Morgan Shoal Framework Plan


2015 Merit Award


Chicago, IL


Chicago Park District



Landscape Architects

Project Details

The Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago have been improving the Lake Michigan shoreline over the last 20 years to reinforce its natural composition and create upgraded amenities for park visitors. One of the last remaining sections is the narrow strip of parkland from 45th Street to 51st Street, called Morgan Shoal. Built in the 1920s, the shoreline is failing and no longer protects Burnham Park and Lake Shore Drive from flooding and erosion. The Morgan Shoal Framework Plan was conceived in order to document site challenges and remedies for this natural occurrence.

The complex issues of shoreline protection, cost considerations, and maintaining and expanding views were important to capture in a short yet comprehensive document that could easily be shared with stakeholders and the general public. Graphically rich, concise information is presented as a piece that the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago may use to examine and evaluate conclusions drawn from an in-depth analysis that readily made use of public input.

A conceptual plan for Morgan Shoal developed in 2003-2004 incorporated feedback gathered from a series of public meetings. Due to the economic downturn in 2007-2008, the project was never constructed. In 2014 the Chicago Park District rebooted the project with public input in mind.

As a result, the Morgan Shoal Framework Plan report was developed to share with the general public and assist in securing funding. While early plans showed land creation out into the lake, overwhelming public input demonstrated that Morgan Shoal was something to be preserved and kept for future generations to explore. Based on input, the new design ideas led to preservation of the shoal, a more passive park experience, and viewing areas along the lakeshore.

One of the area’s most distinct geological features, Morgan Shoal represents a combination of both natural and manmade elements; an environment unique to the region. An offshore bedrock formation emerges from the bottom of Lake Michigan and comes within a few feet of the water’s surface, while remnants of a 1914 shipwreck are strewn about the shoal. Public access, a variety of uses, and stunning views of the skyline will allow Morgan Shoal to become a premier destination for Chicago residents and its many visitors.

Project Team: M3 Engineering; MWH Global; Studio V Design

Parties Involved in Prior Master Plan: Bauer Latoza Studio, MWH Global

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