Citygarden, the two-block downtown oasis of trees and plants, water and sculpture, has won one of the nation's most prestigious awards in urban planning, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award.
The announcement was made today in Phoenix at ULI's spring meeting. ULI is a global, Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that seeks to promote "leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide."
"This is a really wonderful honor for the City of St. Louis and for the Gateway Foundation," Mayor Francis G. Slay commented. "ULI chose Citygarden from among 48 applicants across the country. The decision will bring flattering and well-deserved national attention both to the garden and to the City of St. Louis.
"We are very grateful both to ULI and to the Gateway Foundation," Slay added. "Gateway has been an extraordinary private partner to the City in this project."
The City of St. Louis owns the land on which Citygarden is located, and pays for the cost of water and electricity. Gateway spearheaded and financed the attraction and pays for its maintenance and other costs. The garden, which is between Eighth and Tenth Streets and Market and Chestnut Streets, opened July 1, 2009. It is free and open to the public 365 days a year.
The Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award was established two years ago to recognize "an outstanding example of a public open space that that has enriched and revitalized its surrounding community." Amanda Burden, who endowed the competition, is New York City's Planning Commissioner and served as a member of the 13-member jury of developers, planners, and architects from around the country that made the decision.
ULI announced in April that Citygarden had been chosen as one of five finalists for the award, saying the garden "has attracted diverse users, catalyzed nearby development, and changed perceptions of downtown." The other finalists were two projects each in Portland, Ore. and Houston.
Burden personally visited Citygarden May 6 along with another jury member, Mark Johnson, a Denver-based planner.
Burden and Johnson received a tour of the garden from representatives of the Gateway Foundation and Warren Byrd, a principal in Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the firm that designed the garden. They then met with Barbara Geisman, former deputy Mayor of the City of St. Louis, and Rodney Crim, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp.; with Jill McGuire, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission; and with Bob Duffy, associate editor of the St. Louis Beacon, the online daily newspaper.
Geisman and Crim described the impact the garden is having on downtown's current and future economic development; McGuire discussed how it has helped popularize public art throughout the region; and Duffy described how it has enhanced the community's sense of itself and its possibilities.
Accepting the award in Phoenix, on behalf of the City and the St. Louis-based Gateway Foundation, was Rodney Crim, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp.