Praised for its use of sustainable materials and energy-saving features, the recently renovated Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis has just been awarded LEED Gold certification. Currently one of only eleven other LEED-certified National Park Service sites, the newly expanded development is the work of Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates, in collaboration with Trivers Associates, and marks the centerpiece for the renewal of the 91-acre Gateway Arch National Park. The updated 150,000-square-foot building is tucked almost entirely underground and is topped with a 3.1-acre green roof.

interior view of the museum

Opened to the public in July of last year, the Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch is designed to maximize park space and provide improved visitor amenities without drawing attention away from Eero Saarinen’s iconic arch. By tucking the building underground beneath a vegetated roof, the architects not only preserves unobstructed sight lines to the Gateway Arch, but also helps reduce the heat island effect and maximizes the amount of open space. The energy cost savings for the project is estimated to be 24 percent below the baseline while the overall project’s potable water usage is estimated to have been reduced by over 31 percent from the baseline thanks to low-flow water features.

giant arch above the museum

“The National Park service has ambitious sustainability goals that the design team embraced enthusiastically,” Director of Cooper Robertson Scott Newman FAIA says. “In addition to a 3.1-acre extensive green roof, the building features further sustainable and resilient design components such as LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems, and close connections to local public transportation networks. These features bring a high level of efficiency that matches the National Park Service’s ambition. The LEED Gold certification recognizes that commitment and design innovation.”

interior display of the museum

Related: The first Active House in North America is now complete near St. Louis

Other factors that contributed to the project’s LEED Gold certification include the use of regionally extracted and manufactured (within 500 miles) construction materials that were selected based on their recycled content; low-emitting materials were chosen for the interior. Over 80 percent of the construction waste generated was diverted from landfills. Multiple recycling collection points and storage areas are located throughout the building. Water cisterns collect and recycle stormwater on site.

+ Cooper Robertson

+ James Carpenter Design Associates

Images via Gateway Arch Park Foundation

interior display of the museum

interior display of the museum

interior display of the museum

interior view of the museum