The landscape architect Nelson Byrd Woltz designed the garden in a way that explores, mirrors, and celebrates the area’s natural history and ecology. A series of rain gardens helps treat the site’s storm water; three distinct ecological precincts within the park—River Bluffs, Flood Plains, and River Terrace—reflect their natural occurrence in and around St. Louis; and a 550-foot long wall of Missouri limestone evokes the nearby river bluffs. Regionally native plants also help connect the park and its visitors to the local geography.
Appreciation for the park has helped spur reinvestment in the surrounding neighborhoods. “The project has revived civic spirit, pride, and optimism,” says Cordani. She adds, Citygarden is fomenting the development of other projects in the area, including renovation plans for the Arch and Riverfront areas. In 2011, Citygarden was recognized with the Urban Land Institute’s Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award as a catalyst for development.
Over 20 highly regarded artists, including Fernand Léger, Mark di Suvero, Keith Haring, Martin Puryear, Jim Dine, Tony Smith, and Aristide Maillol, created pieces for the project. Their work elevates the park from a public gathering space to a destination in its own right. Citygarden has also generated renewed interest in the monumental Richard Serra sculpture, Twain, which sits adjacent to the new sculpture garden.
Citygarden has helped transform a long-dormant part of St. Louis by being both accessible and aesthetically pleasing. “Its spirit and character are disarming and friendly,” says Cordani. “And, despite the place’s stunning beauty, entirely unpretentious.”
All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.