SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture - General Design,
The University of Chicago for Midway Crossings with BauerLatoza Studio
The University of Chicago's Midway Crossings project is a historic, mile-long, 80-acre open space originally designed in 1870 by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. The goal was to revive the unique green-space as a front yard and park instead of a perceived barrier.
The university encouraged strong collaboration throughout all phases of the project. The concept addressed considerations for student environment and campus identity, and the design needed to address site-specific needs ranging from plant selection to roadway lighting.
The project design has dramatic symbolic bridges at Ellis Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue creating a stronger sense of identity within the campus and surrounding communities. The luminous bridges suggest continuity and break down the scale of the mile-long park.
The theme of luminous views arose as the team focused on how a shallow arch of a long-span bridge frames and concentrates the sky’s brightness within the ground plane. Considerations for scale were addressed with 40-foot light masts emitting a glowing light, and internally lighted railings and pathway lights reinforce this rhythm.
The result is a dramatic transformation for the open space of the Midway Plaisance and the University of Chicago campus. The project has changed the park into a destination rather than a barrier and altered the community’s perception of this now-celebrated space.
The jury said, “ . . . this is a big urban move by the university . . . it is a gift to the city . . .”
Guiding principles included creating a welcoming community connection, destination, and link between the neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, increase the sense of safety, and improve the pedestrian environment.
In addition, the university’s reputation in academia for redefining the future with vision-changing ideas and its commitment to architectural heritage were strong themes that were considered.
“When a project can solve a practical need, improve the quality and beauty of an environment, and create points where true connections among people of various communities can occur, then it has been successful and useful beyond itself toward a greater good,” says Desiree DiLucente, senior project manager, capital project delivery at The University of Chicago. “This project is truly one of kind,” she adds.
Project Team: The University of Chicago with BauerLatoza Studio; also James Carpenter Design Associates; Schuler Shook; Matrix Engineering Corporation