One Museum Park
1201 and 1211 S. Prairie Ave.
Something exciting is happening at the southern edge of Grant Park, and that something is One Museum Park. There is an undeniable energy at Grant Park’s northern end where towering buildings compete for attention behind the undulating forms of the Pritzker Pavilion. All of that energy goes static at the park’s southern end – the gaping hole of Chicago’s architectural landscape. The recent completion of One Museum Park is a hopeful hint of what’s to come.
One Museum Park is comprised of two connected buildings: One Museum Park East and One Museum Park West. At 62 stories and 734ft., the eastern building is the star of the two. Depending on your vantage point these two buildings take on entirely different forms. From the west, instead of looking like two separate buildings they merge into one multi-tiered skyscraper. The southern side is the most surprising – one of the buildings is torn open to reveal layers upon layers of elliptical towers. And the eastern short and stubby side is the disappointing perspective. We’re most familiar with the elegant northern side of the complex that faces the park – tall, sleek and slender.
The local firm of Pappageorge/Haymes, who have designed over 15,000 housing units in Chicago, designed one Museum Park. Though they may be prolific architects, they haven’t always been as popular with the public as they have with developers. George Pappageorge and David Haymes have been criticized for their previously uninspired buildings that dot Chicago’s skyline. But One Museum Park shows what this firm is really capable of. The original design for the buildings was altered when city officials encouraged the developers to build something more interesting – an architectural landmark – due to their prominence on the park.
The buildings are part of a large development in the museum campus area planned by the Enterprise Companies called Central Station. Pappageorge and Haymes designed two more high rises adjacent to One Museum Park that would complete Grant Park’s southern street wall if built (which at this time is looking unlikely). Though with two buildings built, some day more buildings are sure to come.
With its reflective blue and green glass walls, and playful forms One Museum Park is textbook contemporary architecture. And though it’s far from perfect (as seen from its enlarged eastern side), it’s still something where there was nothing.
To see all of the other buildings that Pappageorge/Haymes have designed around the city and country visit their website. Because the buildings face Grant Park and the lake, the views from One Museum Park are hard to beat. To tour the interiors of the buildings check out the website of the Museum Park Sales Center.
Though One Museum Park stands prominently on the Chicago skyline, it’s not free of criticism. People love it and they hate it. How do you feel about it? Please share your comments below.