The linear, rectangular pool comprising the water court of the Tadao Ando designed museum in St. Louis’ Grand Center Arts District reflects not just the concrete, canyon-like walls of the building itself, but the tops of the trees planted in the bordering irregularly shaped lot. Early in the 21st century, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation transformed the space from a vacant lot into a small park replete with plantings of chinkapin oak, green ash, honey locust, and redbud.
Years later, the foundation similarly looked towards landscape design to transform an adjacent underutilized vacant lot into a multifunctional one. Park-Like, designed and built by Chris Carl, the founder of Studio Land Arts, occupies an approximately 0.6-acre rectangular lot directly across from the museum on Washington Avenue. With its dense, naturalistic plantings of both native and non-native species, the space functions as a rain garden, capturing and storing runoff from the adjoining property. Park-Like owes much of its appearance and form to the discoveries made during its construction. While excavating the site, myriad artifacts were unearthed including brick, stone, and even a piece of Corinthian capital. These architectural elements were all incorporated into the site: the stone was utilized as piles of riprap; the brick was bound by gabion baskets and used as benches; and the capital was displayed as a decorative piece. The construction process also influenced the site’s path layout. Carl noted the meandering paths formed by the construction equipment and machines, and ultimately revised the plan to recall these movements.
Ravaged by a fire in 2001, a roofless stone shell of a former church stands northwest of Park-Like on the same block. In 2022 the foundation completed improvements of the structure, dubbed Spring Church, and with Studio Land Arts transforming an adjacent lot into a green space.