Three Planes and a Bench


So I’ve been spilling a lot of words all about how (mostly other) people create buildings, spaces, and urban conditions that are not what I loosely define as “responsible”. This is a personal pursuit of mine to learn from the mistakes of others, ostensibly to help me create more thoughtful, responsible architecture. I know what you’re all saying… “Where the hell is your responsible architecture, Mr. Blogger Man?” Well here’s an example:

comp board 01

Three Planes and a Bench, a collaborative entry into the Eckhart Park Advisory Council’s open call for a donor monument in this square block park in the Noble Square neighborhood of Chicago. I am presenting it here to demonstrate an attempt to design with added value in mind.

Graham Grilli, Chris Phillips and I decided that Eckhart Park needed an addition more than an improvement, with its ball fields, field house, and natatorium being in constant use by members of the Eckhart Park community. The competition brief encouraged entries to “visually draw passers-by into the park,” so we focused on an unused section of residual green space along Chicago Avenue, in front of the field house. As it sits currently, this space separates the bike racks and accessible entrance from the entry plaza and stairs up to the front door. Our scheme creates paths into and through this area, adding versatility as well as usability to this neglected plot of land.

Feasibility was also listed as a concern of the Eckhart Park Advisory Council’s competition brief. Our proposal uses common construction materials in their manufactured state, reducing both material and labor costs, and construction waste. The paver bricks, glass block and metal name plates are inexpensive, can withstand the harsh winters and will endure for decades to honor the individuals and businesses that are invested in the park and its neighborhood.

comp board 02

I am writing this to remind myself of why we designed what we did for this competition. This Saturday, at 9am, we have been invited by the EPAC to a meeting to discuss what may ultimately be built. And we’re not the only ones attending. All three of the finalists have been requested to show up. All of the finalists can be seen at the Eckhart Park Advisory Council’s website.

So wish us luck, as we have a “client meeting,” and hopefully they agree with us, and see how a little forethought can lead to inspired and responsible design.


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