The Cooper Union
School of Architecture

Chicago, Illinois

Ecological concerns demand that one should step lightly into Lake Michigan; thus our vision of an offshore Land-Float park for Chicago is composed of a sinuous island built on piles and Great Lakes steel barges anchored to the lakebed. The barges are connected to each other and to the island with a continuous series of catwalks. The offshore park is accessed by six piers, each extending from public parks along the existing shoreline. The Elektron Park provides a large new area for recreational activity, but it also serves to produce clean energy from renewable resources – both SUN, plentiful on the flat surface of the Lake, and WIND, for which the city of Chicago is so famous.

The Island is conceived as a great public lawn, its length approximately equal to that of New York’s Central Park. A double line of trees is planted along its length and an offshore Loop links the spaces of outdoor recreation. Playing fields for baseball, soccer, tennis, and hockey would be dispersed along the island’s length.

The steel barges, of three existing dimensions, accommodate various recreational programs. Many are filled with soil and planted with native shade trees and prairie grasses, creating forests and fields for hiking and picnicking. There are long lap pools for recreational and competitive swimming, artificial beaches for suntanning and volleyball, and running tracks. Many barges are dedicated to the production of clean energy, with flat-mounted photovoltaic panels interspersed with native prairie grasses.

Illinois electricity is generated largely from coal-fired power plants (45%) and nuclear power plants (38%). The future should aim to develop clean, renewable energy supply. Our proposal for Elektron Offshore Park would be a step in the right direction – it would provide 247 residential blocks of Chicago with clean electricity.

Design team:
Landscape and Architectural Design: Catherine Seavitt STUDIO, New York
Mechanical Engineering: Byron Stigge, Buro Happold and Associates, New York
Structural Engineering: Cristóbal Correa, Buro Happold and Associates, New York

Visiting Professor, Adjunct Faculty