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St. Louis’ New Citygarden

July 8, 2009 Downtown, Environment, Events/Meetings 29 Comments

Last week two blocks of St. Louis’ Gateway Mall were rededicated as Citygarden, a 2.9 acre garden sculpture park in downtown St. Louis.  The blocks, bounded by Chestnut, 8th, Market, and 10th, are part of the Gateway Mall project.  The Gateway Mall was declared done in 1993 when these two blocks got grass.  Yawn.  They are now far from boring.

Landscape Architect Warren Byrd of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of Charlottesville, VA speaks at the opening.

I’m very impressed by the transformation of these two city blocks.  Of course, given that the Gateway Foundation spent $25-$30 million on the project not including the sculptures you’d expect it to be nice.  It is, in fact, nearly perfect.  As regular readers might expect, I do have a few criticisms of the design.  Before I get into the few flaws I need to offer more well-deserved praise.

It is nearly impossible to take a bad picture of the place.  Just point & shoot and you’ve got a stunning image.  On numerous visits I’ve seen people taking photo after photo.  I’d bet more pictures have been taken in these two blocks during the last week than the 15 years prior.  I saw people taking overall pictures, snapshots of friends, and of the many sculptures.  People were spotted holding hands and even kissing.  Intimacy in a public space is a sign of success.  Citygarden is an instant hit with the public.

The space is highly accessible.  My visits have all been in my wheelchair and I had no problem getting to all the various levels and spots within the space.

There was even a spot where I could go through this “spray plaza” on my wheelchair. At no point did I feel left out because I was in a wheelchair.  The able-bodied probably won’t notice but to me it was important.  There are steps in places but the ramps are just as interesting a route as those with steps — not an afterthought to comply with the ADA.

The spray fountain, above, will be popular day & night.

The lighting, by Randy Burkett Lighting Design of Webster Groves MO, is beautiful.  This is a good spot to mention the arrangement.  The land and improvements are owned by the City of St. Louis, the sculptures are the property of the Gateway Foundation.  The city pays for water & electric while the foundation pays for the rest of the maintenance costs.  The electric bill will be huge but so are the benefits.

The two blocks are well organized into many different spaces that invite exploration and numerous visits.  The walkway above runs east-west connecting the spaces.  More on this later when I get to the flaws.

The Terrace View Cafe, in the NE corner, should open soon. The cafe building was design by Studio Durham Architects of St. Louis.  The modern design is very appropriate given the context of garden & art.  The cafe will be open 7am to 7pm Monday-Thursday and open until 10pm Friday & Saturday.  Unfortunately, it will be closed on Sundays.  I could see the cafe becoming the hot Sunday brunch destination.  As a downtown resident it is often the weekends when I’m out with friends enjoying good food and the city.  But I understand how places need one day off.  Jurors will now have a great new place to enjoy their lunch breaks.

As I indicated earlier the park is two city blocks with just under 3 acres in total area.  Yet they only have 3 bike racks and those are all contained in one small area kinda hidden from view (off Chestnut).    With two blocks you have 8 edges total.  I’d expect one rack per edge — placed at each edge so bike riders arriving from all directions will see a rack as they arrive.  In the middle they could get away with a single rack on one side of 9th Street for a total of 7 racks.  The racks used are a good design — both attractive and functional.  Their location is not in the same block as the cafe.  So someone biking over for a quick breakfast or lunch is probably going to use a parking meter on 8th rather than these racks.  If we want to be a bike friendly city we must have bike parking distributed everywhere — not pushed off into a hidden corner.

The name is wrong too — Citygarden.  I like City & Garden being pushed together without a space but it should be CityGarden with a capital G rather than lowercase g.

The gardens fall into the praise category.  The trees are very mature and the plantings are varied.  I may like the plantings more than the sculpture.

9th Street was narrowed to two lanes at Market & Chestnut.  In the center they have room to drop off passengers.  The gardens where the street was narrowed collects rain water from the street and other non-pervious surfaces.  The cafe is said to have a green roof.

Detail of rain garden.
Detail of rain garden.

