Hadiya Pendleton Park


2016 Merit Award


Chicago, IL


2.13 acres


Chicago Park District



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Hadiya Pendleton was an honor student at King College Prep High School and was only sixteen years old when her life was taken from her in senseless act of violence. She had a promising future and was going about everyday life, sitting under a shelter near Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when Hadiya and her friends came under fire by gang members who had mistakenly viewed them as rivals. Hadiya had performed as a drum majorette in President Obama’s second inauguration only a few weeks previous to this unfortunate event. Hadiya’s murder has brought national attention to the widespread gun violence facing communities throughout America. Hadiya Pendleton Park is considered a fitting tribute to a Chicago youth that lost her life. The park’s location in the Bronzeville neighborhood was originally the home of Buckthorn Park, a quarter-acre park with a playground and basketball court in disrepair. The Chicago Park District acquired several vacant lots on both sides of Calumet and secured a street closure from the Chicago Department of Transportation to enlarge the park to both sides of the street. Their vision was to turn the park into a neighborhood showpiece paying tribute to the parks namesake.

From the late 1920’s to 1950 Bronzeville was the hub of African-American culture. The community was home to prominent musical artists as well as intellectuals such as sociologists, activists, authors, and poets. The community fell into decline as upper and middle class families left, following the end of racial housing restrictions. Recent years have seen many renovations and improvements in the community.

Hired in 2014, Planning Resources Inc. developed a design plan that paid tribute to Hadiya Pendleton while also incorporating the cultural significance of the neighborhood. In April of 2015, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners officially renamed Buckthorn Park in honor of Hadiya Pendleton. The new neighborhood park features a brightly colored, non-traditional, and accessible creative play area, an interactive splash pad, a walking path, an outdoor amphitheater for community events, and fitness stations that are placed strategically throughout the site. To embrace the neighborhood, Planning Resources Inc. designed custom sculptural seating and a musical staff themed central walk around undulating berms and provides a pedestrian connection along the inaccessible Calument Avenue. Curved, waving concrete walls call back to the fluid design of the park while a decorative inlay is inscribed with one of Hadiya’s favorite quotes, “Smile! It makes your heart think you are happy!” The custom book-themed memorial honors the Bronzeville literary heroes and anchors a bronze dedication plaque. In addition to honoring the neighborhood’s heritage, the themes reflect Hadiya’s love of music and books.

Project Team

Terra Engineering, Ltd.; Larson Engineering; EDI; Clauss Brothers

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