Chicago’s Jackson Park is expected to see some big changes in the coming years. Nonprofit organization Project 120 is working to revitalize the park, restoring many of the design aspects implemented by its landscape architect, the famous Frederick Law Olmsted. Alongside this restoration, the park will also receive a new Phoenix Pavilion, homage to Japan’s gift to the US for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. An outdoor performance space will be added to the park, as will an installation funded by musician and activist Yoko Ono. See the details, after the break.
Though Jackson Park will see many new additions to its landscape, the effort to restore its old one will be perhaps its greatest change. Olmsted planned the park in 1897, but time has since ravaged much of his designs. The 1950s saw a series of unfortunate changes: A missile installation on the park’s Great Lawn, the infill of lagoons to make way for parking lots and recreation facilities, and the steady growth of invasive plants. Today, Project 120 is working alongside the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Patricia O'Donnell of Heritage Landscapes LLC, to recreate much of Olmsted’s work in a way that is both environmentally stable and attractive to the public. This includes eradicating those invasive species, increasing habitat areas for native fish and wildlife, restoring much of the Great Lawn, and opening the park landscape up to views of scenic Lake Michigan.
The newer additions to the park will only enhance the restoration effort. The new Phoenix Pavilion will act as the park’s welcome center. Beneath its soaring wooden roof, visitors will have access to exhibitions about Jackson Park’s history and design, a café, and bathrooms. Multi-purpose rooms will also be incorporated into the design, allowing the pavilion to host parties, lectures, and other social events.
Connected to the Pavilion is the "Music Court," an outdoor stage and performance area set on the very ground that Olmsted placed the park’s original outdoor amphitheater. Architect Kulapat Yantrasat of wHY has been selected to design both of these spaces.
Though there are no official images of it yet, Yoko Ono will also be making a design contribution to Jackson Park. Called "Sky Landing," this will be Ono’s first public commission, and will make visitors “feel a communal connection to earth and sky when experiencing the work.” The installation will be implemented with respect for the surrounding landscaping and the nearby Phoenix Pavilion.