I try to get into the flaw mode and positives keep popping up.  Let’s return to the central walkway. As the Gateway Mall concept was extended east of Tucker there were several concepts.  The winning plan was to have four buildings on the north half of four blocks.  People mistakenly think the blocks were going to be cleared, free of all structures,  and somehow Gateway One got built between 7th & 8th.  Wrong, Gateway One was part of the plan.  But part of the idea was to walk down the center of these blocks.   Crossing 9th Street the designers did a great job at making this vision a reality by providing ADA ramps and special paving at the crosswalk.  But what about going east or west?

This is where the design fails in the biggest way — It doesn’t do anything to connect with adjacent blocks.  The block to the west contains Twain by Richard Serra.  Ideally 10th Street should have been narrowed as 9th was.  Granted, that could have only been done on the east side of the street at this point.  But once the Serra block is redone we’d need to remake the west edge of Citygarden.  Mid-block crossings at 8th & 10th would have gone a long way toward finally integrating these blocks.

The north side of the Terrace View Cafe facing Chestnut is the least appealing.  As you would expect, the building focuses inward on the garden.  This sidewalk is stark.  On-street parking is prohibited on this side of Chestnut in this block only.    I can see a no-parking section to allow access to the trash container and to facilitate deliveries but banning on-street parking on for the entire block is excessive. At this point none of the on-street parking around these two blocks are market as disabled only.  I’ll work with city officials to get a few designated as such.  As with bike parking, these should be distributed rather than concentrated.

The absence of greenery along the 800 block of Chestnut is very noticeable as well.  Street trees would have done wonders to make this sidewalk more pleasant for pedestrians.

In a city with so many blocks of dead open space it is refreshing to have two that are lively and intriguing.  Much work remains to fix the other blocks of the Gateway Mall (Broadway to 21st).

Check out the 11-minute time lapse video of the construction of Citygarden here.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "29 comments" on this Article:

  1. john says:

    Two thumbs up but still not enough. Cycled there with my young sons last Friday to view and get their opinions. They loved it. Couldn’t wait to put their sweaty heads in the waterfall, take off their shoes and walk through the water. We took the chance of losing our bikes as we saw no racks and left them under a tree against the wall at the rain garden. Great photos.
    – –
    It’s amazing that finally locals get to experience what life is like when people are favored over cars. We got there early morning and there were easily over 400 people, all ages with big smiles, enjoying the water, gardens and sculptures. My sons usually choose to cycle to the Botanical Gardens for a walk and now have an alternative. I told them it will be a convenient stop when we’re coming back from our rides to the Chain of Rocks bridge, another favored destination.
    – –
    Extend the concept west to the to 21st street at a minimum, improve mid-block crossings, and keep the streets closed. IMO this should extend all the way to Forest Park by making highway 64 the western section of Market… then we would have something to be proud of for a change. The “green ribbon” should link our great (central) Park with the Gateway to the West Park. The visitors to the All Star game will have a chance to enjoy something more than just a ball game.

  2. Brian S. says:

    City Garden is just part of the Gateway Mall master plan, which includes revamping Kiener Plaza and the blocks west of Tucker.

    I just wish that Twain was tied into the rest of City Garden a little better, with new plantings, pedestrian crossings, etc.

  3. Anon. says:

    Steve, Thanks for the review, but I don’t know if this is quite right about Gateway One being part of the plan from the very start. For one, the idea of the Gateway Mall (though not by that name) goes all the back to the Civic League’s 1907 City Plan for St. Louis, and as I recall there is only open space in that version.

    For another, the addition of commercial development within the Mall was the topic of quite a big fight in the mid-1980s. When HUD rejected Gateway Mall funding requests due to a lack of local matching grants, the idea of increasing the role for private development moved to the fore. Gateway One then got added to the plan, angering both preservationists (who disliked the destruction of three historic buildings on the Mall to make way for new office buildings) and advocates of the original open parkway design. Aldermanic President Thomas Zych said in the Post-Dispatch: “We’re not going to get … a completely open parkway. … Aesthetics are one thing. When you’re talking about a $100 million project, you can’t go on aesthetics.”

    You might take a look at James Neal Primm’s Lion of the Valley (3rd ed., pp. 505-511) for a more detailed summary.

