The greening of Chicago’s core continues, but not at the hands of the city’s Park District. Instead many of Chicago’s newest parks come through the work of private firms building skyscrapers, and the parks are tacked on as revenue drivers, or out of political necessity.
The latest park to land in downtown is Bennett Park, in the core of Streeterville. Previously this park was a park. But not a very good park. It did an adequate job of concealing the parking garage lurking in its nether-regions, but the topside experience was less than satisfying.
When Related Midwest put up the 70-story One Bennett Park residential tower and Lake Michigan lighthouse next door, it brought in Brooklyn’s Michael Van Valkenburg Associates to redesign the park space and compliment its skyscraper, which also bears a Gotham pedigree. But don’t hold that against them. The park and the building are both named for Edward Bennett, who co-wrote Chicago’s Burnham Plan in 1909, spelling out how Chicago would look for the next 110 years.
Word on the scene is that this mean green is keen. Its 1.7 acres include a traditional lawn area, two dog runs, a miniature grove of trees that will be awesome when they mature, and a playground fit for Prince George.
We’ve shown you pictures of the construction of that playground in the past, and it’s the sort of thing that makes you wish you were in short pants and curls again. We’re talking swings, slides, spans, sand, and all kinds of things to climb on and fall off. It’s a Band-Aid salesman’s dream come true, and a return to a proper state of affairs where children lean lessons through play, instead of being swaddled in bubble wrap to protect them from life, rendering them unable to function 15 years later when the office Keurig machine goes on the fritz.