Architect: Muller&Muller, Ltd
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Client: City of Chicago Department of Transportation
Program : parking for 300 bikes / bike repair and parts shop / showers and lockers / Chicago bicycle police station / portable cafe / bike rental
Project Area: 1,486 sqm
Budget: US $3,000,000
Photographs: Nathan Kirkman & Robert Murphy
This project was constructed on three levels on top of and below the northwest corner of Chicago’s Millennium Park. The facility includes secure storage space for 300 bicycles, individual day use lockers, private shower stalls, and a bike repair area. The purpose of the new facility is to encourage and promote commuter bicycle transit into downtown Chicago. The building also houses the Chicago lakefront bicycle patrol and rents bikes for hourly use.
A glass-enclosed atrium links the two upper levels and gives a street presence to the mostly below- grade facility. The atrium, though small, provides a grand entry for the building. Its shell is designed to be energy efficient, incorporating natural ventilation, visible rooftop photo voltaic panels, and wall shading devices composed of fabric awnings and climbing plant material. The bike station has been constructed within the constraints of an existing parking garage structure which forms the base of Millennium Park. Interior bike station spaces are designed to maximize the limited headroom provided by this garage structure. Much of the space is below grade so lighting, colors and materials were chosen to provide a bright playful contemporary space avoiding the oppressive sense of being underground. The multiple levels of the project site also presented the problem of moving bikes up and down. This obstacle was overcome by incorporating gentle ramps into the edges of low incline stairs.
Plazas were added at two levels to accommodate retail /cafe functions and overflow bike parking for special events. The atrium structure was designed with an outer shell of stainless steel cables on which climbing plants will grow. Once mature, the plants will provide sun shading in the summer and will drop their leaves in winter to allow in the warming sun. The outer layers of the skin are created with combinations of loose planes floating around the inner, more solid shell. The building dissolves as it moves outward. Plants growing on the building are treated like building materials. They will be tightly cropped into solid mats of growth taking on geometric architectural forms allowing the building to change its appearance over time. Vines grow to cover more of the building, flowers bloom and recede, and leaves drop revealing the building’s structure. The Bike Station becomes part of the park by using the park’s own material as its cladding.