    [slp — Correct, the original vision was open space from Tucker to Union Station and eventually to Grand! When the Arch was completed no doubt people thought open space to the east of the Civil Courts but the buildings were still standing when the four half block building idea was floated for the reasons you suggest – $. But the space wasn’t cleared to be open and then Gateway One landed in the middle. ]

  4. a.torch says:

    From the P-D: The block of Ninth Street that bisects the new Citygarden downtown is freshly paved and striped but white plastic barricades are keeping the roadway traffic free.

    Turns out the new sculpture garden’s popularity is so great that the people in charge of the project are worried that opening Ninth Street to traffic now would be a hazard to the throngs of park visitors.

    (Ninth may be closed until Fall)

  5. Bryan Oekel says:

    Looks beautiful! I hope the “spray plaza” fountains get as much use as they do in Centennial Park in Atlanta. On hot days little kids from all walks of life have a blast playing together in the water. On any given weekend it looks like stock photography from a travel brochure highlighting the city’s diversity.

    What a great thing for St. Louis. I’ll admit the Pinocchio statue perplexes me a bit, but it sure looks like a wonderful addition to downtown.

  6. john says:

    Steve, can you some day provide more on the “eventually to Grand” plan? That would be grand and to Clayton road would be really Grand.

  7. Pinocchio statue’s and water jets: what downtown needs!

    From 1983-84, Real Estate Row was not only cleared because of the desire for a view of the Arch, but because they were viewed as ugly buildings by Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Corporation (Architect George Hellmuth, who worked on Pruitt-Igoe, said they were the ugliest in town. Before RER Anna Louise Huxtable flew in to justify demolition of the DeMenil Building formerly next to the Wainwright). These interests primarily wanted new buildings because they believed suburban firms would be attracted back to the City, or existing ones wouldn’t leave. Most importantly they made money on this deal. Despite plans existed for the rehab of these buildings, that numerous letter were sent from Colleges of Architecture Nationally, that they were on the National Register, that citizens filed suit and also collected a petition to get the matter on the ballot, they were torn down.

    These were not vacant buildings, but housed smaller yet prestigious law firms among others including Vincent Igoe – who fired off a cannon from the top of the International Life Building when he won a case. Many of these firms were in these buildings from the beginning. They didn’t want to leave – and probably wouldn’t have extorted the City for a parking garage as Thompson Coburn did. Finally, these smaller firms gave a lot of recent graduates their first start at employment. Being in the City, that’s a great way to get people hooked.

    Continuing the failed concept of the Gateway Mall, in 1993 the City bought the blocks between 8th and 10th and cleaned them for park space. We got this pathetic park and not newer mixed use buildings, and needed residents, because as Richard Mantia said of the plan to demolish Real Estate Row “We want everyone to know that the Gateway Mall is an inevitability.” Peter Ferrara, who had his firm in the Title Guaranty, said “The monied interests – Centerre, General American, (Robert) Hyland – say sit and everybody sits. They’re calling the shots. Since 1907 we have not abandoned this idea and due to hubris and delusion we still continue.

    Larry Bushong, former head of SLDC, said of the blocks which now occupy City Garden, “We own the property. The money is in the bank. And we are set to do the work and get the park built.” $950,000 was set aside before for landscaping with $17.5 million in tax credits being allocated to purchase property on these blocks and also pay off the debts of the former Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Corporation. H. Edwin Trusheim, chairman of General American Life Insurance company, said, “…the park-like expanse, coupled with noontime actives in an existing amphitheater, will bring a welcome distraction from all of downtown’s concrete and glass…selling point for corporations and businesses to move downtown.” We never got an amphitheater, an Aqua Center, underground parking, an ideal view of the Arch, and finally we didn’t get any huge firms.

    The broader Gateway Mall occurred inherently because we hate our City, building diversity, and still believe that green space is required for our success. Real Estate Row occurred partly due to architectural bias — but it really was about money and the misguided top-down approach taken by Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Corporation with the approval of Mayor Schoemehl (who did not consider plans to renovate the occupied buildings within Real Estate Row). The same process guides the Gateway Mall and City Garden as citizens were not included in the planning process, but rather told of the Plan by the “omniscient elites” and that they should accept it.

