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Millennium Park Update   by Richard F. Ward
for Landscape Buyers Magazine..... Fall, 2000

NEW TIMETABLE In the Fall, 1999 issue of Landscape Buyer magazine, the cover story was on Chicago's new lakefront jewel - Millennium Park. An updated timetable now projects the reconstructed Grant Park North garage and the southern half of the new Millennium Garage will be opened in November, 2000. The north half of the Millennium Garage will be opened in the early Spring of 2001. The basic park improvements along Michigan Avenue will be available for public access during the Summer of 2001. The major donor enhancements will be added through the years 2001 and 2002. We can expect the outdoor stage to be available for performances in July of 2002 and the indoor Music and Dance Theater performances are projected to begin in the Fall of 2002.

REVISED COST ESTIMATES The original estimate for the cost to the City of Chicago was $170 million to be paid for with the revenues from the parking garages. Several design changes and enhancements now project the costs will be $220 million supportable by a combination of garage revenues and the Central Loop T.I.F. funds. When we add the additional major donor contributions of $60 to $70 million, our beautiful new lakefront attraction will be enjoyed by our citizens and visitors for many years to come. It will be a proud centerpiece to our regional landscaping industry and will focus international attention on our city.

ICE RINK ON MICHIGAN AVENUE It was recently announced that the final plans for the Millennium Park Ice Rink that will face Michigan Avenue will include a 300 seat year-round restaurant that will blend in with the gardens over the facility. The surface of the ice rink will be an ideal platform during the warmer months for alfresco (outdoor) dining and programmed activities such as art and craft fairs and markets.  A storage and dressing room facility for bicycle commuters is being constructed with a federal grant with access from upper Randolph just west of Columbus Drive. It will help reduce traffic in the downtown area and provide a healthy option for our citizens and rental opportunities for our visitors. The City of Chicago is really making living in and visiting our city a more enjoyable experience.

INTERNATIONAL GARDEN DESIGN COMPETITION Prominent international architectural landscaping firms are being invited to participate in a design competition for the Millennium Park Gardens. The competition area is a 2.3 acre essentially flat area, constructed on a maximum of 4 feet of earth on top of a three-level reinforced concrete garage, northwest of Monroe and Columbus. It is just south of the Gehry trellis and bridge and across Monroe from the planned Art Institute addition. The competition goals include introducing beautiful combinations of plant materials that one would not normally see in most Chicago public gardens or anywhere else. This will probably require contract growing. Additional competition guidelines include: water features are permitted but should be sedate given that an architectural fountain, along with smaller fountains and pools are provided elsewhere in the park. Any sculpture should also be minimal, since a monumental piece is planned elsewhere in the park. The gardens will be paid for with major donor funds. Our new gardens will be an attractive destination for family vacations, conventions, business travelers, and the citizens of our region. The Richard M. Driehaus Foundation is the major donor that has agreed to support this competition that will focus attention on the future Gardens of Millennium Park.

List of Participants for the Garden Design Competition
Clock House Denmans, West Sussex, England
Deborah Nevins & Associates, Inc., New York, New York
Douglas Hoerr Landscape Architects, Evanston, Illinois
Glass Garden, Los Angeles, California
J. Mendoza Gardens, Inc., New York, New York
Gustafson Partners Ltd., Vashon Island, Washington
Louis Benech, Paris, France
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Office of Dan Kiley, Charlotte, Vermont
Olin Partnership Ltd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Piet Oudolf , Hummelo, Netherlands
Peter Walker and Partners, Inc., Berkley, California
Studio On Site, Tokyo, Japan

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