Chicago Lakefront

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Lakeshore Drive/ Park Reconfiguration
Status: Unbuilt

The current use of parks within our cities is complex and varied.  We expect the park to provide an escape from the congestion of city streets and side walks.  At the same time the park must allow a place for activities ranging in size and speed.  The park must be a place for solitary napping or reading and accommodate a huge group of concert-goers.  It must allow car access and parking while pedestrians and cyclists roam free.  It is a place for free form events like barbeques and jam sessions, as well as organized sports of all kinds.  The park may hold museums, restaurants, ballrooms or theatres.  And in the case of Chicago’s lakefront, it holds all of these things while allowing high speed traffic and water craft of all kinds to pass through and around it.

The park at Chicago’s lakefront adds another level of complexity to the proposal.  The strong grid organization of the city runs for miles until it is stopped short at the lake edge, while the expanse of the lake laps away at the edge of the city, attempting to erode it and replace it in a timeless cycle.

The edge between these two powerful expanses is the most compelling experience in the city.  The city towers and its greatest institutions huddle around this edge, contributing to and benefiting from its energy.  However, the current lake front parks squeeze in between these two forces and somehow resist the characteristics of each.

Our proposal extends the city and lake, park and all it contains into a new woven composite.  The process of weaving the paths, land, activities and events may occur endlessly.  Nothing can dominate, all are included.  The weaving can accommodate any speed, size or type of activity.  The entire fabric is affected by an addition or subtraction from it, but all elements still retain an identity within it.