    The concept of the Mall came out of the City Beautiful Movement and no longer applies. The arguments were that these grand projects would instill good moral behavior and also address issues of public health which were erroneously associated with these “ugly buildings.” As with the problems that may have existed in Mill Creek and Soulard — no interior plumbing, overcrowded buildings as in too many in a given structure — these are addressed with technology like adding plumbing, no longer burning coal, etc. What then remains is the idea that cities are dangerous, unlivable, and therefore must been “greened.” In reality a livable City has diverse architecture, uses, which contribute to a vibrant street life. These cannot exist with the solitary single use office space that lines the Mall — buildings owned or housed by the same players that tore down Real Estate Row.

    My problem with City Garden is not that it’s generic and could exist in any City. My problem with City Garden is not that it’s a pathetic attempt to copy Millennium Park in Chicago, without considering that suburbanites and even non-Downtown City Residents will tire and visit their own neighborhood parks. The inherent problem with City Garden revolves around the top down process that brought about its incarnation and that these guys have had many decades, buildings lost, to get it right.

    Ultimately City Garden, and Downtown, cannot succeed without a substantial residential population. Washington Avenue isn’t enough. We needed Real Estate Row, those law firms, a few of the buildings converted to residential, these blocks to not be cleared in 1993 and similar conversions done where appropriate, then finally the removal of Twain and perhaps a smaller version of this park place on that block. We already have too much green space. Sorry, decades of practice reveals that 5PM office workers, with penchants for parking garages and sky bridges, cannot support these public spaces alone. Since we lost real Estate Row and these blocks, instead of spending 30 million on this park we should have given away the land and developer it.

    30 million could have been better used on perhaps the Kiel Opera House, the Mullanphy, the DeVille Motor Hotel, the James Clemens Mansion, the Police HQ, or any other threatened building. Yet as Bushong said it’s in the bank and as Mantia indicated the Gateway Mall is inevitable.

  8. ^All of this information is available within Larry Giles’ Gateway Mall Scrapbook (a compilation of all news articles, letters, etc., involving the Mall since the early 1970’s, available non-circulating at Missouri Historical Societies Library on Skinker. Thanks to Mr. Giles, I’m fortunate to have my own copy.

  9. Andrew says:

    One more nitpick about the name:

    While I’m very pleased that it’s not the Corporate Name Here Citygarden, the unnecessary period is tacky. It also makes branding tricky. How am I supposed to refer to it in writing?

    “I met up with Joe and Sarah at Citygarden. before the ballgame last night.”


  10. Jimmy Z says:

    In addition to “a substantial residential population”, downtown needs to attract back employers, as well. We need business, probably more than residential, since business generates more in taxes and provides the incomes that make it possible for people to afford to live downtown! Many of us envy downtown Chicago because it’s busy, thriving and interesting, day or night, and it’s attractive to both business and residents.

  11. Dennis says:

    It all looks nice but I still hate that stupid lookin sierra sculpture. I wish it could just be hauled away.

  12. STLEdge says:

    I can see this from my office window, and was wondering if anyone knew what the grass on the roof of the cafe was for – if it was to grow food I would be even more impressed, but it looks like a simple grassy rectangle.

  13. Jerry A says:

    Are there any restrooms nearby? My wife and her friend went with two little ones, and they ended up going to a restroom in one of the big office buildings. Are there really no public restrooms for this garden? Maybe that’s why it’s a garden not a park.

  14. Jim,

    As I pointed out, we had businesses in Real Estate Row and these cheaper rents “diversified” our business district so perhaps that when we have a firm like TC saying they’ll leave, then were not totally dependent on them. Moreover, again, when a firm starts out small Downtown, and the City works with them instead of evicting them for a new building that houses larger firms, when they do grow perhaps they’ll be more likely to stay.

    The Gateway Mall will never be a driver of business development — at least until we give away the land and promote new Class A. What about this City Garden would attract businesses Downtown?

    Chicago is attractive day and night because people live there! Those that leave after 5 are offset by those that reside. The Mall has no residential currently and after the buzz over City Garden ends it will probably revert to a less lively state.

