A Walk in Millennium Park

Atwood Restaurant, Hotel Burnham
Atwood Restaurant, Hotel Burnham

After a delicious breakfast of French toast…

Atwood Restaurant, Hotel Burnham
Atwood Restaurant, Hotel Burnham

… Puffles and Honey are out and about in Millennium Park.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Millennium Park is a public park located in the Loop community area of Chicago and part of the larger Grant Park. The park has received awards for its accessibility and green design.

The park features the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, and various other attractions. The park is connected by the BP Pedestrian Bridge and the Nichols Bridgeway to other parts of Grant Park. Because the park sits atop a parking garage and the commuter rail Millennium Station, it is considered the world’s largest rooftop garden.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, also known as Pritzker Pavilion or Pritzker Music Pavilion, is a bandshell in Millennium Park. It features a sound system with an acoustic design that replicates an indoor concert hall sound experience.

The pavilion was named after Jay Pritzker, whose family is known for owning Hyatt Hotels and who founded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes and often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture. The building was designed by architect Frank Gehry, who accepted the design commission in April 1999 after some arm twisting by Jay Pritzker.

The construction of the pavilion created a legal controversy, given that there are historic limitations on the height of buildings in Grant Park. To avoid these legal restrictions, the city classifies the bandshell as a work of art rather than a building. Creative!

Panoramic view of the Great Lawn, trellis, and bandshell at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in May 2009. Wikipedia
Panoramic view of the Great Lawn, trellis, and bandshell at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in May 2009. Wikipedia

The BP Pedestrian Bridge is a girder footbridge over Columbus Drive that connects Millennium Park with Maggie Daley Park, both parts of the larger Grant Park. The pedestrian bridge is the first bridge Gehry designed to be built, and was named for BP plc, which donated $5 million to the construction of the park. The bridge is known for its aesthetics, and Gehry’s style is seen in its biomorphic allusions and extensive sculptural use of stainless steel plates to express abstraction. The bridge is referred to as snakelike in character due to its curving form. The bridge’s design, which meets highway standards to accommodate rushes of pedestrian traffic simultaneously exiting Pritzker Pavilion events, enables it to bear a heavy load.

BP Bridge
BP Bridge

The pedestrian bridge serves as a noise barrier for the pavilion, blocking traffic sounds from Columbus Drive. The BP Bridge uses a concealed box girder design with a concrete base, and its deck is covered by hardwood floor boards. It is designed without handrails, using stainless steel parapets instead. The total length is 285m, with a five percent slope on its inclined surfaces that makes it barrier-free and accessible. It has won awards for its use of sheet metal. Although the bridge is closed in winter because ice cannot be safely removed from its wooden walkway, it has received favorable reviews for its design and aesthetics.

The two signature attractions for the casual visitor — Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate — have been, in so many ways, perfectly designed for the new experiential, touch-obsessed moment. Cloud Gate has turned out to be the ultimate smartphone-friendly destination, its shiny surface offering so many chances for the self-chronicler, its reflective surface offering a selfie within a selfie within a selfie, and beloved for that.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Cloud Gate (also known as “the Bean”) is a reflective steel sculpture that is inspired by liquid mercury; the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. The curved, mirror-like surface of the sculpture provides striking reflections of visitors, the city skyline (particularly the historic Michigan Avenue “streetwall”) and the sky.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

After Kapoor’s design for the sculpture was selected during a design competition, numerous technological concerns regarding the design’s construction and assembly arose, in addition to concerns regarding the sculpture’s upkeep and maintenance. Experts were consulted, some of whom believed the design could not be implemented. Eventually, a feasible method was found, but the sculpture’s construction fell behind schedule. Cloud Gate was unveiled in an incomplete form during the Millennium Park grand opening celebration, as the grid of welds around each metal panel was still visible. The sculpture was concealed again while it was completed; in early 2005, workers polished out the seams. Cloud Gate was formally dedicated on May 15, 2006, and it has since gained considerable popularity, both domestically and internationally.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

The sculpture is the first public artwork in the United States by world-renowned artist Anish Kapoor.

Anish Kapoor has created some of the most memorable works of art of current times. Through a career spanning four decades, Anish Kapoor has re-imagined the medium of sculpture, finding new ways to challenge and beguile audiences. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney held the first exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s work in Australia in 2012-2013. The exhibition began outside the Museum, with Kapoor’s spectacular Sky Mirror (2006) on the front lawn, drawing viewers to the Museum with its play of reflections and light which melded the work into the surrounding landscape.

Sky Mirror at MCA, Sydney
Sky Mirror at MCA, Sydney

The Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture, named in honor of Chicago’s Crown family. It was designed by Catalan conceptual artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of transparent glass brick towers. The towers are 15 m tall and use light-emitting diodes behind the bricks to display digital videos on their inward faces of Chicago citizens.

Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain

Lurie Garden, 2.5 acres of prairie and other plantings on the southern edge of Millennium Park, is a place of rest.

Lurie Garden
Lurie Garden

The Lurie Garden is a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees. It was designed by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel and the design pays homage to Chicago’s transformation from flat marshland to innovative green city, or “Urbs in Horto” (city in a Garden).

Lurie Garden
Lurie Garden

Puffles and Honey are enjoying the sunshine after the extra cold weekend in Chicago.

Lurie Garden
Lurie Garden

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