National Regional Foundations for the Arts and Crafts

Prototype / Saint Louis, Missouri

This project grows out of a personal civic suggestion. It is an effort to define a prototype that gives structure to what would become a National Institution: Regional Foundations for the Arts and Crafts. Each foundation would be a vehicle for the presentation and recording of American ”regional” art works. The boundaries are to be defined by geographic regions and specific cultural communities that define the diversity of our nation and it’s artistic heritage. Each Foundation would become a center for each regions artistic & civic dialogue. The content of the works displayed would be determined by the each Foundation, based on open submission and research grant applicants. The exhibitions would alternate with all previous exhibitions documented and recorded in a public Archive & Library.

The initiatory region would be the Central Plains. Saint Louis is proposed to be the first city, symbolizing the “center” of the country, reinforced by the presence of the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch. A place where, from here, anywhere is possible. The first exhibition would illuminate the Arts and Crafts of the Central Plains Indians.

Each Foundation is composed of a series of fundamental elements that would be composed and reinterpreted based on the qualities of each site. The elements would be:

  • Administration Tower and Entry
  • Gallery
  • Bridge
  • Courtyard with Regionally Specific Natural Elements

The site chosen for the prototypical design is along the Gateway Park that borders the Mississippi River in Saint Louis. Adjacent to the Gateway Arch, it represents the national center for our country. A corner of a blighted city block is given for development. A pedestrian “street” is created between the Administrative and Gallery buildings connecting the street to the open interior of the city block. The Entry to the Foundation is placed along this path. An analogous “river” perimeters the outside edges of the site, beginning at the entry of the Courtyard and terminating at the main entry to the building. A series of long walls further define this exterior space. Contained within these walls is the luminous yellow limestone Gallery. A glass enclosed exhibition space sits under this cantilevered volume. It showcases the current works and activates the courtyard as a room for the city. The stark white Administration Tower provides a civic landmark with a public observation deck to view the river, city and vast horizon in all directions.