A renowned urban park and sculpture garden in the heart of St. Louis, Citygarden has grown into one of the most popular attractions in the downtown core. Once two blocks of open grass, the Garden was conceived as an inviting and inspiring place that visitors would enjoy year round while promoting the economic well-being of St. Louis. The culmination of a $30 million investment, Citygarden is a realization of that goal.
Officially opened in 2009, Citygarden combines the originality of an art exhibit with the openness and accessibility of a city park. 24 unique sculptures permanently reside in the park, with the larger installations occupying wide lawns and smaller spaces reserved for more intimate works. Each sculpture is owned and maintained by the city. Interestingly, park visitors are free to touch the sculptures and even walk inside them.
Drawing inspiration from local topography and the nearby Mississippi River, water is also one of the predominant design elements within the park. Three unique fountains are interspaced with the sculptures and plant life to augment the visitor experience. The main water feature is a playful spray plaza that inhabits Citygarden’s middle tier. Consisting of vertical jets which propel water up to 7ft (2m) in the air, the plaza is meant to be fully interactive. Both children and adults alike are welcome to wander through its preprogrammed patterns and sequences. At night, the spray plaza offers up entertainment of a different sort, transforming into a water and light show.
Since Citygarden displays art in all four seasons, the spray plaza also had to be designed as a year round attraction. In the winter months, the water feature is converted to its alternate mode, where large translucent globes are places over each of the fountain’s nozzles. Although the water is dormant, the LED lights around each jet remain on so they can continue to captivate passerby with illuminated displays. The colorful globes add yet another sculpture to Citygarden and demonstrate that, even when off, a versatile water feature can be beautiful.
Having celebrated its 10 year anniversary, Citygarden is a testament to how an expertly executed urban park can invigorate a city. The 2.9 acre park draws about 1 million visitors annually, although the numbers are never exact because the park is free for all to enjoy. Since its inauguration, Citygarden has resolutely achieved its goal of providing recreational space to the downtown core while setting a new standard for future development in St Louis. It will continue to symbolize the intersection between art, nature, and community in one of America’s historic cities.