downtown park properties and the Illinois side of the river, traffic and transportation and federal compliance issues.

The sponsors also will study issues relating to cost and construction, traffic, financial resources and federal compliance.

A monthly web-based progress report will update the public throughout the implementation period.

The eight-member jury counted among its members a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, a professor in the humanities, a former deputy director of the National Park Service, a real estate economist, a museum curator and renowned architects and landscape architects.

The jury shared its report and team rankings with the competition sponsor and managers after a series of presentations and tours of the community, competition site and exhibit of design concepts led by the sponsors and culminating in public presentations by the teams late last month.

The project will be constructed by Oct. 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Arch.

About the Competition

The goal of The City+The Arch+The River 2015 international design competition is to create an iconic setting for the international icon, the Gateway Arch, honoring its immediate surroundings and weaving connections and transitions from the city and the Arch grounds to the Mississippi River, including the east bank in Illinois.

The competition, launched Dec. 8, 2009, has had three stages. Portfolio submissions in Stage I included a description of the lead designer, a statement of design intent and philosophy of the lead designer, a profile of the design team and examples of their work. From the original 49 submissions, in February 2010, the jury picked nine to enter Stage II.

Stage II involved the formation of the complete teams capable of executing the project, submission of required qualifications and a jury interview. This phase culminated in early April 2010, when the teams met with the jury and the field was narrowed to five teams.

On April 28, 2010, at the beginning of Stage III, the finalist teams presented their design philosophies and examples of past work at a public “Meet the Design Teams” event in downtown St. Louis, hosted by sportscaster Joe Buck. This event was followed by a three month design concept competition to explore the finalists’ design approach and test their working methodology.

The design concepts went on display on Aug. 17, 2010, at the Arch and in an exhibit traveling throughout the bi-state region. Visitors were able to voice opinions about the design concepts in the first week of the exhibit. A synopsis of the more than 600 comments received was shared with the jury. The finalist teams presented their design concepts to the jury in public session on Aug. 26, 2010.

The final project design, budget and implementation plan will be presented in January 2011. The project will be constructed by Oct. 28, 2015.

The new design is called for in the National Park Service’s General Management Plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which was developed with extensive public input over an 18-month period and approved Nov. 23, 2009.

The competition is sponsored by the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, which includes National Park Superintendent Tom Bradley, St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay, community leaders from Missouri and Illinois, academics, architects and national park advocates.

Financial contributions to the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation are being handled by the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, a public charity with more than $140 million in charitable assets and representing more than 350 individual funds.

Donors to the competition include: Emerson, Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis (Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park), Peter Fischer, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Civic Progress, Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, Danforth Foundation, John F. McDonnell, Bryan Cave LLP, Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, National Park Foundation, Monsanto, Alison and John Ferring, Bank of America, David C. Farrell and others who choose to remain anonymous. The traveling exhibit was sponsored by Civic Progress member companies.

Competition information at www.cityarchrivercompetition.org.


The MVVA Team

Since 1982, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has completed over 350 landscape architecture and urban planning projects. MVVA has emerged as a leader in sustainable landscape design, with a particular interest in urban ecology, stormwater management, materials salvage, and soil remediation. Over the last decade, MVVA has designed several highly acclaimed, infrastructurally complex waterfront landscapes, including Brooklyn Bridge Park and Hudson River Park in New York, Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh, and the Lower Don Lands in Toronto. In addition, MVVA has successfully rehabilitated many historic landscapes, including the Harvard University campus, Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, and Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden in Columbus, Indiana. MVVA is one of the most consistently lauded firms in practice today; in addition to its many project awards-which include two 2010 Designing the Parks awards from the National Park Service-Michael Van Valkenburgh has been regularly commended for his contributions to the field. He won the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s 2003 National Design Award for Environmental Design, and this year he became only the second landscape architect to be awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture-Dan Kiley is the other.

Ken Greenberg is a leading expert on the life and design of the post-industrial North American city. His work includes the Lower Don Lands in Toronto, the Anacostia Waterfront in Washington, D.C., the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, and master plans for Philadelphia and Detroit; he was given the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Ed Uhlir masterminded the design and programming of Chicago’s Millennium Park, which has attracted $2.6 billion in tourism and has had a $1.4 billion impact on nearby property values. John Alschuler of HR&A Advisors has pioneered innovative phasing and financing schemes for large-scale urban projects including the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. Cooper, Robertson & Partners has designed programming for world-class institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum.

James Carpenter Design Associates has integrated art and architecture, with a particular focus on light and glass, in projects including 7 World Trade Center in New York and the Lens Ceiling in Phoenix, Arizona; James Carpenter was a 2004 MacArthur “genius” fellow. Steven Holl is one of the United States’ most eminent living architects; his record of built work includes the award-winning addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which consists of five “lenses” seamlessly integrated into a Dan Kiley landscape. Structural engineer Guy Nordenson has collaborated with Steven Holl and MVVA for many years, and has worked with Renzo Piano, Pei Cobb Freed, and many other leading architects.

Arup is a leading international engineering firm with a broad range of specialties; their work includes Hudson River Park and the East River Waterfront in New York, as well as the Sydney Opera House and work for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hydrological science and engineering firm LimnoTech has expertise in surface water modeling, contaminant analysis, wastewater and stormwater collection systems, and riverine and wetland hydrodynamics. Applied Ecological Services is a broad-based ecological consulting firm consisting of a multidisciplinary team of botanists, biologists, and ecosystem restoration specialists; its work includes environmental permitting efforts, natural resources inventories, and prairie and wetland restoration projects. ABNA Engineering provides local civil engineering support.

Throughout her career, Ann Hamilton has integrated multi-sensory public art installations into existing and newly built architecture and landscape projects; she was a 1993 MacArthur “genius” fellow. Elizabeth K. Meyer is a professor at the University of Virginia and one of the foremost American landscape theorists. In addition to her influential work on Dan Kiley, she has written about the complexities inherent in building new landscapes on industrial sites, and has argued for incorporating aesthetic concerns into the sustainability agenda. Award-winning design firm Project Projects specializes not only in identity and graphic design, but also wayfinding and public outreach efforts. They are supported locally by Vector Communications.