St. Louis Architect Wants Public Art for Public Health

Midwest
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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The "Space-Time Transformation Footbridge"  is coated with a photovoltaic film to generate electricity to power shape changes and light the bridge at night. (Michael Jantzen)

The “Space-Time Transformation Footbridge” is coated with a photovoltaic film to generate electricity to power shape changes and light the bridge at night. (Michael Jantzen)

One St. Louis architect thinks his city’s public art needs a shot in the arm. Michael Jantzen says public art should further public health, and his work—interactive designs replete with solar film and meant to encourage exercise—shows how.

Not that the Gateway Arch has lost its luster—the Eero Saarinen landmark stills makes millions of dollars in tourist revenue each year and is the subject of a $380 million redesign—but as Jantzen told the Daily Riverfront Times, its value is largely aesthetic:

The whole purpose of the Arch was to generate tourism, which it did very successfully here, to say the least … A lot of architecture and art projects that are being built and have been built, their prime function is to get people to come to the city and look at them—not unlike the Arch.

Jantzen, who moved to St. Louis from Carlyle, Illinois to attend Washington University, has a few ideas for public art that break the mold. His projects include a glass and steel bridge that changes shape according to its users and a massive waterwheel meant to harvest the energy of the Mississippi River’s current.

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