flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Museum at the Gateway Arch: Subterranean sensation

Reconstruction Awards

Museum at the Gateway Arch: Subterranean sensation

The project team used its creativity to overcome floods and other obstacles to construction.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | November 14, 2019
The museum's west entrance

The west entrance of the museum is laid onto the landscape and inserted into the topography. All photos: Paul Colletti Photography/©IMEG Corp

Located at the base of the Gateway Arch, this underground museum explores seminal events in American history, such as the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. The 46,000-sf addition and 100,000-sf renovation represented the facility’s first reconstruction work since the Museum of Westward Expansion opened in 1976.

The project team had to work mostly below ground and within the National Register–listed landscape. The Mississippi River flooded twice during construction.

The team traveled to Germany to review and approve the glass fabricator’s mockup of the canopy enclosure system for the new 2,000-sf west entrance. A reinforced cast-in-place post-tensioned concrete lid beam and slab system spans 80 feet over the museum addition.

Alper Audi and McCarthy Building Companies co-developed a concrete mockup with sensors that enabled the team to make sure that temperatures achieved during curing were within recommended tolerances for the 2,400 cubic yards of concrete that were used.


The mezzanineThe mezzanine features a giant map of North America where visitors can walk the path of explorers Lewis and Clark.


The project team routed ductwork and piping through a mechanical tunnel from the existing mechanical room to and through the exhibit level, up a vertical cast-in-place concrete chase in the mezzanine, and across an underground duct system at entry level.

MEP systems were overhauled and reconfigured, resulting in the removal of 11 of 15 heating units and adding new systems inside ground-level mechanical rooms for easier maintenance.



BUILDING TEAM IMEG Corp. (submitting firm, ME, telecommunications engineer) National Park Service, Gateway Arch Park Foundation (owners) Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (architect for City Arch River Initiative) Cooper Robertson (museum design architect) James Carpenter Design Associates, Trivers Associates (associate architects) Alper Audi (SE) KAI (PE) Castle Contracting (earthwork/utilities contractor) David Mason + Associates (CE) National Park Service Denver Service Center (PM) Eckersley O’Callaghan (façade engineer) Haley Sharpe Design (exhibit designer) Shen Milsom & Wilke (A/V) Tillotson Design Associates (lighting) Jaffe Holden (acoustics) Alpha Corporation (CM) McCarthy Building Companies (GC) DETAILS 146,000 sf Total cost $176.4 million Construction time April 2015 to June 2018 Delivery method Design-bid-build

Related Stories

Government Buildings | Jan 9, 2023

Blackstone, Starwood among real estate giants urging President Biden to repurpose unused federal office space for housing

The Real Estate Roundtable, a group including major real estate firms such as Brookfield Properties, Blackstone, Empire State Realty Trust, Starwood Capital, as well as multiple major banks and CRE professional organizations, recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden on the implications of remote work within the federal government.

Giants 400 | Aug 11, 2021

BD+C Awards Programs

Entry information and past winners for Building Design+Construction's two major awards programs: 40 Under 40 and Giants 400

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

Call for entries: 2021 Reconstruction Awards

The 2021 Reconstruction Awards recognize the best reconstructed, renovated, or remodeled projects, based on overall design, engineering, and construction project quality. Entries are due July 16, 2021. 

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

2021 Reconstruction Awards Entry Information

Only projects completed or occupied between January 1, 2020 and July 16, 2021 are eligible.

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

2021 Reconstruction Awards 'How to Win' Tip Sheet

Keep this tip sheet handy when preparing your Reconstruction Awards entry, as these are some items on which your project will be judged.

Reconstruction Awards | Feb 5, 2021

The historic Maryland Theatre is reborn in Hagerstown

The Maryland Theatre project has won a Bronze Award in BD+C's 2020 Reconstruction Awards.

Reconstruction Awards | Jan 30, 2021

Repositioning of historic Sears Roebuck warehouse enlivens Boston’s Fenway neighborhood

Developer Samuels & Associates asked Elkus Manfredi Architects to reimagine the former Sears Roebuck & Co. warehouse in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood as a dynamic mixed-use destination that complements the high-energy Fenway neighborhood while honoring the building’s historical significance.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

Giants 400

BD+C Awards Programs

Entry information and past winners for Building Design+Construction's two major awards programs: 40 Under 40 and Giants 400

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021