Thursday, February 14, 2013

BP Gehry Now Actually Bridge to Nowhere (Temporarily)

click images for larger view
Nowhere”, is what former Mayor Daley claimed you'd find once you crossed over the sinuous Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge in Millennium Park into Daley Bi-centennial Plaza.
At the time it was a lie, designed as part of a campaign to jam a Children's Museum into Grant Park.  Now, the Gehry has actually become a bridge to nowhere.  It's fenced off at the far end, and overlooks a devastated landscape . . .
The good news is Daley lost on his gambit to build on public land declared in a famous A. Montgomery Ward court decision to be “Forever Open Clear and Free”.  The bad news is that Daley Bi had to be destroyed, anyway.  The membrane separating the park from the parking garage below had failed, causing major leaks, and it had to be replaced.  And so the the trees, flowers, shrubs and lawn of Daley Bi have been torn out, and the the topsoil carted away.
. . . although if you know the right people to let you in, you can apparently still have a picnic  . . .

The better news, however, is that, instead of a tortured building, we're getting a first class new park designed by famed landscape architect Michael van Valkenburgh.
And perhaps the best news is that technology has evolved to where we may be able to keep the new park for longer than the 35 years Daley Bi lasted before having to be replaced.
According to Grant Park Advisory Council President Bob O-Neill . . .
The new waterproofing is a hot applied monolithic membrane system that has a series of protection layers and drainage layers above it. The benefit of this system is that it has minimal seams because of its hot-applied installation.  Then there are several drainage measures in place to convey water off of the roof before it even comes in contact with the membrane itself.    As a result, a much longer lifespan is anticipated from this system than the previous installation.
You can see some examples of hot melt surfacing here and here,   A lot of riding is on the technique's durability:  a hot-applied rubberized membrane is also what separates Millennium Park from the garage and rail tracks below it.

In another couple years, we should have something very special at Daley-Bi, now renamed as Maggie Daley Park, including a thousand new trees.  (You can keep up to date on the project's website here.) 

For now, the Gehry BP is the bridge you can't cross - you can only go back the way you came - but it's a great observation platform for watching Maggie Daley Park come into being.

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