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Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts Helps Catalyze the Revival of Grand Center, St. Louis's District for Art, Entertainment and Education
October 1, 2001

St. Louis, MO – When the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts celebrates its long-awaited opening in October 2001, the event will also highlight a new era for the urban landscape of St. Louis. The PFA’s building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando—his first structure in the United States intended for public use—has been conceived from its inception to aid in the revitalization of Grand Center, St. Louis’s district for art, entertainment and education.

According to John C. Danforth—former U.S. Senator, Partner in Bryan Cave LLP and President of St. Louis, 2004—"The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is an extraordinary addition to the region and its cultural offerings. It carries forth the tradition of a city that had the boldness and creativity to erect Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch. In Ando’s new building for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, we can be proud of the St. Louis workmanship, principally cast-in-place, finely finished concrete. This architectural work and the wonderful art collection contained within it express the best of the energetic and imaginative spirit of St. Louis."

Located only a ten-minute drive from St. Louis's downtown, Grand Center was the city’s "Great White Way" in the 1920s and '30s, boasting more than a dozen glittering theaters and movie palaces, along with restaurants, specialty shops and major office buildings. But beginning in the 1950s, stores closed, offices were vacated, theaters went dark and Grand Center became a symbol of decay in the very heart of the city.

Now, thanks to a variety of private and public initiatives and the efforts of Grand Center, Inc., this central part of St. Louis’s history and urban fabric is returning to life. As the newest attraction in Grand Center, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts joins in the ongoing revival of this once-neglected 10-block area.

Grand Center today boasts Powell Symphony Hall (home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra), The Sheldon (a 700-seat concert hall with extraordinary acoustics), the Fox Theater (a refurbished Byzantine-Baroque movie palace that hosts touring productions, concerts and family shows) and the Grandel Theatre (home of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, St. Louis Shakespeare Company and Grandel Theatre Cabaret). Grand Center is also the base of operations for a wide variety of arts organizations—ranging from Dance St. Louis to River Styx literary magazine—and for KETC/Channel 9, St. Louis’s public television station.

The Forum for Contemporary Art, St. Louis's internationally recognized exhibition center, will begin construction on its new Grand Center home just before the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts opens its doors to the public. The Forum's new 20,000 square foot facility, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works, Portland, Oregon, is located on a site directly adjacent to, and sharing a courtyard with, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The Forum’s programs provide rich opportunities for collaboration between the two institutions. "Grand Center is proud to welcome new architecture to this historic city district," says Vince Schoemehl, President of Grand Center, Inc. "We look forward to the creative energy these two organizations bring to the cultural fabric of the area."

In the early 1990s, Emily Rauh Pulitzer and her late husband Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., founders of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, selected Grand Center as the location for their project in order to participate in the renaissance of this historic district. The choice of site has contributed to the formation of the Foundation both architecturally and conceptually. "From the veritable fine arts encyclopedia of the Metropolitan Museum in the heart of Manhattan to the remote West Texas aesthetic oasis of Marfa, where a unique artistic statement in time and place has been perpetuated by the Chinati Foundation, no country offers a wider range of choice," says James N. Wood, Director and President of The Art Institute of Chicago and a PFA Board Member. "The Pulitzer Foundation will offer a unique environment to further this experience, cloistered in contrast to that of the Metropolitan Museum, and intensely urban in contrast to that of the Chinati Foundation."

By choosing Tadao Ando as architect for the project, the Pulitzers hoped to create a building of architectural distinction in the heart of St. Louis. Emily Pulitzer says, "The building exceeds our original vision, particularly through the subtlety of the light and the drama of the natural elements as they interact with the precisely defined spaces of the interior and exterior.”
Commenting on the realization of the PFA, Tadao Ando says, "I would like to think of this as the creation of a 'place of possibility' or a 'place of mutual discovery.' I see it as the creation of a space to inspire visitors and even expand their consciousness. I want to create a very stimulating place, where works of art are not exhibited merely as specimens but also speak to us as living things."

Following the inaugural celebration in October, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts will be open to the public by prior appointment, Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make an appointment for individual viewing, members of the public may phone 314-754-1848. For information on group visits, phone 314-535-0770. For further information about the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, contact www.pulitzerarts.org.

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