  15. St. Louis Centre was popular as well — I remember it as a kid. My uncle was a manager at Dillards. Now both are dead occupied by pigeons. We didn’t have enough residents to support it and suburbanites got tired of parking and whoops the Galleria opened with free parking. When suburbanites stopped coming Downtown smaller businesses — and also Dillard’s, failed. We need people living in the vicinity to support such parks and also retail. This is nothing new, but have we learned anything? City Garden does not have the allure of Forest Park with its Internationally renowned institutions, MoBot, and it does not come close Chicago’s Millennium Park. I’ve visited City Garden 3 times. After visiting a few times, it’s nothing so amazing that a southside resident, or countian, would drive the extra mile for when they have Tower Grove or another park even closer.

  16. a.torch says:

    Do we have to destroy more of the grid and close 9th street permanently as some folks are now requesting….come on! This is downtown not the French Quarter.

  17. john says:

    Understand and let’s hope this is just a first step in many to come. Certainly my sons and other young ones will have “positive” feelings about the urban environment. Yes they love Chicago, Millennium Park and Lake Michigan as they go there several times a year. They’ve cycled that water front too, understand that StL isn’t Chicago and probably will never be close.
    – –
    Can it and should it be improved? Definitely, keep 9th street closed, make the needed improvements and expand westward. At least we now have a positive and attractive diversion from the auto-centric streets and a place where downtown employees can meet, enjoy a lunch or coffee break together. Hopefully the corporate leaders in the surrounding offices will find ways to make their buildings more people friendly to enhance the benefits of the park,… otherwise it will be just another park.

  18. Angelo says:

    Woo, any more of these sorts of development projects and I’d swear we were living in a real city.

  19. Terri Schmitz says:

    Just visited the city this week. Garden was nice, but we seemed to have to do alot of walking from the Hilton where we stayed among constant tall buildings…..not any shops to look in or sidewalk restaurants. Area to stadium lacked shops & restaurants too. Not much activity other than workers for the All Star game. The Arch was absolutely wonderful to experience, but it was a big turnoff to cross the highway with our children. It was not nice to walk to The Landing for lunch either with the highway and parking garage we had to pass. It is really ashame for the city to have the highway cut off the waterfront from the river. There was nothing to keep us downtown to walk to, so we left the city early and headed back east.

  20. Tom says:

    Steve thanks for all the pictures and extensive coverage of Citygarden. From a St. Louisian living away, it is great to understand the details of a visit to the park – I look forward to seeing it later this summer. In follow up to the comment above, does anyone know the status of the plans to build a large bridge or top over the highway to better connect downtown to the waterfront?

  21. GMichaud says:

    Terri that is exactly the problem with this whole project. Urban planning in the city is nonexistent. Only if it puts money into pockets of the elites is anything accomplished. And as D Duckworth points out the citygarden “revolves around the top down process that brought about its incarnation” Yet their ignorance has been proven over and over. (so why does their power over the city continue?)

    To Jerry, whose child has to pee. The City of London has free standing public restrooms stationed all around their downtown (permanent, not johnny on the spots), St. Louis is too pure for that sort of thing. They are simply preparing for the day when nobody returns to downtown and there is no need for pesky devices like toilets. (You know save valuable tax money and besides since when is a toilet a sculpture?)(apologies to Duchamp)

    So citygarden is attractive, so what?, after the initial bloom has worn off it will languish like the Arch and its surroundings. The comments of Terri Schmitz define the situation perfectly.

  22. Brady Dorman says:

    Nice review of the new park. The spay fountain plaza looks intriguing. This gives me a reason to revisit St. Louis now. I’m not a huge fan of the name “Citygarden” – even if that g were capitalized. If anything I’d prefer City Garden with a space if it must be that so it is dignified. CityGarden seems too much of a branding, but Citygardens makes even less sense to me. Oh well – it’s really about the space anyway!

  23. Matthew E. says:

    As a non-St. Louis resident I have to say I like Citygarden. I visited just a few days after it opened, and found it to be a very well done place.

    That being said, the garden really shows the work that needs to be done downtown to make it more freindly to people coming in. First, I agree that the block that holds “Twain” really should have been incooperated into the plan somehow. I mean, there was already a large scuplture there, so the foundation wouldn’t need to buy one. If they had just redone the sidewalks around that block, it really would have been an improvement and would have improved the 3 blocks between Gateway One and the Civil Courts. Instead, you have two blocks that are very nice, and one that looks old and dated.

