Midway Plaisance Master Plan
University of Chicago, Chicago Park District
The Midway Plaisance is an historic landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted after the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Originally intended to connect Washington Park to Jackson Park and Lake Michigan, the Midway had become a divider between the University of Chicago and Hyde Park communities to the north, and the Woodlawn community to the south.
Almost a mile long east to west, it was also perceived to be wide and unsafe in the north/south direction, and therefore acted as a barrier to university staff and students going north and south across the Midway. The single largest existing use is sports, but this use is not balanced by passive uses or other non-athletic improvements. The landscape architects, in response to these issues, developed a master plan which seeks to maintain existing uses and respects the historic landscape design and fabric of existing trees. Significant new uses and amenities were also proposed for the Midway. These include a permanent skating rink and warming hut; all-season gardens north and south of the skating rink; traffic-calming and other pedestrian improvements; a new reader’s garden; an urban horticultural center, including demonstration gardens, greenhouses, and multi-purpose space; and a children’s garden.
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. worked with The Olin Partnership of Philadelphia, who were the prime consultant for the project. The Midway Plaisance Master Plan received an Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award in 2000.