City of Chicago, Department of Transportation
Ross Barney Architects; DLK Civic Design, Planners
Collins Engineers, K-Plus Engineering
The Wabash Plaza Vietnam Veterans Memorial is part of a riverfront enhancement program for the Chicago Department of Transportation. Designed with an elegance befitting historic Wacker Drive, the plaza offers year-round visual interest and ties the street level to the riverfront below. The landscape architect collaborated with architects and engineers from Ross Barney Architects, Collins Engineersand K-Plus Engineering through design and construction administration, working from a previous master plan by DLK Architecture.
Consisting of walls, accessible ramps, and stairs leading from the street level, down a promenade to the memorial, the plaza has deep foundations for an urban space. Sweeping lawns create grade transitions, while a steeply tiered amphitheater with grassy treads provide a place to gather. A memorial fountain, timeline and a name wall are complemented by pear trees, bald cypress and lilac trees to bring a showy presence to the river's edge. Lower scale plants include shrub roses, boxwood, anemone, catmint, lily turf and colorful annual flower rotations for flower boxes in hanging baskets. Replacing a former memorial and reflecting pool dedicated by Mayor Jane M. Byrne in 1982, the Vietnam Veteran's memorial also incorporates inscribed stones from the original memorial and a plaque from the Vietnamese Community of Illinois. Mayor Daley dedicated the plaza to the Illinois citizens in all of the Armed Forces who served in the Vietnam War on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005.