The Gateway Arch, also known as Gateway to the West, Gateway to the Midwest or St. Louis Arch is a 192 metre (630-foot) tall monument, located in St. Louis in the U.S. , the state of Missouri. Made with stainless steel and designed in the shape of an inverted catenary arch, is currently the world’s tallest arch. The arch is located on the west bank of the Mississippi river at the St. Louis founding site.
The Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch in 1947, but the construction began in 1963 and took two years to complete. The Gateway Arch structure is unique on its own and has been designated as National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Architect Eero Saarinen
The architect Eero Saarinen, born on August 20, 1910, was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer. He studied at the Yale School of Architecture, which he completed in 1934. Saarinen started working for Office of Strategic Services(OSS) in 1940. There he worked on several projects, including designing the Situation Room in White House. Eero Saarinen, after the death of his father in 1950, founded his own architect firm and office, known as “Eero Saarinen and Associates”.
The architect received first prize in a competition for designing the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, while he was working for his father. His other works include designing the thin-shell concrete structures in Kresge Auditorium(MIT), in America. His most recognised work as an architect is the TWA Flight Center, which along with representing his previous work but also demonstrated his neo-futuristic vision as an architect. Some of his other architectural ventures are Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, main terminal of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., and Bell Labs Complex in New Jersey. He died in 1961, because of brain tumour, at the age of 51.
Also See: Architect Eric Owen Moss
Construction of the Gateway Arch
The date for the bidding was scheduled on January 22, 1962, in which all the details of the arch construction was to be announced. More than 50 companies that were interested in the project received invitations for the same. The project was given to the MacDonald Construction Co. of St. Louis, who has provided the lowest bidding price.The ground where the Arch have to be built was cleared in 1960, and the foundation for the Gateway Arch structure was laid in 1961. However, the construction didn’t begin before February 12, 1963.
The construction began with the placing of first steel triangle on the south leg of the Arch. These triangles were placed with the help of cranes. The arch comprises of 3.7 metres long(12-foot), 142 stainless steel sections. The sections had their walled skin filled with concrete, that was pre-stressed with a total of 252 tension bars. A scissors truss was installed between the partially completed legs at a height of 160 metres(530 feet), in order to keep the legs steady, which were later removed. The Gateway Arch was expected to be completed by fall 1964. However, the construction of arch was delayed various times due to legal disputes (laws and legalities associated with architecture), safety concerns and low funds.
Characteristics of the Gateway Arch
1. The arch is the tallest stainless steel monument in the world. The width and height of the Arch are equal, measuring at 192 metre(or 630 feet).
2. The arch design is hollow and has a unique tram system, that is installed to take visitors to an observation deck at the top of the Arch,
3. The arch is designed to withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour.
4. It’s also resistant to earthquake and can swing up to 18 inches in both the direction.
The observation centre designed at the top of the arch is open for visitors, that provides a spectacular view of the city. The Arch also has been famous between pilots, with more than nine aeroplanes flown through the Arch illegally.