Latoza Studio; The Last Four Miles Design Team
Last Four Miles; Chicago, Illinois
Client: Friends of the Parks
Architect/Design Team: Greene & Proppe Design; Solomon Cordwell Buenz; Topografis
Category: Burnham Award
Chicago's shoreline, stretching from Evanston on the north to the Indiana border on the south, comprises thirty miles of lakefront. Since the City's incorporation, twenty-six of those miles have been developed as a public park system, unrivaled around the world for its beauty and accessibility.
Today, just two stretches-totaling approximately four miles-remain as open links to completing a continuous lakefront experience.
Motivated by the 2009 Burnham Plan of Chicago Centennial, a team of architects and landscape architects began working in 2006 with citizens, park advisory councils, community groups, public officials, and government representatives to envision the completion of Chicago's lakefront-one segment to the north, one to the south.
North Lakefront Planning
For the north lakefront, the team held visioning sessions and design charrettes in the Edgewater and Rogers Park sections of Chicago. In spite of their proximity to the lakefront, these two neighborhoods are considered ‘park poor' with less than two acres of park land per thousand persons. The outcomes of the community sessions envision the Edgewater section with additional open space and parks, and enhanced access to the lakefront. Currently, gaps between these beaches and parks prevent continuous travel along the entire lakefront. The preliminary concept for Rogers Park erases the gaps between the area's beaches and parks to create a continuous park system.
South Lakefront Planning
A community design charrette was held at Calumet Park to envision the south lakefront at the following areas: the gap between the South Shore Cultural Center and Rainbow Beach, the former US Steel plant site, and Iroquois Landing. The south lakefront concept plan includes over 400 acres of new park land with beaches, trails, recreational fields, lagoons, peninsulas, greenways, and nature areas, and enhances connectivity to neighborhoods and bike trails in south Chicago and the Calumet area.
A result of thoughtful planning and community consensus building, the Last Four Miles project creates a plan that is aesthetically unparalleled, technically feasible, and environmentally sustainable. The graphics produced were the collaborative efforts of team members, including the landscape architect and Topografis.