June 27--Five years after unveiling plans for a public memorial to the great Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham, the project's backers issued a revised concept Thursday that includes an interactive, 1.6-mile walking trail stretching from Millennium Park to the Museum Campus.
They need no little cash -- roughly $7.5 million -- to transform their concept into reality.
Like the original plans, designed by Chicago architect David Woodhouse and made public in 2009 on the 100th anniversary of Burnham's influential Plan of Chicago, the new version calls for two tall walls, which would be set at right angles in the Field Museum's north plaza. Visitors would slip between the walls and gaze upon the dazzling cityscape that Burnham did so much to shape.
In Woodhouse's new plan, the walls would be of glass, not granite, and a statue of Burnham has been eliminated. But the biggest shifts in the plan are already in place: The project, now called View Chicago, features a mobile devices app, available at viewchicago.org/path, that guides visitors through 16 stops, beginning at Millennium Park'sCloud Gate sculpture and ending at the planned site of the right-angled walls.
The idea, said Gary Johnson, president of the Chicago History Museum, is to use the latest technology to create a dynamic, interactive experience rather than a conventional, static memorial that offers a dull history lesson. "View Chicago remains true to Burnham's spirit of looking forward, not just dwelling on the past," Johnson said in a statement.
Renderings of the project are on display at McCormick Place, where the American Institute of Architects' national convention opened Thursday. The institute chose View Chicago as a legacy project of the convention. The Chicago chapter of the AIA is collaborating on the effort with the History Museum, as well as other museums, city officials, foundations, banks and academic institutions.
Funding remains the key stumbling block. The project cost has increased from $5 million to $7.5 million, Johnson said, chiefly because organizers want to establish a maintenance fund for the Chicago Park District, which would be responsible for View Chicago.
With only a few hundred thousand dollars in seed money raised, organizers are hoping that a single donor will write a check. The search for one will start soon, Johnson said.
The final component of the project invites eighth-grade students to the History Museum to learn about Chicago's past and write their own plans for the city's future. The design for the walls remains at a conceptual stage, with Woodhouse trying to solve construction and maintenance issues arising from the shift to glass.
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