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St. Louis Arch Renovated Visitor Center and Museum Awarded LEED Gold Certification

February 5, 2019

In St. Louis, MO, the newly renovated Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch has been awarded LEED Gold in recognition of the building’s sustainable site development, water savings and building materials.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the nation’s most widely recognized and accepted green building rating system. The Visitor Center and Museum join the exclusive ranks of only 10 other LEED-certified sites in the National Park Service and 185 LEED projects in St. Louis.

Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates, with Trivers Associates, designed the expanded and renovated Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch, which now boasts a new glass entrance and plaza, along with additional galleries, public education facilities and visitor services.

The revamped museum opened to the public last summer as the cultural centerpiece of an ambitious renewal of the 91-acre Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis. The 150,000-square-foot structure is located almost entirely underground, with a 3.1-acre green roof also serving to maximize surrounding park space beneath Eero Saarinen’s iconic arch.

Photos courtesy of C.C. Sullivan

“The National Park service has ambitious sustainability goals that the design team embraced enthusiastically. In addition to a 3.1-acre extensive green roof, the building features further sustainable and resilient design components such as LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems and close connections to local public transportation networks,” says Scott Newman, FAIA, director of Cooper Robertson and lead architect for the project.

Features of the Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch that contribute to the LEED Gold certification include:

  • 99 percent of the roof of the new Museum at the Gateway Arch is vegetated, drastically reducing the “Heat Island Effect” and maximizing the amount of open park space. This results in an unimpeded view of the Gateway Arch and more room for visitors to roam and explore the grounds on foot.
  • More than 80 percent of the construction waste and demolition debris generated by the project has been diverted from landfills or incineration facilities.
  • Low-flow water fixtures reduce the overall project’s potable water usage by more than 31 percent from the baseline.
  • Energy cost savings for the project are 24 percent below the baseline.
  • Materials used throughout the project were selected based on their recycled content, are regionally extracted and manufactured (within 500 miles), and wood products have met responsible forest management requirements.
  • Low-emitting materials were selected to benefit the indoor air quality.
  • Throughout the project there are dedicated areas for the collection and storage of materials for recycling.
  • The project is closely connected to local public transportation systems including two Metrolink stops, Arch/Laclede’s Landing and 8th & Pine, that are within a half-mile walking distance and provide more than 450 combined stops per day.

Additional measures across the national park grounds ensure the entire Gateway Arch National Park is environmentally smart. Water cisterns collect or recycle stormwater and guard the Mississippi River and reflecting ponds from run-off. The North Gateway replaced a parking garage and is now a “carbon sink” that drains emissions from the air. Tree soil, bioswale soil and structural soils were custom mixed to ensure healthy plant growth. Liquid Biological Amendment (compost tea) restores missing organisms and nutrients to the soil. Radishes were planted to naturally aerate the ground, as they decompose and enrich the soil.

Mike Ward, superintendent for the Gateway Arch National Park, said in a press release that reducing their environmental impact is a top priority across the National Park Service. “The sustainability measures we instituted here meet that goal, and they also create an enjoyable visitor experience across our beautiful park.”

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Adrian Schley | Associate Editor

Adrian Schley is an Associate Editor for i+s, where she has been covering the commercial interior design industry since 2018. Her work can also be found in BUILDINGS and Meetings Today.