Designed by Frank Gehry

General Information about the Park

Great Chicago Places & Spaces Tour

BP Pedestrian Bridge by Gehry

Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa

Lurie Garden

Construction Info

Bike Facility

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Kapoor Sculpture

"Green" Features

Harris Music and Dance Theater

Park Grill

Panoramic view of Gehry Bandshell and Lawn

The Gehry bandshell has an interesting story in the way that it came about.Initially the idea was that the park would have a modest venue in which it would handle around 30,000 people.That proposal was introduced by Mayor Daley on March 21, 1998.Some may say then that we are missing out, because now the capacity is pegged around 11,000 with 4,000 of those being permanent seating, and the rest on the great lawn behind it.I’m not sure if the thirty thousand estimate was a case of being overly optimistic, given how small the area is, but clearly the park would have been nothing more than the bandshell if that was the case.

Full view of Gehry Bandshell with Trellis
As the park nears completion it is evident that the area will be more than just a summer festival ground, but a year round attraction. Comparing the park to Ravinia, officials hoped that it would be a place where people would meet and enjoy a nice evening out listening to quality music, the only difference being this would be free.


Construction on Gehry Bandshell

Blair Kamin later in an article about the idea really seems to relish the fact that Chicago can get a hold of brand new parkland right in front of downtown.  Even so he mentions that the bandshell may accommodate the jazz, blues, country and gospel fests, but that is probably no longer the case because the crowds will be too large to fit in the completed space.  Officials said that the Petrillo Music Shell would be razed and the new bandshell would become the city’s main festival site.  We now know that Petrillo will stay where it is and still be host to most of the major festivals, but who knows this may change in the future also.  Kamin blasts the initial design saying “the stage resembles one of those earnest solar houses that were jammed into hillsides in the 1960s.  The bulbous blob certainly can be made more graceful.”  How far we’ve come indeed.  No one can say now that the stage resembles any sort of solar house, but its interesting to note that the park will have four solar panel pavilions, perhaps that is what Kamin was referring to, but I doubt it.    


Panels being put in place

I have just recently found that the initial redering of the project can be found on Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP's website. Go to Projects, Cultural and click on Millennium Park. Another article describes the initial plan as as “a large, state-of-the-art stage tucked into a hill that cascades downward from Randolph .  It will house dressing rooms and rehearsal, warm-up, storage and administrative space.”  And the additions begin.


View of Gehry Bandshell from the Sears Tower

April 17, 1998 the Sun-Times informs us that the Talaske Group of Oak Park will be providing sound enhancement to the new park.  They actually went out and tested the set up at Petrillo, using 26 speakers on stands, and the crowd enjoyed its first taste almost 6 years ago of what will be even better today.  Talaske’s idea was to set up poles within the crowd extending all the way up to the great lawn, and only meant as a compliment to the base speakers on the stage.  The estimated cost was a mere $1 million.  In the article it mentions that “the sound is best in the first dozen rows, reserved for Grant Park Music Festival members, so membership still will have its privileges.”  Well not anymore, and the planners, mostly Gehry were right in correcting this, and with such an interesting plan too.  The trellis system now in place will give everyone in the audience near concert hall quality sound.

  To be continued …

Panoramic View of Pritzker Pavilion from Behind
Construction updates on the Bandshell, this article is a very in-depth analysis of what it took to get this new structure up, very informative and a bit technical

Pritzker All Lit Up
Arcspace models of what the bandshell will look like, and does look like as it nears completion. Interesting note, the site still lists the completion date as set for 2001 and here we are almost mid 2004, but the bandshell is well worth the wait.

Guggenheim Description
Talaske Group - Acoustics that will blow your mind, the park will be "enclosed" by a steel trellis system that was set up to provide uninterrupted views of the stage. The acoustics are said to be as good as an indoor concert hall, even though it will be sitting in the heart of downtown Chicago. Can't wait to hear it.

At Night
Looking Down
Men at Work
More Night Construction
Cranes at Work
Glass Doors
Looking at the Pavilion
Dual Construction
Looking South Towards Future Pavilion

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Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1998.  Proposal to turn old rail yard into park draws praise IC site would become music venue.  Sheryl Kennedy & Gary Washburn.

  Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1998.  Millennium Design Lithe but not Lofty.  Blair Kamin  

Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1998. A park idea from the ‘70’s returns for the millennium.  Gary Washburn.  

Chicago Sun-Times, March 31, 1998. Splendor in the grass.  

Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1998. A critic weighs in a park for the people. Blair Kamin.  

Chicago Sun-Times, April 17, 1998. A sound beginning. Proposed Grant Park speaker system shows promise.