Serra Sculpture Park

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St. Louis, MO
United States
Serra Sculpture Park

The 1.14-acre downtown park situated on a single city block bound by 10th, 11th, Market, and Chestnut Streets along the Gateway Mall was designed by Richard Serra in collaboration with landscape architect George Dickie of the firm, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK). Dedicated in 1982, the space features Serra’s site-specific sculpture, Twain, intended to be viewed both from the ground and from above.

The work is composed of eight separate, two-inch thick, Cor-Ten steel panels. One slab measures 50 feet long while the remaining seven measure 40 feet long. The long edge of each plate is set into the earth, forming an irregular, four-sided, room-like space. The sculpture appears from above like a warped triangle pointing towards the Gateway Arch. Though the ground that supports the panels gradually slopes toward the southeast, the tops of the steel slabs are uniform with one another. As a result, the northwestern most panel is more exposed than the eastern most one. The former rises nine feet above the ground, whereas the latter extends only five and a half feet.

Each panel is separated by an approximately two-foot gap. Standing inside the sculpture, these door-like apertures frame views of the park’s many trees, as well as the surrounding downtown landscape. The trees, planted to the north and south of Twain, include pin and scarlet oaks, red maples, and sycamores. Serra and Dickie consciously omitted paths, intending visitors to traverse the space freely.