Chicago Skateboarders May Go Underground — Or At Least Below Grade

Grant Park Skate Park proposal #1.  Courtesy of the grant Park Conservancy.

Grant Park Skate Park proposal #1. Courtesy of the grant Park Conservancy.

For the last few years we’ve been listening to the Grant Park Conservancy (friends of the blog) ever-so-politely lament that something needs to be done with the southern extremity of the park. =From its web site:

The south entrance to Grant Park and the Museum Campus is as important as the north entrance, which is enhanced by the restored classical peristyle in Millennium Park. The South entrance should be as dramatic as the north gateway with landscaping, lighting, and improved infrastructure along with development of the south end of the park for neighborhood use to serve the burgeoning South Loop community.
Proposed Grant Park Skate Park location.  Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

Proposed Grant Park Skate Park location. Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

At the turn of the century the north side got Millennium Park with its world-famous bean sculpture. By some counts, it’s the second-biggest tourist attraction in the Midwest. The southern part of the park got… well, to be honest a very strange collection of sculptures. Let’s face it, unless you married into the Addams Family, you’re not taking wedding photos in front of Agora.

Then the northern part got Maggie Daley Park, soon to be a world class multi-function modern park with cafes, a skating ribbon, and cutting-edge amenities. The southern portion got… a new train station and a dog run.

Proposed Grant Park Skate Park location.  Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

Proposed Grant Park Skate Park location. Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

Now the southern portion is going to get its due with an up-to-date skate park, an entertainment venue, and some nice “placemaking” opportunities.

Chicago landscape architecture company Altamanu has put together three proposals for the dead space south of the 11th Street pedestrian bridge, and immediately west of the McCormick Place Busway that runs parallel to the Metra Electric District tracks. In a way, it’s like enlarging Grant Park because this area is currently fenced off and below grade, so it’s inaccessible and inhospitable to visitors.

Central to all three of Altamanu’s ideas are a large skate park and some kind of outdoor performance space. Grant Park has had a “temporary” skate park for the better part of a decade at Ninth Street and Columbus Drive. This new facility would be much larger, and permanent.

Burnham Skatepark, Wilson Skatepark, and the Grant Park Skate Plaza superimposed on the project site for size comparison.  Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

Burnham Skatepark, Wilson Skatepark, and the Grant Park Skate Plaza superimposed on the project site for size comparison. Courtesy of the Grant Park Conservancy.

You are probably already familiar with Altamanu’s work. It played a role in the master plan for Lincoln Park, and has done a number of small parks in Oak Park. In the city, it was responsible for Connors Park in the Gold Coast, but might want to remove that boast from its web site since Connors Park has since been completely redeveloped because it was overrun with vagrants, and underused by the neighborhood.

You can look at all three of the proposals for the new Grant Park skate park and performance areas below, and the sketches of what it might look like. These are still early plans, but it is hoped that construction can begin as soon as next year.

Proposal #1

Proposal #2

 

Proposal #3

Editor

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Do you have a preference for any of the three options? I like the patterns in 1. The squiggles in 2 are rad too. 3 looks like a compromise.

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    • Editor

      I don’t have a preference yet. I need to see a lot more of it. So far none of the drawings seem to stand out. But it’s early days still, and there will likely be plenty of revisions coming. If there’s one thing you can count on the Grant Park Conservancy for it’s gathering tons of public input.

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  2. I’m not sure I like it. The Roosevelt RL stop already attracts a lot of riffraff and doesn’t feel safe after dark, I’m not sure making it the closest public transit stop to a skate park is the best idea. It’s already one of the crime hotspots for the South Loop area (from Roosevelt to Congress on State).

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