FAQs - Project 120

What is Project 120 Chicago?
Founded on August 1, 2013, Project 120 Chicago is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 that partners with the Chicago Park District and the Community to develop and implement plans and projects to holistically revitalize the nationally significant, complex historic urban spaces we call the “South Parks.”

Recognizing the historical, cultural, economic and ecological significance of the South Parks, Project 120 Chicago, in partnership with the Chicago Park District, is leading a team of talented interdisciplinary professionals to plan, develop, and carry out improvements that respect, preserve, and renew the character of the landscape as designed by Olmsted, while addressing current and future issues and needs that will promote ecology and community vitality and livability for generations to come.
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What is the focus of Project 120 Chicago?
Today, the South Parks are once again a place for grand vision and innovation, and an influential component of Chicago's South Side cultural renaissance and resurgence, and with the addition of SKY LANDING by Yoko Ono and the Obama Presidential Library, a marker for peace among all people and all nations.

We are currently focused on developing Framework Plans that integrate the parks history, existing conditions and issues and community needs. This is done through research and analysis of existing conditions, design studies, community outreach, public education, interpretation, and development of sustainable management and maintenance strategies and plans.

Specific projects include:
  • Updated Jackson Park and Washington Framework Plans (ongoing)
  • Olmsted Natural Areas Project ($8.1M historical and ecological landscape revitalization), (under construction)
  • Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park (www.gardenofthephoenix.org)
  • SKY LANDING by Yoko Ono, her only permanent art work in the Americas, (October 2016)
  • Phoenix Pavilion in Jackson Park (planning)
  • 40-acre lakefront Great Lawn and replacement of tree canopy throughout the parks (planning)
  • Historical interpretation and story-telling through films, web-sites, and other digital assets (ongoing)
  • Engagement/Crowdfunding (Planning)
  • Establishment of the South Parks Alliance/Conservancy (Planning)

This focus includes:

  • Respect, preserve, and renew the character of the landscape as designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
  • Revitalize the tangible and intangible assets of the South Parks to address current and future issues and needs of Chicago and promote ecology, community vitality, economic development and livability for generations to come.
  • Engage the local, national and international communities that they serve.
  • Create a new standard for urban parks – National Model for Revitalizing Democratic Spaces through true engagement.
  • Utilize the arts to build community, create jobs, attract tourists, and foster innovation.

Objectives include:

  • Create a cohesive and compelling (predominantly naturalistic) planting design in the Olmsted Character. This means considering historical precedents for landscape form, landscape design, planting, circulation, and views when evaluating or designing changes to the park, as well as treating historic structures and features in a manner appropriate to the relative significance.
  • Develop use and approach to landscape management and maintenance that considers the historic and ecological quality. Include consideration of environmental impacts and the management and design of recreational uses.
  • Respect the significance of water bodies and their visual and physical qualities, as well as improving water quality.
  • Provide more variety and quantity of plant material provided greater visual, or the cultural, ecological and educational interest.
  • Establish landscape planting designs that will minimize the noise and visual impact of roadways and parking lots and that will scream and soften architectural elements.
  • Maintain and/or change the shape and size of each park parcel to enhance the environmental, aesthetic and recreational benefits, provide better wildlife habitat, and to improve maintenance efficiency.
  • Respect and enhance environmentally sensitive areas in each park.
  • Provide more variety and quality plant material to provide better, more ecologically sound wildlife habitat and greater visual, horticultural, and educational interest.
  • Locate and design new structures and features in a way that retains or enhances the parks’ historic fabric and current and future needs.
  • Remove and/or redesign in a more sympathetic manner, features that detract from the integrity of the historic character.