Fullerton Theater on the Lake Shoreline Protection Project


2016 Merit Award


Chicago, IL


8 acres


Chicago Department of Transportation



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Chicago’s historic, deteriorating Lake Michigan shoreline revetments, built between 1911 and 1931, are made of wood pile cribs filled with stones. Due to flooding and proximity to Lake Shore Drive, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether Federal assistance be provided to protect the shoreline. In 1996, Congress authorized funds for eight miles of reconstructed shoreline, from Montrose Avenue to the South Water Purification Plant. With $31.5 million coming from Federal, State and local sources, the shoreline area of Fullerton Avenue, “Reach 2F,” was designated for flood prevention. At Fullerton Avenue, there was the opportunity and desire to do more than the minimum revetment design seen elsewhere along the lake to expand lakefront amenities and ease congestion at the junction of Lake Shore Drive, Fullerton Avenue, and the Lakefront Trail where merging cars, beach-goers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and theatergoers had made it congested and hazardous.

To prevent and control flooding of Lake Shore Drive and the Fullerton viaduct, the massive project required something not done since the completion of Lincoln Park – landfilling the lake. The outcome was to increase recreation space with 5.8 acres of parkland in the area from the existing park’s south edge to the first groin. Jacobs/Ryan Associates. with construction administration assistance from site as subconsultant to RM Chin & Associates worked with engineers over several years to develop a plan to integrate protection and drainage gaps into the fabric of the park. During the planning phase, the firm produced many hand drawn graphics to illustrate the engineering landscape concepts proposed. Those plans and sketches were presented, accepted by numerous agencies, through community meetings, and were published in the media. Existing trees and stones were cataloged for reuse. The scope of improvements included the Lakefront Trail re-route, universally accessible walks, a new vehicular drop-off for the Theater on the Lake, and a multi-function permeable loading access area and patio. The park also received a refurbished drinking fountain, historic sculpture, and a new entry monument for the theater.

Project Team

Chicago Park District; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; AECOM Technical Services, Inc.; R.M. Chin & Associates; Walsh Construction; Christy Webber Landscapes; GeoServices, Inc.

Parties Involved in Prior Master Plan:

AECOM; Jacobs/Ryan Associates; Chicago Park District; Lincoln Park Steering Committee

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