    A second thing, the buildings downtown are not pedestrian freindly. As someone who is somewhat architectural savvy, this is not an isolated St. Louis problem, but more an architectural one. “Modern” architecture almost never provided space for shops and restarants that greatly improve any downtown. That’s called multi-use, and that concept seemed to be considered dated by modernists. So, in the blocks around Citygarden, there isn’t any place for someone to drop in and get something to drink or eat, unless you stop by the new cafe in the garden. Oh, there are a few places to eat, but they are all in the parking garages!

    One other thing. Many have talked about the Gateway One. Whether or not it was planned from the beginning, Citygarden really shows (at least to me) what a mistake it really is. For one, it does not relate to ANYTHING but itself. It blocks what would be a very good view of the Arch and Old Courthouse from the garden. It also blocks any good views of downtown’s most historic building, the Wainwright. Its too bad the older buildings of Real Estate Row were demolished for this one building.

  24. Aidan says:

    To Douglas Duckworth,

    I find your criticisms a bit overblown. You say that “we need people living in the vicinity”. I know that downtown needs more people to sustain itself, but 12,000 people (5-6,000 in the core) is surely a good start.

    Only time will tell how this project fares, but I feel that it should be made clear that this is NOT St. Louis Centre. This is not a suburban-style shopping mall complete with a parking garage slapped in the middle of downtown. This is not “pathetic” or “generic”. This is a well-designed public space. This is a world-class garden in our city’s center. It has been full of people day and night, and I know that for me it has been a park that I am continually drawn to. I agree that we have too much green space downtown, but at least someone finally created something special with the available green space instead of creating more grass-covered lots.

    Bemoaning the loss of buildings (which, I agree, is extremely unfortunate) won’t get us anywhere. The city (top-down process and all) has created a vibrant garden where there once was grass. It’s better than nothing, right? Millennium Park in Chicago had criticisms as well regarding its management, yet people still travel downtown just to hang out and look at the Bean. The same can be said for Citygarden. I’ve witnessed so many people over the past week bringing their children and grandchildren downtown with towels just to play in the fountains and hang out in the park. It’s a wonderful sight.

  25. southsidered says:

    I think the place is brilliant and a huge addition to downtown. I don’t think any of the kids, seniors, hipsters, tourists, or office workers I see hanging out there are kvetching about it being “a pathetic copy of Millennium Park” or whatever other minutiae concerns a congenital bore and reflexive whiner like Douglas Duckworth. They’re just enjoying a public space in St. Louis that, for once, actually engages their attention.

    Thanks, Steve, for admitting when our city finally gets something (mostly) right. There’s a lot more to do, but this is a step in the right direction.

  26. L. Klein says:

    sidewalks are too narrow in some places for people to pass easily, tree branches get in the way — the AT&T view is GRIM. If you want to see it from above let me know and I can take you into the bldg as a guest to look out the windows

