|Clark Park Boathouse, Studio/Gang architects - click images for larger view|
As you move out into the neighborhoods, the visual markers may be less evident, but the process was the same. In the early part of the 20th century, the North Branch of the Chicago River was straightened, redug, and deepened to increase capacity to handle the dramatically increased flow from the North Shore Channel that merges with the river just south of Foster.
|map courtesy Theme Park Maps|
As the 1960's dawned, blacks were not on display, but patrons, and Riverview remained a beloved Chicago institution whose annual opening day was probably more keenly anticipated by the city's kids than that at Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park. Then, suddenly, days after closing for the season in 1967, Riverview was sold to an investment group for $6.5 million, and demolished in quick order.
endures to this day as a makeshift memorial as inscrutable as Stonehenge, long-slated for demolition, a lack of funding its recurring reprieve.
The Garden Chicago Dirt Jumps, Chicago's first dedicated bike park, a collaboration between the city, the Park District, and Chicagoland BMX and Mountain bikers. It offers BMX bikers a series of dirt jumps, some of which are said to have been constructed from remnant stubs of the foundations of Riverview Park.
Try to move north from The Garden, however, and you're stopped by chain-link fence, through which you can see the ongoing construction of a major new boathouse, design by Jeanne Gang and Studio/Gang Architects.
|image courtesy Clark Park Advisory Council|
Victory at last.
Then in September of 2011, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build no fewer than four boathouses, each coasting $4 million, across the city. Two - at Ping Tom Park and River Park - to be designed by Johnson and Lee, and two to be designed by Studio/Gang - one around Ashland and the south branch, and the other, at Clark Park.
When the Advisory Council asked for funds for a monument to Richard Clark, they were told there wasn't any money. Now, for the Mayor's initiative, the funding floodgate opened full blast. By the time the new boathouse was approved by the Park District, the "not-to-exceed" price tag had soared to $9.45 million, including $2 million in funds from Western Avenue South TIF, along with a share of $2 million in unused funds for the cancelled 2012 NATO Summit, and a $1 million contribution from Brian Gamache, CEO of WMS Industries, whose headquaters buildings overlooks the site from across the river. (Already some websites are referring to it as the ‘WMS boathouse,’
|image courtesy Studio/Gang architects|
|image courtesy Studio/Gang Architects|
The design for the boathouse structures translates the time-lapse motion of rowing into an architectural roof form. In addition to providing visual interest, this form also offers spatial and environmental advantages. With structural truss shapes alternating between an inverted “V” and an “M”, the roof achieves a rhythmic modulation that allows southern light into the building’s upper clerestory. The clerestory glazing warms the floor slab of the structure in winter and ventilates in summer to minimize energy use year-round.
While the warm orange color is only temporary, awaiting the final stone, the peaked roof of the boathouse is already a visual landmark along the river, creating an “ah!” moment as the building reveals itself in the clearing.
To the south, there is the Belmont River Club, constructed at the turn of the 21st century on former industrial property, with over a hundred condos and townhomes. From the lovely jogging path that runs next to it, you gaze out to the river, and to the dense, tall trees along its eastern bank that muffle the sounds of the city and let the birdsongs float cleanly within the soft rustling of leaves.
The Bobs. Then it all vanished, and it was again, for the moment, just the quiet river.