The Park at Lakeshore East / The Office of James Burnett

© james steinkamp, steinkamp photography

Architects: The Office of James Burnett
Location: Chicago, Illinois,
Master Planning: Skidmore Owings and Merrill
Design Landscape Architect: Tha Office of James Burnett
Landscape Architect of Record: Site Design Group Limited
Engineering Services: Epstein
Client: Magellan Group Limited / Loewenberg and Associates
Project Year: 2002-2003
Construction Year: 2004-2005
Constructed Area: 5.2 Acres
Photographs: james steinkamp, steinkamp photography

The Park at Lakeshore East is the central amenity of the 28-acre Lakeshore East development in Chicago’s Inner Loop. Overlooking the confluence of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Lakeshore East is a $4 billion redevelopment that will include 4,950 residential units, 1,500 hotel rooms, 2.2 million square feet of gross commercial space, 770,000 SF of retail space and an elementary school at completion. The landscape architect was engaged early in the project by the master plan architects and helped produce the open space guidelines that would later guide the design and development of the park.

© The Office of James Burnett

Integration into Chicago’s 3-tiered transit system results in a daunting grade change of approximately 25′ from the south side of the site to the north. To mitigate this condition the landscape architect created a grand overlook that offers a commanding view of the park and reinforces the axial connection to Grant Park. A minimalist arrangement of pavers carries the axis of North Field Street down the generous limestone staircase, through the park and into an intimate plaza at the north end of the site. A study in form and geometry, the plaza continues the form language of the axial connection and extrudes it into the third dimension through the addition of precast concrete seat walls set in plinths of decomposed granite and surrounded by mixed understory plantings.

© james steinkamp, steinkamp photography

Two sweeping promenades of white pavers serve as the primary east-west circulation across the site. Each promenade features a series of five fountain basins activate the street edge. Forty-six species of ornamental plants celebrate the horticultural history of Chicago and provide changing seasonal displays of color. A series of botanical courts extend along the western water garden echoing the form and proportion of the promenades.

© james steinkamp, steinkamp photography

Occupying the interstitial space created by the intersection of the promenades and the North Grant axis, the children’s garden is organized by a circular plaza with an interactive water feature and safety play surfacing. Located along the transitioning slope near the south side of the park, the dog park offers a safe, secure area for owners to play with their dog. Three hierarchical, sod-covered berms emphasize the six-foot grade change across the dog park. Slicing through the highest of the berms, a low stone fountain wall spills water into a meandering runnel that collects at base of the smallest mound.

Cite: "The Park at Lakeshore East / The Office of James Burnett" 24 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Scott

    I was in this park a year or 2 ago when it was still under construction. very nice. The park has a very private feel to it given the grade change and the residential context. although that part of the city is still a little weird since every thing is brand new and is not broken in very well yet. the way the buildings addressed the park was a little odd and it seemed like the park was a common back yard rather than a common front yard if you know what i mean. id be interested to hear what people who live in the area have to say about it.

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  • raheleh

    this park is very nice,I hope I see one very soon.unfortunately I live another country.

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