St. Louis icon features Plexineon along a walkway to a new park
An international icon has been undergoing a facelift. The “St. Louis Arch” — formally named the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial — is a landmark national park and monument to the nation’s push to expand westward.
Originally unveiled in 1967, the memorial is in the final stages of improving the “Arch experience” with a $380 million renovation of the riverfront, surrounding parks and museums, as well as the steel Arch itself. The goal has been to increase accessibility to visitors, while restoring the area as a centerpiece for the city and a tourist attraction.
Among the improvements is the new ‘North Gateway,’ which serves as a second key entrance to the park. It includes an elevated pedestrian walkway lit with iLight Plexineon White 1X 3500K LED fixtures. As part of the design plan conceived by international landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the walkway provides access to 7.5 acres of new park space where a parking garage once stood, while also creating a unique vantage point for viewing the park and the Arch.
The Design Challenge
One challenge was that the 3oo-foot walkway acts as a bridge across two elevations, connecting the historic pedestrian pathways and allées of the original park directly to the new space and a nearby commercial district. The graceful curving shape assists in managing the elevation change and desire to provide an ADA compliant slope. The goal was to keep the design minimalist, so plans called for incorporating lighting into the walkway handrail.
“We wanted to keep the entire system as small as possible – minimize it in a c-channel,” says Rich Fisher, design associate at RBLD, which was tapped to do the lighting design. “The objective was to have a pleasant glow and light without really seeing where it came from.”
The fixture profile not only needed to be small; the fixture needed to have flexibility so it could follow the curve of the structure and handrail.
“It needed to be lit to make safe passage, but also to feature the walkway as a glowing object when seen from afar,” Fisher adds. “It’s become a little jewel that stands out – gracefully transitioning from one elevation to the next across this large open space.”
The design team chose iLight Plexineon because they knew from past experience it would provide excellent light quality and consistency, along with flexibility.
“It’s very soft and consistent — the brightness was right where we needed it to be. Being continuous and on both sides of the walkway allows for a uniform effect the entire length.”
– Rich Fisher, Design Associate, RBLD
The Plexineon Advantage
The result is the direct glow of Plexineon onto the metal grate walking surface, without actually seeing the fixture. “There wasn’t much depth in the handrail, but we were able to work with the entire project team to conceive a mounting solution so that we could keep the light source tucked from view from most angles,” Fisher says.
In addition, he says the light quality was spot on. “It’s very soft and consistent — the brightness was right where we needed it to be. Being continuous and on both sides of the walkway allows for a uniform effect the entire length.”
He adds, “This area of the renovation is one of the biggest areas of transformation – from garage to new park space. The walkway gives you a chance to be above it all, and the Plexineon creates a bit of sparkle with the grating that you can see from a distance at night.”
St. Louis Gateway Arch Park
St. Louis, MO
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Plexineon White 1X 3500K
1,255 LF (382.5 m)