Network Reset: Rethinking the Chicago Emerald Necklace - 2011
International ideas competition intended to provide ideas and actions that can reactivate the boulevard system of Chicago and rethink its potential role in the city. Sponsored by MAS Studio, Chicago Architectural Club and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture LLP
Collaborators: Charlotte Page and Chris Phillips
The original vision of the Boulevards has been lost. No longer a Sunday destination, the system that once anchored the neighborhoods is now a discordant barrier. We propose reestablishing the Boulevard system as a pedestrian destination and corridor, through the introduction of the streetcar and the reduction of different boulevard types into one consistent but flexible identity.
The streetcar provides a strong pedestrian-centric connection between neighborhoods and promotes activity along The Chicago Ring Line. Interconnected with Metra and CTA, The Ring Line provides a counterpoint to Chicago’s hub and spoke transit infrastructure, while asserting its independence as an anchor to the outer neighborhoods of Chicago. The streetcar eases the Boulevards’ dependence on the automobile and promotes median development, thus transforming the Boulevard into a corridor of stability and growth.
The Boulevards’ current condition lacks organization across scales. Consolidating the separate types into one order with unique median environments, the Boulevards become a sequence of shifting atmospheres. A rectangular module defines the iconic nature of the Boulevard, taking on forms of pathway, shelter, and street furniture. Four environments – plaza, park, savanna, and prairie – acting as distinct settings, together establish a continuous narrative of landscapes around the city. By introducing performative flora, the Ring Line gives back to the neighborhoods through community gardens, local labor, and reduced maintenance costs.
A new sense of community pride is instilled through the establishment of the Ring Line as a structured urban thoroughfare. The placement of seasonal activity points along the Boulevards, in the form of farmers’ markets, amphitheater, greenhouses, and local fair, promote movement between landscapes and facilitate economic vitality. As the streetcar raises property values along the Boulevard, city-provided incentives, such as Tax Increment Financing and block grants, provide possible funding for continued growth.
Re-use of vacant structure into greenhouse
Amphitheater in Washington Park
Winter activities along the boulevard
Winter carnival in Sherman Park