A plan for public open at an advantageous, but underutilized retail corner in Chicago stemmed from a recommendation in the award winning Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP). moss was commissioned by the The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce to proactively plan for business and economic development, and sustainability initiatives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.
LAMP created a hub for urban scale sustainable design innovation and improvements while enhancing the pedestrian environment, strengthening business opportunities, and mending the urban ecosystem. As a component of the plan, Paulina Park, acts as an end node for the LowLine project (a linear walking path and public space under the elevated Brown Line El tracks) on an 11,858 square foot vacant lot which formerly housed an auto repair shop and is currently owned by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The CTA acquired the property to expand the adjacent Paulina Brown Line El Station in 2009, but did not build or improve most of the site. The non-profit group, Friends of Lakeview is seeking to purchase the property from the CTA to build Paulina Park.
Public open space at this site would attract shoppers from outside the neighborhood to the Lincoln Avenue shopping district and provide a gathering spot for local residents and shoppers. It would also act as a catalyst for TOD (Transit Oriented Developments) projects at the several vacant and underdeveloped properties within a 1/4 mile of the park. During our research for the master plan, Lakeview residents ranked the need for more public open space as their top priority for the neighborhood. It outranked safety, parking, shopping options, and every other category by a wide margin. A plaza and greenspace at this location responds to that desire while transforming the Paulina transit station into prominent plaza and hub for the entire city.
The park funnels the energy of the LowLine path and allows it to burst onto the site in the form of recycled concrete pavement, planted picnic mounds, and a grassy knoll. The park embraces the energy of the passing El and activity of the station house while providing a landscaped respite from the surrounding hardscape. The southern portion of the site has been designed as a plaza, responding to the urban character of the intersection and to provide a place for benches and gathering areas for community programming. A food truck corral has been carved out of the southwest corner to provide a convenient spot for food trucks to serve the neighborhood or for temporary movie screens. Raised planting beds have also been incorporated for community
urban agriculture and the several neighboring restaurants. The northern portion of the site steps up to the station house with a landscaped terrace for picnicking or urban relaxing with a more substantial green space and a fruit and nut tree grove at the northwest corner. The separation between the two areas is articulated with a bioswale to collect rainwater on site. All site lighting is downward facing with LED lamps and programmed to dim based on available light from the moon.