Man with the Plan

Man with the Plan

Courtesy David Woodhouse Architects

Chicago, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Chicago this year, is honoring Burnham’s memory with a permanent memorial. Chicago-based architect David Woodhouse was selected this week as the winner of an invited competition to design a memorial to Burnham. Privately funded by the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust and organized by the AIA Chicago Foundation, the Burnham Memorial Design Competition invited 20 competitors, including smaller firms like Studio Gang and John Ronan Architects as well as giants like SOM and Perkins + Will.

Woodhouse’s design incorporates three primary elements, named Corner, Overlook, and Lawn, on the proposed Museum Campus site directly north of The Field Museum, designed by Burnham, and west of Shedd Aquarium. The Corner is composed of two warm gray granite walls set at right angles. The south and east faces of the granite walls will be rough and hold an offset tracery of the Chicago plan in stainless steel.

The north and west faces of the granite will be smoothly polished, reflecting city views. A statue of Burnham will be placed adjacent to the Corner. The Overlook is a 230-feet long granite plinth, two-feet high and eight-feet wide, centered on the north portico of The Field Museum. Flat metal bas relief panels across the top of the Overlook plinth will depict the chronological history of Chicago from one end to the other. The Lawn will be reconfigured as a gentle slope bisected by a path of permeable pavers.

“I’m pretty floored,” Woodhouse told AN. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to explore what Burnham has done. I learned a lot about him. He was much more modern than we often think.”

Estimated to cost approximately $5 million and tentatively planned for completion in 2011, the Woodhouse design would need to be approved by both the Chicago Park District board of commissioners and the Chicago Plan Commission. The plan for a memorial on the Museum Campus site, which was landscaped just over a decade ago, has drawn criticism from those who believe constructing a memorial here is a low priority.

Woodhouse was one of three finalists. The design by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects of Chicago earned second place and Sasaki Boston took third place. Models and boards from the 20 entries will be exhibited at The Field Museum from August 21 to January 3, 2010.