Ideas brewing in proposed Midway master plan
mentioned during campus master plan discussions,
the University of Chicago is working with the City of Chicago
and the Chicago Park District to bring about a master plan for
the Midway Plaisance. After presenting their ideas to the community
at three public meetings this fall, the three groups have come
up with an ambitious preliminary plan.
Midway has been both a positive and a negative for the University,
Hyde Park, and the greater South Side," says Henry Webber, the
U of C's vice president for community affairs. "It's nice to have
a large green space in the middle of campus that is relatively
open and creates opportunities for active recreation, but it has
been an underutilized park space. While it's pleasant in the summer,
in the winter it's quite barren."
Midway will be anything but barren if the proposed plan is approved.
Calling for the construction of a permanent ice--skating rink,
an urban horticultural center, and a children's garden and playground,
the plan would also entail beautifying the Midway through a variety
of gardens; redoing lighting, utilities, and curbs to make the
Midway safer and more pedestrian--friendly; and offering more cultural
and athletic programs to bring the community together.
now, says Webber, the anchor users of the Midway are the U of
C's intramural teams and the Hyde Park--Kenwood American Youth
Soccer Organization. "The challenge," he says, "is to activate
year should see the opening of the new skating rink, the beginning
of a Chicago children's summer soccer program, and a cultural
festival. In addition, the central panels of the Midway would
be raised to improve drainage, with bulbs and wildflowers planted
on the slopes, keeping the middle free for playing fields.
future projects would include creating a children's garden and
playground north of the School of Social Service Administration
Building and establishing an urban horticultural center south
of Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time. Both facilities would
be educational, with the playground employing the latest knowledge
in childhood development and the horticultural center teaching
visitors how to garden in the city.
winter garden around the rink, a reading garden at the base of
the Linnaeus statue, and a health and healing garden to the south
of the Hospitals have also been proposed. Temporary stages might
be built for music or theater performances. To better connect
the Midway to Jackson Park, the viaducts under the Metra tracks
would be cleaned up with new paint and lighting, and maybe even
a Chicago police substation.
time frame for the plan--designed with the help of Philadelphia's
Olin Partnership and local firm Wolff Clements & Associates--spans
10 to 25 years.
is obviously a visionary plan," says Webber, "but our hope would
be to do a substantial portion over the next five years." --K.S.