The monumentality of the Gateway Arch makes it impossible to transform the Memorial and its grounds with one bold stroke. Instead, the MVVA team proposes a network of finer-grained interventions incorporating natural science, engineering, and design into a holistic philosophy of ecological urbanism.So when I saw the MVVA quote above issued in their project statement I immediately thought of this (Yes, it is Sunday and I have football on the brain). HELLO MVVA, you play to win the game! Not just to play, but to win. Long live Herm Edwards. We talked about how it seemed like PWP was just happy to make the finals based on shoddy renderings and an amateurish flyover. In MVVA's case it seems like winning was never part of the ingrained strategy. I know little things can add up to a lot, but when they are Avian and Aquatic research centers I wonder if we aren't subtracting instead of adding. Some thoughts. . .
1) Part of the exercise of holding a competition with this high of a profile is to generate excitement that can be sustained over the next five years. If you move the meter as they say, you'll start moving the money too. Undoubtedly, the winning scheme will have to excite the public and the private sectors to the tune of $milllions$ in investment. With that said, MVVA gives us an Avian Research Center. I just wet my pants with excitement. No really! No disrespect to you bird watchers out there but you make Bill Belichick look excitable. MVVA's game plan for the Illinois side: "Let's flood it and make a research center that appeals to .02% of the population our centerpiece".
2) Just so I don't look like a hypocrite, you'll recall that I lauded the Weiss/Manfredi team for using a ferry loop to link both sides of the river. MVVA does that as well and makes a compelling case as to how to engineer it. In my opinion it's the most engaging way to allow pedestrians to cross the river. But unlike W/M, MVVA doesn't conceive of transportation as holistically or as elegantly. Which leads me to. . .
3) The Levy. The place where that ferry would land and where you would see the kind of activity rendered above. NOT! It's as if MVVA thinks the only people coming to the memorial are bird-watching triathletes. Hello! (thanks Herm) The midwest is full of beer drinking, sausage eating, overweight tourists. Eliminating Wash Ave. and Leonor K Sullivan
Boulevard (the road along the levy now) would be colossal mistakes. Seriously, this is America, the land of the free and home of the fat and/or elderly tourist. Someone who in 90 degree heat will curse the fact that they have to walk 1/2 a mile to reach the river. A simple resurfacing of the road or traffic calming would make the levy instantly more ped-friendly. It's too bad because I like the obelisk markers quite a bit. What a great way to gauge the level of the river instantly.
4) Just thought I would mention a little thing we architecture folks call "word diagrams", which translates into regular English as "Bullshit". You'll see below some lovely multi-colored words arranged neatly on a plan. Nice enough. "Cool" you might even say. Actually from a design standpoint I like this well enough. But I just wanted to say "MVVA, I'm on to you." I know from personal experience you throw together some word diagrams at the 11th hour when you are looking to fill some space on your boards. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. I'm just sayin.
So I'll turn to sports to be my crutch for one more analogy that I think sums up MVVA's competition entry. For you and I and all the 10 + handicappers out there, if we make par it's a good thing. I know for me it is. But when you are playing with the big boys on Sunday and you get to a straightforward par 5, par should be the farthest thing from your mind. A par is an opportunity lost because the rest of the field is getting birdies and Tiger and Phil have make-able puts for eagle. When we tally up our scorecard at the end of the round we might think, "Huh, I got a par on 16. Not bad!" Losing mentality. And really we can't even begin to understand what that missed opportunity will cost us in the long run. Same thing here. There are too many missed chances and content, banal gestures that I can't give anything to this entry but a 0.