  27. Caroline S. says:

    “You won’t find fences, admissions fees, or “DO NOT TOUCH” signs because at Citygarden you are always free.” –Citygarden Pamphlet
    There is no nice way to put it- downtown St. Louis is ugly. Trash litters the sidewalks, windows are broken and boarded up, and most buildings are shades of grey. But breaking the grey, on two blocks between Market and Chestnut and 8th and 10th Street, is an oasis called the Citygarden. The Citygarden is a sculpture garden filled with lush landscape, pools and fountains, and a café. The Citygarden is a break from the surrounding world of office buildings, lunch meetings, and errand running. The Citygarden has no admission fees, no walls, and no gates. The Citygarden is an amazing experience every time and it is a place where you are simply free.
    A plan for Citygarden was thought up in 1999 by the Gateway Foundation, a group seeking to improve and enhance public spaces, especially through the use of art. Finally in 2009, the dream of the Citygarden became a reality. The Citygarden contains over 20 sculptures and is laid out to represent the state of Missouri. The garden contains 3 “bands”- the northern river bluffs band, the middle floodplain band, and the southern river terrace band. These areas represent the rivers, limestone bluffs, and terraces in the Missouri geographical landscape. Although these “bands” are thoroughly described in the pamphlet, only a handful of Missouri enthusiasts would be able to tell you about them. Nonetheless, geographical layout of the garden does not take away from the beauty.
    In the Citygarden there are 23 different sculptures, each of them very unique ranging from steel to LED, the size of a human to the size of a bus, and very child-like to serious. There are no “DO NOT TOUCH” signs or lines you cannot cross. In fact, the Citygarden encourages you to come up and touch, climb, and play on the sculptures. This is so refreshing from normal museums. Although I am a huge fan of art museums, some are so restrictive, with security guards at every doorway and alarms that go off if you stand too close to a sculpture. The only security guards you will see in the Citygarden are there to answer questions and make sure it is a safe place to be.
    Out of the numerous sculptures in the Citygarden I have my favorites. “This is Kiera and Julian Walking”, created by Julian Opie, is a moving sculpture. Two figures walking are displayed in bright LED lights on a tall video screen. The figures are human sized, and appear to be walking across the screen. The artist eliminated the majority of detail, leaving us with just the figure of a man and a woman walking. This is simplistic, but also carries the heavy message that we are all the same. This sculpture adds to the unique character of the garden because it actually shows movement.
    “Untitled (Two Rabbits), created by Tom Claassen, is a playful sculpture of two large white rabbits sitting in the grass. At first glance, these rabbits look almost like fluffy marshmallows, but in fact they are made of bronze and then painted a glossy white. The heavy material competes with the playfulness of the sculpture. These rabbits are my favorite sculpture in the Citygarden because it reminds me that even though there is always work to do and time to be serious, you always have to let a little fun in your life.
    “The Door of Return”, created by Kan Yasuda, is a large archway with what looks like a seed splitting open at the top. This sculpture is a little different than some of the others in the garden because of its shape, but it still fits perfectly into the flow of the garden. The title of this piece, “The Door of Return”, makes you think. If we go through this door what is the place we are returning to? And where did we come from? I enjoy this sculpture because it makes me think, and it can have different meanings for each viewer. The Citygarden contains many different sculptures, and they all complement each other and are spaced throughout the garden among walking pathways, in fountains, and behind walls. I find that the sculptures are more enjoyable that way because you happen upon them instead of having them all crammed into a single art gallery.
    Another enjoyable part of the Citygarden are the fountains and pools. In the middle part of the gardens, there are fountains that spray up from the ground. This is enjoyable for kids and even some parents. Also there are two pools located in the garden. One pool contains a sculpture, and the other contains stepping stones to walk over. You will also find some kids playing in the pools and splashing in the water. This is because the water has been treated with chlorine, so it is more like a swimming pool. I think this is especially unique to the garden because most fountains cannot be played in, and the ability to play in the fountains just adds to the “no rules” atmosphere of the garden.
    The garden is beautiful by day and equally beautiful by night. When the sun sets, the garden is lit up by hundreds of lights specially designed to enhance each sculpture. The sculptures look completely different at night, so the garden provides two different experiences everybody should take advantage of.
    Another wonderful thing about the garden is the people. When visiting the garden, you are bound to run into all different types of people. There are parents having play dates with their toddlers, teenagers climbing the sculptures, and people taking photographs. The best part of the garden is the sense of community: all different types of people can enjoy the garden together. Kids play together in the fountain, splashing around as if they have been friends for years. People sit on the benches enjoying lunch and converse with others around them. The diversity and togetherness of the people who visit the Citygarden enhance the atmosphere and breaks down cultural differences and allows people to be free.
    And as if the garden wasn’t already great, you can also feel good about visiting because it is eco friendly. The garden maps are printed using wind power, plants and trees are watered using a “rain garden” system, and environmentally friendly green roofing systems are used on the care and maintenance buildings.
    The Citygarden was a great investment for the city of St. Louis. The garden adds serenity to the downtown area and provides art for kids and adults to enjoy. The Citygarden is an amazing place that everybody should experience at least once in their lives.
    “Citygarden is so fun and unique in the way the artwork is displayed: it’s outside, in the middle of the city, and it’s free. People have a chance to become a part of the sculptures by being allowed to touch and climb them, and you can just be free.” –Sonja P.

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