Day 203/365 of Steel – The Gateway Arch

Eero Saarinen’s great triumph.

The Gateway Arch completed on 28 October 1965

The Gateway Arch is a 192 m monument in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a weighted catenary arch, it is the world’s tallest arch. The Arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen; construction began on February 12, 1963, and was completed on October 28, 1965, The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.

The Gateway Arch
Fig 1: The Gateway Arch
Photo: Bev Sykes

Built to commemorate the westward expansion of the United States, the Gateway Arch became a futuristic marker that rose above the cityscape of St. Louis. In its design, this monument drew from previous symbolic constructs of similar aspiration, scale and mathematical precision.

The Getaway Arch During Construction, June 1965
Fig 2: The Getaway Arch During Construction, June 1965
Photo: Kevin William Kelly

The catenary, an ideal form that exists largely in compression, was the starting point for Saarinen’s design. Sweeping a triangular section of variable size along this curve was the basis for its form.

The Getaway Arch
Fig 3: The Getaway Arch
Photo: Daniel Schwen

The arch is comprised of steel-clad concrete triangular sections that vary in form . It varies in thickness from 54ft (bottom), to 17ft (top). The stainless steel plates are assembled tightly against each other in order to increase its structural stability and also to increase its aesthetics—making it look even more slender than it is.

ateway Arch Tram Car
Fig 4: Gateway Arch Tram Car
Photo: Robert Lawton

A complex system of elevator cars that climb diagonally to the top of the curved arch carry 12 people at a time to the top where visitors can view the surrounding landscape from 630 feet above the ground.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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