The AIA Chicago Foundation announced Chicago-based firm David Woodhouse Architects as the winner of the international Burnham Memorial Competition. The architectural contest, launched in February 2009, seeks to build a lasting and notable memorial that will inspire and educate the public, and honor the memory and importance of Daniel Burnham and his 1909 Plan of Chicago. The second prize went to Hoerr Schaudt of Chicago, the third prize to Sasaki Associates, Inc. of Boston.
The memorial will be built on a site in front of the Field Museum in Chicago’s Grant Park, and completion is scheduled for late 2010. Competition and construction of the memorial is enabled by the AIA Chicago Foundation who acts as the fiduciary agent for the competition.
First Place: David Woodhouse Architects, Chicago, IL
The Memorial offers an opportunity to reconnect the site—disconnected from the whole by Lake Shore Drive—by completing the geometry and providing a public anchor to the southeast corner of Grant Park. Placing the Memorial in the exact corner, from its elevated position, allows the visitor to make this connection to its place in the City as they look down the line of Roosevelt Rd or along the waters edge. The Memorial’s design is rooted in classical precedent (the Athenian Acropolis itself has a diagonal approach up an incline past an off-center cubic volume to a central pedimented portico) and principles of axiality—just as Burnham’s designs were. Anchored by the classically formed axis of the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, it also recognizes the contemporary realities of the functional planning of generous public space by merging these elements within a site that is asymmetrically weighted to emphasize the spectacular views available.
Second Place: Hoerr Schaudt, Chicago, IL
The site of the Daniel Hudson Burnham Memorial, staged dramatically in front of his Field Museum, offers a breathtaking, sweeping view of Burnham’s vision of Chicago’s lakefront. Our design captures this view, helping the public understand Burnham’s vision for Chicago as well as his significant work throughout the US and abroad. The grand lawn north of the Field Museum will be re-graded as a gently sloped mound, smoothing the existing terraces in proper scale with the monumental Field Museum forecourt and classical façade, integrating seamlessly with the Memorial.
The Memorial is sensitive to the architectural surroundings from multiple views. While respecting the presence and material palette of the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, our design maintains a powerful presence as one approaches, yet is modest in that it does so without sacrificing the existing open green space. It is both modest in its placement and bold in its experience. It is both contemporary and traditional. It is a place for contemplation and a place of celebration. It accommodates a single visitor or a crowd of hundreds attending an event. It is a modern, simple form built of classic, durable Chicago materials—bronze, granite and limestone. In these ways, we hope it is a memorial to and a piece of Burnham’s timeless legacy.
Third Place: Sasaki Associates, Inc., Watertown, MA
Inspired by Burnham’s understanding of the landscape of Chicago, this proposal creates a Memorial Path that negotiates three reconfigured landscapes—the City Terraces, The Prairie and the Lake—and shifts the orientation of the site to the expansive view of the Horizon.
The Memorial Path makes a direct connection between Grant Park and the Lakefront and then connects directly to the Terrace of Burnham’s great Field Museum. Stainless steel studs etch the surface of the path with text relating to Burnham’s greatest quotes and accomplishments, and on the Lakefront promenade the pieces of steel form an image of the man himself. The textured surfaces recall the tactile structure his architectural designs so embraced. Intermittent LED fixtures within the dotted text pattern give the path a constellation of light at night.
The Tunnel Cloud—An inner shell is formed within the existing tunnel, creating a stunning new gateway to Burnham Park and introducing visitors to the Memorial.
Images: AIA Chicago Foundation