Activation successful: Chicago Loop Alliance delivers on Pritzker Park - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Activation successful: Chicago Loop Alliance delivers on Pritzker Park

Despite the rain, Chicago Loop Alliance successfully activated Pritzker Park.

A few weeks ago, I shared a number of Placemaking strategies that could be used to enliven some of Chicago’s underused parks and plazas, many of which were lessons I learned while attending a training with Project for Public Spaces in New York City earlier this year. In that post, I specifically mention Chicago Loop Alliance’s recent curatorial ownership of Pritzker Park and all of the potential this park, in particular, holds.

I stopped by the park on a recent beautiful afternoon to see if there was any activity taking place. My tweet basically sums up what I saw. This sparked a conversation on Twitter, yielding some great suggestions for better seating, some shade and seasonal activities—curling in the winter, anyone? While I stood in the grass, taking in the scene, I was struck by how many college students gathered across the street and couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t enjoying the lovely grass in the park. Lying on blankets and throwing Frisbees—isn’t that, after all, something that college students love to do? It occurred to me that maybe we need to help them rethink how to use this space, too.

On Tuesday, June 10, though, we started to realize all of the potential Pritzker Park has to offer as it took on a new identity when the Chicago Loop Alliance delivered on its promise of activation. Despite the rain, the park was abuzz with lunchtime activity: a live music performance (think brass band meets circus—totally awesome), new (and movable!!!) seating and the coordination of food trucks. Visitors clearly enjoyed the program.

The work isn't done, though. Providing a program that people can regularly expect will help continue to bring them there and keep the park bustling throughout the summer. I look forward to spending more lunch hours this summer in Pritzker Park—hopefully the sun will be out and I will finally have the chance to kick my shoes off in the grass.

Despite the rain, a live musical performance helped enliven Pritzker Park.

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