The fun parts of big civic architectural projects are getting to see the finalists’ renderings, then learning who won the commission and getting to take a look at what they have planned, and then actually getting to go inside the finished building or walk around the park or whatever the project happens to be. The painful part is where the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial has just found itself in: talking about how much it’s going to cost and what it’s going to take to construct it. The project, you might recall, involves a major overhaul of the area surrounding St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch, with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh landing the job to make it a more inviting environment. This past week, a public meeting was held to discuss the project, at that time announcing that it wasn’t going to cost the previously estimated $300 million, but would likely wind up costing closer to $600 million. While the nearly doubled expense before ground has even been broken doesn’t seem to have terribly rattled anyone — it hasn’t been released as to how much is coming from private funds, local government, the National Park Service, etc., so that probably helps. And who wants to think about expense when the most exciting news of the meeting was that gondolas are planned to ferry visitors across the Mississippi River to both sides of the planned park. Gondolas! More specifics about the project, released at last week’s meeting, can be found here.