Maggie Daley Park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Its design is based upon the following design principals:
- Blend programmatic ambitions
- Choreograph a complex landscape that offers experiential range
- Unify the site with constructed topography and vegetation
- Increase comfort through mitigation of noise, wind, and sun
- Create accessible and accommodating paths
Public feedback provided important input into the design principles and programming ambitions for what was formerly North Grant Park, now Maggie Daley Park. Several different means of soliciting public opinions were utilized during the design process, including public meetings, focus groups and a survey. Public meetings were held in several locations and at different times in the design process to discuss ideas and opinions of park users. The meetings were followed by focus groups which were held to encourage more intimate discussions with stakeholder groups. The park programming survey, linked to the project website, resulted in nearly 1,500 responses which included ideas regarding programming and other comments about the project.
The redesign of North Grant Park has affected the combined territory of Daley Bicentennial Plaza and Peanut Park, with the Cancer Survivors’ Garden remaining intact in its present location. While each of these spaces remains distinct from the others with respect to experience and programming, the new design improves landscape continuity among the three elements and provides a broader range of activities and spaces, which in turn provide a better complement to the layout of the Cancer Survivors’ Garden.
Curvilinear pathways that respond to varied topography and views, allow visitors to experience a series of landscape episodes that evolve as they walk through the park. Plants have been selected for seasonal attributes, such as color and texture that are legible across the park. An unfolding diagonal valley running northeast to southwest traverses the former Daley Bicentennial site while making a strong connection to the landing point of the BP Bridge. The introduction of rolling topography created an opportunity for improved views of the lake and back to the city, multiple activities occurring at the same time, and a greater landscape range. A green veil of trees and shrubs subtly reinforce the edges of the valley while elevated landforms at the park perimeter physically and acoustically separate the park spaces from the busy roadways beyond.
To create a broad range of experiences, the park is based upon two axis’: the park axis and the play axis.
The landscape spaces encountered along the Park Axis vary in character, scale, and seasonal attributes creating a scenographic progression that unfolds in space and time. As visitors follow major pathways through and around the park, they will be introduced to a range of multi-sensory landscape experiences, all of which are interspersed with views of the lake, the city, and the rest of Grant Park. Through these landscape episodes, the park experience will provide the kind of range and variety that will attract visitors year-round. The continuous landscape valley running from the northeast to the southwest will expand and enhance the daily use value of Maggie Daley Park for its residential neighbors, providing an exciting and comfortable environment.
The Play Axis offers a diverse range of recreational programming. Connected to Millennium Park by the BP Bridge, the ice-skating ribbon is dramatically different from typical civic ice rinks, offering an experientially rich multi-sensory activity that is integrated into the landscape, and into the city. Located within a grove of evergreen trees, the setting for the ice ribbon creates an illusion of a serene forest setting. At the same time, the sparkling backdrop of the skyline illustrates Chicago’s unique glamour. In the summer, the paved surface of the ribbon can host multiple different types of activities, including balance bikes and scooters within the same engaging landscape setting. The major climbing facility located in the center of the ribbon expands the social uses of this area of the park.
Also located on the Play Axis is the Play Garden. The anchor of the southeastern quadrant of the park, this space includes a northern entry and western entry. Once inside, children of multiple age groups will find diverse opportunities for fun, adventure, exploration, and learning. Defined in terms of topography and planting, the Play Garden contains different zones and a mix of active and imaginative play. Multifunctional elements like the wave lawn and play pathways will complement equipment-based play. The plants in the Play Garden will intentionally be different from normal park settings, capturing the imagination and engaging different senses in multiple seasons of the year.
To see design drawings and learn more about the park design, visit http://www.mvvainc.com/project.php?id=61&c=parks