Lincoln Park Zoo
The Nature Boardwalk transforms a picturesque yet unsustainable urban pond from the 19th century into an ecological habitat buzzing with life.
With the design’s improvements to water quality, hydrology, landscape, accessibility, and shelter, the site is able to function as an outdoor classroom that demonstrates the coexistence of nature and city.
When it was built in 1908, Lincoln Park Zoo’s South Pond reflected the Victorians’ romantic and recreational concept of nature in the city. Today the pond offers benefits that extend beyond visual spectacle. As the Nature Boardwalk, it has become a crucial, connective habitat for resident and migratory animal populations, a popular outdoor destination and learning landscape for city residents and visitors alike, and a functional, self-sustaining solution to Chicago's aging stormwater infrastructure.
The boardwalk circumscribes the pond, passing through various educational zones that share information about different animals, plants, and habitats. A pavilion integrated into the boardwalk sequence provides shelter for open-air classes, programs, and events on site.
The benefits of this design approach include improving water quality and plant variety for a better, more diverse animal habitat, reducing reliance on aging city infrastructure, and creating an experiential outdoor educational environment.
The pavilion is made of prefabricated glu-lam wood "ribs" and fiberglass domes. Each piece was designed to be light enough for workers to lift and install by hand.
Best Small Structure Award (Magnusson Klemencic), Structural Engineers Association of Illinois, 2011
Distinguished Building, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2011
American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum, 2011
Innovative Design Award, WoodWorks, 2010
Patron of the Year (Lincoln Park Zoo), Chicago Architecture Foundation, 2010
Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc., program manager, coordinating engineer, and master planner
Shaw Sustainable Design Solutions of Illinois, project architect
WRD Environmental, landscape architect
Christopher B. Burke Engineering, hydrology
Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural engineering
Pepper Construction, general contractor
Cosgrove Construction, Inc., pavilion contractor
Fox River Components, subcontractor