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Phone: 312-927-6795

Email: boboneill@grantparkconservancy.com

Grant Park Conservancy

330 South Michigan #1505

Chicago, IL 60604

Grant Park Skate Plaza

 

PROJECTS

 

A 3-acre skate park and adjacent performance space in the southwest corner of Grant Park is a project to draw a younger, more diverse crowd and revitalize the southwest corner of Grant Park. The Skate Plaza is full of ramps, rails and ledges with a focus on “flow” and being “wheel friendly,” with BMXers and roller bladers invited along with skateboarders. The creation process has developed in concert with skateboarders, rollerbladers and BMXers  to maximize the quality of the design. Working with the surrounding community, the Skate Plaza and Performance Space has drawn wide support. The Grant Park Skate Plaza opened on December 6th, 2014.

 

Chopin Garden

 

The Chopin Garden is an effort to create a statue honoring and celebrating Frederic Chopin, one of Poland’s and the world’s most beloved composers. The Chopin Monument will reach 15 feet atop a five-foot pedestal. It would be 5/8 scale bronze replica of a 1907 statue designed by Waclaw Szymanowski’s, which stands in Warsaw’s Royal Baths Park, Poland’s most prestigious park. To activate the monument, there will be spring and summer piano concerts, adding a new activity to attract people to Grant Park.. The Chopin Garden will be located  at 11th street and Michigan Ave providing classical musical programming in South Grant Park. The Chopin Garden will consist of a statue of Chopin, a small stage area and intimate audience seating and be privately financed by the Chicago Chopin Foundation  which is leading the fundraising campaign. 

 

Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park replaces the Daley Bicentennial Plaza creating a continuous park from Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive in North Grant Park. It is designed to create active, interactive spaces along with passive, natural spaces. The park will have a varied landscape design creating a diverse typography of both recreation and relaxation spaces as it balances active recreation. The park will include  elements like a play garden, rock climbing and seasonal ice ribbon with a continuous series of lawns and valleys.  The target demographic is children and families, a  long underserved group of park users. Maggie Daley Park expands the appeal of Grant Park. The park is also a signal of the growing residential population of downtown, especially in Lakeshore East. The $55 million 20-acre park serves as a green roof. Maggie Daley Park opened to the public on December 13th, 2014. 

Trees of Maggie Daley Park

Construction

The construction of Maggie Daley Park required the removal of 877 trees.  The good news is that the new park will be much more interesting and innovative with much more of a nature focus than what is there now.  Also,1000 new trees will be planted, so the new park will enjoy a net gain of trees.  Additionally, 38 trees will remain at Peanut Park, and those at the south end of Daley Bicentennial Plaza, (along Monroe in the Green at Grant Park), will also remain. Many of the trees were at the end of their lives and there was little diversity of species. The ash trees would inevitably have succumbed to the emerald ash borer anyway. Reclaimed wood from 160 trees will be used in the new children's play area.  Many of the trees are already dying and the predominating honey locust,  are not that long-lived. 

 

The new park will be much more interesting and innovative with more of a focus on nature. The much more diverse pallete of nature friendly tree species will help attract wildlife. What was considered  a total loss  of many mature trees with the construction of the new park will actually be very positive because superior stock will replace so many of the existing trees that are in poor shape, dying, diseased, or are of or species that do not live long. All are going to be replaced with much better stock. There will also be an irrigation system to help the trees grow more quickly and remain healthy longer. The Chicago Park District is working diligently to make sure that the new park is not only very nature friendly but a world-class destination.

 

Much of the park will be funded by private sources.

  

Here is break down of the trees:   

 

  • There were a total of 877 trees in the construction site including Peanut Park to the east where the existing Daley Bi soil is being stored.

  • 336 were ornamental trees: crab apple trees and magnolia trees. 

  • 541 were shade trees: honey locust, white ash, elm, Norway maple. 

  • 160 of the mature trees will be reused in the new children's play area.

