La Villita Park


2016 Merit Award


Chicago, IL


22 acres


Chicago Park District



Landscape Architects

Project Details

La Villita Park is a former industrial site in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. The site was designated a contaminated site after years of roofing material manufacturing on the property. After permitted and regulated capping was performed, the U.S. EPA declared the property suitable for recreation development. The 22-acre site is the largest U.S. EPA Superfund-to-park conversion in a major American city.

SmithGroupJJR was retained by the Chicago Park District to plan and design the new La Villita park, with the neighborhood and community playing an active role in the programming and planning of it. The property was acquired by the Chicago Park District with a 2’ thick gravel cap over the entire acreage.
SmithGroupJJR was tasked with transforming the gravel desert into a recreation and open space oasis while maintaining compliance with strict U.S. EPA requirements.

The activities desired by the community included two artificial turf soccer fields, three natural grass athletic fields, a playground and splash pad, skate park, two basketball courts, trails, community gardens, informal open space, trees, and natural landscaping. The resulting design is organized around a central axis, called the Paseo. This inviting promenade traverses the entire park from north to south and includes benches, lighting and canopy trees. The Paseo is used to access the many recreation activities included in the park.

Project Team

Architrave, Ltd.; HBM Engineering Group, LLC; Jose DeAvila and Associates; Friedler Construction, Dirt-n-Turf Consulting, Inc.; Terracon Consultants, Inc.

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