Department of Planning and Development, Chicago Department of Transportation
One of the results of the City of Chicago’s “Chicago River Corridor Development Plan” was the identification of six potential parks and open space sites in the downtown area. One of these is the Erie Street right-of-way where the street dead-ends at the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. developed a concept plan and preliminary budget for this site, the location of a former bridge across the river. The firm was subsequently charged with developing a final design and construction documents for the project. The park concept takes advantage of the site’s grade changes, which are relatively unusual for Chicago. The lower level, furnished with benches and an ornamental railing, has been developed to accommodate a water taxi stop. The middle level, furnished with benches, lighting, planters, and landscaping, has been designed in the short-term as a small plaza, and in the long-term will accommodate the proposed multi-use riverwalk trail on the east bank of the North Branch of the Chicago River. The upper level, at the elevation of the existing street, some 15 feet above the dock level, has been developed with a terrace, steps, lighting, planters, and landscaping. The terrace accommodates the seasonal outdoor dining of the adjacent Erie Street Cafe, which provides the site with another stakeholder with an interest in the safety, appearance, and maintenance of the project.
The project budget was approximately $1,200,000. Design, documentation, bidding and award, and construction were completed in 1998. The project received an Honor Award from the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1999.