Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Location: Wilmington, Illinois
Program: Park Revitalization/ Restoration
Status: Unbuilt

Traditionally the name Midewin is derived from the term for the grand medicine society of the Indians of the Great Lakes Region. Perhaps it is proper that we now have an opportunity to heal the land that we have neglected in the past. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie faces two tasks; to rid itself of the derelict structures and foreign plants that currently occupy the site, and, to restore the tallgrass prairie while providing the public with an interesting place to explore and learn. Our proposal is to make these two tasks into one by using material from existing structures and invasive species to build a lasting place for the people, unify the land that Midewin oversees into a cohesive whole, and provide new places for people to experience and interact in a positive way with the tallgrass prairie.  The Design Competition Consisted of two separate sites;

The Design Concept for the Iron Bridge Facility explores the relationship of man to the prairie and the re-use of materials left by man. The artifacts leftover when the U.S. Army vacated the site provides an opportunity for visitors to see what happened here as well as furnish an abundance of reusable building materials.  Re-use happens in multiple ways by converting the old, concrete storage bunkers into learning venues (i.e.  public contact station, classroom, and interpretive outlook) and by reusing materials from demolished vacant buildings and applying them in a unique way to create and unforgettable visitor experience.

The Design Concept for the River Road facility explores the relationship of healing and restoration by offering unique perspectives of the prairie both above and below ground.  Constructed with lumber from reclaimed invasive tree species on the site, the overlook and windmill offer a panoramic view, demonstrating the depth and variety of native Prairie Plants at Midewin seed beds.  A burrowing at the ground plane and use of excavated materials for construction will create a prairie level experience as the participants inside the outdoor classroom view the seed bed plants from the ground up.