2015 Honor Award
Chicago Park District
Transformed from a vacant lot to an engaging public space for neighboring high-rise residents and Chicago skate fans alike, the southern edge of Grant Park is now bustling with visitors to the greenspace, skate park, performance space, and sculpture park. The Chicago Park District and the Grant Park Conservancy approached Altamanu to develop this underutilized area into a multi-use wheel-friendly area and space for small performances and outdoor exhibitions.
The plan utilizes the site’s grade changes to create a series of levels for different uses and special events. A spiraling path and curved tiered performance space work with the existing topography to enable easy staging and setup for temporary events and performances.
A plaza divides the performance space from the skate park proper and creates an intermediate level between the stage and the skate park. The skate park is located at the lower level of the rail lines, allowing spectators views into the space from new overlooks and the 11th Street Bridge to the north. Passing pedestrians, parents, and children often peer into the park with excitement and awe.
The skate park area features platforms and elements that appear as uncovered remnants of the Central Station building. The linear nature of the skate plaza not only responds to the desires voiced by the wheeled users during the public process, but evokes the site’s rail line history. Long linear strips of colored concrete and the linear overlook and promenade are representative of the long trains once occupying the space. Central elongated platforms and stair sets are directly influenced by historic photos of the central platform. The design also introduces raised planting beds, shade trees, and a central drainage swale to capture stormwater runoff for bioinfiltration.
The space has already been host to several nationwide skate competitions and tours. The Park District plans to utilize it for other events as well, perhaps in conjunction with Lollapalooza or local universities such as the nearby Columbia College Chicago. The attached performance space on the south side of the skate park allows additional flexibility in how shared-use events can be programmed on-site.
Project Team: Civiltech Engineering, Inc.; Michael Roebke, Skate Park Consultant