Art and Architecture | St. Louis, MO

Gateway Of The West

The Arch.

Eero Saarinen had a chance to express his own philosophy when he entered the 1947 architectural competition for Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. This was his first opportunity to establish himself as an independent architect, and he set out to design a monument not only to Thomas Jefferson and the nation, but also to the modern age. For him, "The major concern ...was to create a monument which would have lasting significance and would be a landmark of our time... Neither an obelisk nor a rectangular box nor a dome seemed right on this site or for this purpose. But here, at the edge of the Mississippi River, a great arch did seem right."

He carefully studied the site and its surroundings to ensure that the design encompassed the whole environment. His opinion was that, "...all parts of an architectural composition must be parts of the same form-world." The Arch was to rise majestically from a small forest set on the edge of the great river. Saarinen considered it to be perfect in its form and its symbolism.

The Arch was Saarinen's first great triumph, but there would be many more.The Gateway Arch marked the beginning of his career just as the "Gateway to the West" marked the beginning of a new life for countless pioneers. In both cases the desire was to move boldly toward the future.

March 2018
Photos: Jose Morales
Camera: Sony A7Rii & Leica M6