  • 1000 new trees will be planted in the new Maggie Daley Park. 

  • 40 trees were saved at Peanut Park.  

  • The trees at the small golf course on Monroe were saved.   

 

When Maggie Daley Park is complete in late 2014/early 2015 there will be hundreds of new trees planted, many beautiful amenities (including a world-class children's play area), breathtaking vistas of Lake Michigan and an ice skating ribbon, meadows and natural areas. The new park will honor an esteemed civic leadeer who made countless contributions to the cultural, park, and educational fabric of Chicago. 

 

Maggie Daley Park Plant Tagging Chart (Excel Spreadsheet)

Phase I was the removal of all of the soil and fill and installation of concrete, structural foundations for the new park elements. Soil removal from the existing garage deck and pedestrian tunnels totaled  22,500 cubic yards of topsoil and 82,000 cubic yards of fill material and  are stored at Peanut Park just to the east.  A total soil volume of 104,500 cubic yards have been removed from the garage deck.  

 

Phase II  is putting the park back onto the sealed roof. The waterproofing of the garage roof is finished and was paid for and done by Chicago Loop Parking. Phase II is also returning  the soil geo-foam from the old park, as well as installing new geo-foam, a lot of geo-foam, geofoam from the old park as well as installing new geo-foam.  Geo-foam is a dense type of Styrofoam that  creates hills without creating a lot of weight. Phase II is also installing the ice-skating ribbon piping and the ribbon itself, the climbing wall and play equipment and landscaping.    

 

The park is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2014 with some of the spring landscaping going in the spring of 2015. 

 

Garage 

The new waterproofing system is a very different application from what was installed on the garage roof when the garage was built in the 1970's. The old material was a “loose laid” membrane with a layer of drainage stone above it.  This was a common approach at the time, but there have since been significant technological improvements. With the old technology, there were several seams and the fabric itself did not adhere to the concrete deck. The new waterproofing is a heat-applied, monolithic membrane system that has a series of protection layers and drainage layers above it. The benefit of this system is that the seams are minimal. There are several drainage measures in place to convey water off of the roof before it even comes in contact with the membrane itself.  As a result, the new waterproofing system will enjoy a much longer lifespan than its predecessor.

Lollapalooza

 

With an attendance of 300,000 in 2013, Lollapalooza is one of the largest music festivals in the country and is one of the largest annual events hosted by Grant Park. Chicago’s Front Yard provides an unmatched site for an event where over 130 musicians play on a background of skyscrapers. The festival is known nationally, drawing fans from all over to experience both musical performances and the Grant Park landscape.            

 

Lollapalooza draws top musical performers to come play in Chicago. This cultural event contributes to the broader goal of compelling and recruiting highly skilled talent to come work here. Chicago exists in a competitive environment among cities where high performance professionals are coveted. A key component is the city’s quality of life. Lollapalooza is just one of many events that showcase Chicago at its best.              

 

In just three days the music festival provides over a 100 million dollar boost  to Chicago's local economy. Concert attendees and others associated with the event rent hotel rooms, eat at restaurants and shop at local stores. In 2012, Lollapalooza paid over $4.05 million in local taxes  contributing to the public budget. The Chicago Park District is also a beneficiary. The festival’s promoter, C3 Presents, guarantees a 1.5 million dollar contribution and a percentage of net ticket sales for the Chicago Park District. The money is used to support a wide variety of Chicago Park District programming and capital projects throughout Chicago's communities. C3 Presents has also made a sizable donation to Maggie Daley Park.             

 

C3 Presents has been a responsible partner in making Lollapalooza a success. The Grant Park Conservancy and Chicago Park District have made sure that Lollapalooza restores Grant Park to a "better-than-preconcert condition".  On top of this, the Grant Park Conservancy has worked with Lollapalooza to have it fund the planting of hundreds of new trees and the creation of new gardens in Grant Park. Since the first festival in 2005, C3 Presents has been creating a culture of respect for Grant Park among concert goers.  With the festival as popular as ever, C3 Presents has renewed its contract with the Chicago Park District  to host the event until 2021. Lollapalooza is here to stay.

