The Gateway Arch (now the Gateway Arch National Park and not just a National Monument!) recently received a $380 million renovation to the interior, infrastructure and grounds. I was quite impressed with the outcome of the whole project, but my favorite part was that they hid the nearby interstate.

I-44 runs through St. Louis and crosses very close to the Arch grounds. Previously, the pedestrian crossing was treacherous, and the magnificent Arch was disconnected from the heart of the city. You can’t really realize the grandeur of the Arch unless you are right next to its imposing size, and thousands of visitors to the Cardinals stadium, convention center, etc. never made it that close. Now, the Arch grounds seamlessly flow into a park that connects with the Old Courthouse (another monument and the site of the Dred Scott trial) and not just allows but invites, people to walk closer. Hooray!

The park renovation could have focused solely on the building and inside elements, but someone wisely dedicated resources to the exterior as well. Take a look around your building. Do you have the equivalent of a functional yet unwieldy crossing? Are you sending mixed signals to your clients that simultaneously indicate welcoming and aloofness? Should you create your own version of a parkway to create cohesion of your overall story? The physical environment around your organization sets the tone and is a legitimate part of your brand story. Don’t focus just on the forest and forget about the trees.

Interstate 44 is directly behind these trees — but you can’t see it or even hear it now

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