Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Framing" the South End of Grant Park

An opinion piece on the Chicago Architectural Journal (a ChicagoNow blog) has a pro-building post on the recent announced plans for gigantic high-rises in the Sloop.  While there isn't much new information, we did appreciate a paragraph that equates these developments to ones in NYC that helped "frame" central park:
It is true that One Museum Park (Pappageorge Haymes Partners, 2009), a 62-story, 726-foot tall skyscraper, and its neighbor to the west, The Grant (Pappageorge Haymes Partners, 2010), a 54-story, 595-foot tall tower, are more recent exceptions. These two condominium buildings were indeed controversial in their very beginnings due to their designs, heights, and expected increase in density. But today, these towers seem to have acclimated to their locations quite nicely, and it would be difficult to imagine the south edge of Grant Park without them; they provide not only housing, but a needed termination wall that helps to define the south edge of Grant Park. These skyscrapers were just a start and were valiant attempts at reinvigorating the South Loop and giving a sorely-needed edge condition—visual termination or containment wall—to Grant Park’s southern expanse. More height and additional urban/park-edge-defining is needed. Hopefully, more intelligent planning will surface to competently complete the south—visual termination—wall for Grant Park; this giant green expanse deserves better than frittering itself away into the architecturally ragtag neighborhoods that currently gird its southwestern edge. Walls of tall buildings can do this, and do this very well; after all, a number of empty lots will be infilled! Recall Manhattan’s Central Park, and for a closer example, look to the manner in which Chicago’s Grant Park is defined to its north and northwestern boundaries. Grant is an urban park, it is not a primeval forest.

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