 

Northerly Island

 

Northerly Island is a 91-acre man-made peninsula and one of the more pristine natural areas along the city's lakefront. With the demolition of Meigs Field Airport in 2003 the location was opened up to new uses. The FirstMerit Bank Pavilion (formerly the Charter One Pavilion) is a semi-permanent music venue that was constructed in 2005. In March 2013, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a three-million dollar plan to expand the venue with the addition of 22,000 lawn seats, bringing total seating to 30,000. The increased revenue from the venue expansion will help fund the Park District’s renovation of about 40 acres of the southern end of Northerly Island into a nature habitat with six interdependent ecosystems. “Finding money for Northerly Island's landscaping has been difficult, and the concert venue could be the perfect generator of those funds,” said Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O’Neill. The project demonstrates that a balance between venue expansion and the advancement of nature and wildlife conservation is not only possible, but also mutually beneficial.

Park-Wide Reforestation Program

 

For the past two decades, the Grant Park Conservancy in partnership with the Chicago Park District initiated a complete reforestation of Grant Park including getting dead and missing trees replaced every spring and fall.This has led to a total reforestation with the planting of over 3,000 new trees just in Grant Park. Although Grant Park is home to the nation's largest remaining stands of the historic American Elm, they continue to be wiped out and impacted by Dutch Elm Disease. This, along with the neglect of the park during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s has led to thousands of trees dying, being neglected and not replaced. With the cooperation and hard work of the Chicago Park District and funding from Lollapalooza the Grant Park Conservancy continues a successful regular urban forest management program.

The Importance of Trees

  • Planting trees is one of the least expensive and most effective ways of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. 

  • A mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of up to 50 pounds per year and release enough oxygen, 260 pounds per year, into the atmosphere to support two human beings. 

  • A mature tree's carbon absorption is equivalent to the amount of carbon exhausted by driving a car 26,000 miles. 

  • They cleanse the air absorbing tons per year of: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter.  

 

  • They relax people and reduce tension thus helping heal sick people and reduce crime. 

  • They provide shade for people walking and biking and look very attractive, thus encouraging people to walk and bike. 

  • They provide habitat and food for birds and other nature. 

  • They prevent soil erosion and rainwater run-off.  

  • They cool buildings by shading them from the hot summer sun and can reduce air conditioning bills by 30%. 
  • ​They reduce heat islands. 

  • They are appreciating assets valued in the thousands of dollars each. 

  • They attract jobs and economic development.   

  • They attract tourists to visit a city. 

  • They increase property values.  

  • They reduce heating bills by sheltering buildings from wind. 

  • They reduce noise pollution. 

  • They can reduce noise and sound by up to 50%

You can measure the fiscal benefit of trees at the National Tree Benefit Calculator 

Roosevelt Road Streetscape And Bike Lanes 

 

There is ongoing planning and coordination with CDOT for the most up-to-date and innovative bike/pedestrian greenway along Roosevelt Road.  CDOT is redesigning Roosevelt Road's sidewalks, bike lanes, and landscaping from State to Columbus to make it far more bike and pedestrian-friendly and a more efficient and safe connection to the CTA's Red, Green and Orange Lines and several buses.  This will also involve more greening and trees and developing more efficient ways of connecting to the Metra Station on the south end of Grant Park.  The City sidewalk on the north side of Roosevelt between Michigan and the tracks will need to be widened into Grant Park.  We are exploring removing a sidewalk a few feet to the North to increase green space.   The greening and bike and pedestrian design is going to make Roosevelt Road an example for other busier streets.  Roosevelt Road needs wider sidewalks and two-way bike lanes.  With the rapidly increasing popularity of the Museum Campus, Northerly Island, Soldier Field and that there is a large CTA Station and other buses, we need to get more people out of cars and onto sidewalks and bike paths.  This will help reduce car congestion, get people out to enjoy the beautiful park and area, help them get more exercise, and lower air pollution. 

