Burnham Memorial

Re-Visioning Burnham memorializes and celebrates the centennial of Daniel Burnhamís Plan of Chicago through a design that recognizes the surrounding context of the given site and offers new ways of envisioning and experiencing the city. It is envisioned as a three-part plan composed of the memorial, a reconsidered landscape and airship.

The Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium share a latent, formal geometry instrumental in positioning the Burnham Memorial. Two axes define primary pathways and merge to form a significant space where the Daniel Burnham commemorative sculpture, narrative elements and donor wall are located. As a component of the memorial, an LED Media Wall displays a programmable arrangement of historical and cultural information perceived locally on-site or at a distance from Lake Shore Drive along the extended axis of the Field Museum. The Burnham Memorial thus links and celebrates surrounding architecture through observing and respecting context.

Further development of the site includes refinement of pathways and related improvement of the local ecologies and hydrologic system. Three primary routes, sorted from the confusion of existing paths, correspond to an evolved symbiotic network of ecologies: woodland, prairie and wetland. These landscapes follow pre-settlement hydrologies, crossing beneath and over the pathways, as well as reinforce vantage points across the site. Landscape, architecture and infrastructure interlace to form an integrated design for the Daniel Burnham Memorial site.

Daniel Burnhamís Plan of Chicago features skillfully-rendered perspectives to engage readers in re-envisioning the city. In homage to the Plan and its illustrations, Re-Visioning Burnham introduces the Memorial Airship to the program, bringing additional design amenities to the project. Lifted with hydrogen produced by algae on-site and powered by solar panels on its roof, the Memorial Airship is energy-independent and free to tour the city. People below perceive the Plan of Chicago reflected upon the hull of the airship, using it as a new way to understand and navigate the city. Airship funding is achieved through private investment of Memorial Airship Services, including tourism, advertising and aerial-imaging.

Re-Visioning Burnham acknowledges the legacy of Daniel Burnham by reinforcing architectural relationships of the museum site, restoring hydrologic balance through a network of landscapes and enabling public engagement with the city through new forms of perception and experience.

Date: 2009

Scale: Urban Planning

Location: Chicago, IL

Type: Landscape