The Last Four Miles: Completing Chicago’s Lakefront Parks

Chicago’s 26 miles of public lakeshore park system creates a linear park that is unrivaled for its beauty and public accessibility. The “Last Four Miles” is comprised of two stretches along the lakefront that are not public parks but remain in private or quasi-governmental ownership.

Friends of the Parks is a parks advocacy group established in 1976 with a mission to preserve, protect, improve, and increase the use of Chicago’s parks. Motivated by the Burnham and Bennett Plan Centennial, Friends of the Parks enlisted Bauer Latoza Studio as part of the design team to work with citizens, park advisory councils, community groups, public officials, and government representatives to envision the completion of Chicago’s lakefront parks. Design concepts were developed to complete the south lakefront parks between 71st and 95th Streets, and the north lakefront parks between Hollywood Avenue and the Chicago/Evanston border. Bauer Latoza Studio focused the designs on a number of guiding principles derived from the public meeting process. The concepts included the creation of additional parkland and beaches including active and passive recreational spaces, new peninsulas and lagoons, pedestrian and bicycle circulation systems, and wildlife and plant habitats.

To help develop initial cost estimates for future implementation of the design concepts, shoreline and hydrology engineering consultants were brought on board to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed park designs for both the north and south lakefront. Bauer Latoza Studio worked with the engineers to analyze the environmental requirements, potential ecological benefits, and engineering feasibility, and to develop budget estimates for the design concepts.

  • Client: Friends of the Parks
  • Project Address: Chicago, IL
  • Project Size: 4 miles
  • Construction Cost: $350 – $450 million
  • Services Provided: Design Concepts, Public Collaboration, Environmental and Engineering Assessment Analyses, Budget Development
  • Awards: 2009 Urban Design Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago
  • 2009 Planning and Analysis Award from the Illinois American Society of Landscape Architects (ILASLA)
  • 2009 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan from the American Planning Association, Illinois Chapter (APA IL)
  • Friends of the Park recognized Bauer Latoza with a 2009 Community Service Award