I'd like to create some suspense with these entries but in this case I can't. Today we bludgeon the PWP, Foster, Civitas team and put them out of their misery.
Before I get too nasty, there are a couple passable aspects of this design that I can enumerate on all of my pinkie fingers. More on that later. As if the hand-drawn renderings weren't enough, the PWP flyover video, which was posted today with all the rest of the teams, is 4:54 of dead silence. Seriously? My 12 year-old cousin could add music to an animation, you're telling me nobody at Foster knows how to do it? The only plausible explanation is that the PWP team decided to go minimalist on the design and production expenditure so they could use the excess money to bride local officials. Other than that I'm at a loss.
Some thoughts. . .
1) This is kind of like complimenting a plus-sized lady on having big boobs but I like the Museum in this scheme. It's about the only thing I like. Foster clearly decided to shoot out one last flare from this sinking ship. The slit skylights are powerful and the worm's eye views of the arch from inside the museum are pretty cool.
2) An iconic earthwork mound on the other side of the river? I thought we already had one of those? There is no way this one could possibly mean more to the history of the region right? Just another example of the stone age thinking going on in this entry. Going for iconic is OK, but copying a culture we killed and suppressed (Native Americans in general) over centuries and then erecting a monument devoid of meaning that would attempt to upstage theirs in terms of attracting tourists is just funny. Oh and surrounding it with the trendy "urban agriculture" we have been force-fed here in St. Louis for a decade now doesn't help.
3) Honestly I really respect and admire the Illustrator for this team, Chris Grubbs. He's a Wash U guy and even was an illustrator for some projects I worked on at ROMA. But come on! Benisch is shopping their rendering out and getting photo-realistic results. SOM and BIG are pushing the envelope as well. For a competition that is about the future of St. Louis, it would be nice to see some 21st century rendering techniques. Chris' drawings are better than some renderings though. And what's that I spot? Sketchup? Yup, apparently PWP used the etch-a-sketch of 3D programs as their primary visualization tool. It makes their flyover video that much more believable.
4) Finally, it's hard to like this scheme when such things as "Future Cultural Facility" label an amorphous gray blob on your site plan. Or you totally neglect representing the connections from the arch grounds across the river. While SOM and BIG are reinventing cultural building typologies and landscapes and Weiss Manfredi is finding a place for solar panels to power new entertainment complexes, PWP puts a gray blob on the north and south side of the site and calls it good. If anything says, "We're just happy to get this far" it is that.
This kind of scheme is like a boring married couple who have let themselves go and now don't hesitate to put cheese on their double whopper when they go to Burger King three days a week. Conservative doesn't even begin to describe the lack of risk and creativity here. While I bet it was a deliberate strategy by PWP, St. Louis isn't that sleepy and boring. Thinking the public would gravitate to such a scheme is insulting. But watch the motherfucker win.
You already know what I'm going with. . . . 0.