Borders

 

Borders is a public sculpture installation by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. It is located in the Solti Garden, to the South of the Art Institute of Chicago along Michigan Avenue. The installation opened in August, 2013 with a reception hosted by the Grant Park Conservancy and sponsored by DePaul University and Errol and Mary Zavett. The project consists of 26 life-sized sculptures of a human-like forms. The figures are positioned  with half the sculptures made of lustrous aluminum, while the other half are of rust stained iron. All the sculptures have a genderless, expressionless and anonymous form being able to speak only through body language. What does this all mean? “I want to leave the interpretation open,” said Thorarinsdottir. The sculptures suggest interaction but the manner of engagement is open to the viewer. The Chicago Park District, Grant Park Conservancy and Bloomberg Foundation, who are hosting the installation, are pleased that the art engages the public and activates the Solti Garden. The sculptures have travelled through New York, Seattle and Dallas receiving critical acclaim.  The Borders installation concluded its stay in Chicago in October 2014.

Grant Bark Park

 

The Grant Bark Park is a 13,000 square foot off leash dog park in the South end of Grant Park. The $300,000 dog park was a partnership between the Chicago Park District, Grant Park Conservancy / Advisory Council and the South Loop Dog PAC. The Grant Park Conservancy was instrumental in locating the dog park in its premier location and helping identify over $225,000 to match the $75,000 raised by the South Loop Dog PAC. The Grant Bark Park adds a new use to Grant Park and responds to the needs of the growing residential South Loop community. Grant Bark Park is situated within the natural beauty and landscaping of Grant Park providing a pleasant social environment for both dogs and their owners. Grant Bark Park opened in July 15, 2006 and enjoys great popularity and continued success thanks to the active involvement by the local community who help keep the park clean, well maintained and welcoming.

The relocated bust of Sir Georg Solti from Lincoln Park to Grant Park provides an opportunity to create a high quality cultural and educational botanic garden performance area in Grant Park.  By locating the bust created by sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink, of the acclaimed conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra near Symphony Center, we envision the opportunity to attract visitors with lunchtime concerts in a memorial garden. We have worked with the Chicago Park District to facilitate this move, as well as with Solti’s widow, Lady Valerie Solti, who has expressed interest and believes it appropriately honors her late husband. The Grant Park Conservancy continues to develop ways to fund the garden.

Sir Georg Solti Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer Survivors Garden 

 

The Cancer Survivors Garden was built in 1996 with a $1 million  gift from cancer survivor Richard A. Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block. The two-and-a-half acre strip of flowers, landscaping and inspirational plaques is located in the northeast corner of Grant Park. It is a place for quiet reflection and serenity for cancer patients, survivors and their families. Yet a garden isn't a one-time expense and has to be kept up, season after season. To keep the Cancer Survivors Garden in its full glory with top notch planting costs about $60,000 for the summer alone. In a time of strapped budgets, such costs are not sustainable and need to be downscaled to a more modest garden. The Chicago Park District will continue to do basic maintenance for the site but little more. The Grant Park Conservancy has mobilized volunteers from Citi and Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park to help maintain the garden and is pursuing private donations to return the Cancer Survivors Garden to its full grandeur.

Logan Monument Landscape Revitalization 

 

The bronze statue of the  John A. Logan Monument  at 9th St. and Michigan Avenue honors the Civil War General and U.S. Senator from Illinois. It was designed by prominent American sculptor August Saint-Gaudens and completed in 1897, standing boldly atop a sloping hill. A six-million dollar gift by an anonymous donor will fund an overhaul around the statue including a new fountain, paved walkways and all new landscaping, upgrading existing benches and additional infrastructure.  With the approval by the Park Enhancement Committee and the Park District, the renovations  will begin shortly with completion expected by the end of 2014.