Location: Chicago, Illinois
Project owner: City of Chicago
Designers: Edward Uhlir et al.
Size: 24.5 acres (10 ha)
Project website: www.millenniumparkfoundation.org
In 1998, Mayor Richard M. Daley established a partnership with Chicago’s philanthropic community called the Millennium Park Foundation (MPF), a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, and together they produced Millennium Park, which opened July 16, 2004.
Located at the northwest corner of Grant Park, it transformed 16.5 acres (6.7 ha) of rail lines and a surface parking lot and another eight acres (3.2 ha) of shabby parkland built on top of a deteriorated underground garage into a unique outdoor cultural venue. It was built atop two new underground parking garages, a commuter rail station, and a bus roadway, making it one of the largest public roof landscapes in the United States.
It is a place for Chicagoans and tourists to enjoy more than 80 free events every year as well as outdoor amenities, including concerts, gardens, ice skating, restaurants, festivals, fairs, fountains, water features, and interactive public art.
Many architects, landscape architects, and artists have contributed to the production of this new Chicago icon, including McDonough Associates, Gehry Partners, Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, GGN, OWP/P, SOM, Terry Guen Design, Harley Ellis Devereaux, and Muller and Muller. Two art pieces within Millennium Park have garnered extraordinary public acceptance because they provide a community experience that is very interactive. Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, colloquially referred to as “the Bean,” and Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain are now two of Chicago’s sculpture icons.
Millennium Park’s enhancements were funded by an extraordinary public/private partnership. The city’s $270 million commitment was used to provide the park’s infrastructure. The private sector raised $220 million from individuals, foundations, and corporations to provide park enhancements and establish a $25 million endowment. The decade-old park’s annual visitation has grown each year and now exceeds 5 million.