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

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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