Midway begins rebirth with rink, warming houseBy Jennifer Leovy
The University, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the surrounding community are working together on a long-term plan to transform the Midway Plaisance into a vibrant park with recreational activities year-round.
Sponsored by the Chicago Park District and the University, the second of three public workshops about the Midway will take place tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Social Service Administration building, Room E1, 969 E. 60th St.
At the workshop, community members will have the opportunity to give feedback after designers unveil their first set of ideas for developing gardens, bridges and pathways on the Midway.
Designs are well underway for the installation of a permanent skating rink and adjacent warming house, which will be the first building constructed on the Midway since the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Construction will begin this spring, and the rink will open next winter.
This is a critical and exciting project, especially because we have such a high standard for the quality of this building, said Hank Webber, Vice President of Community Affairs.
Donated by the University, the two-level warming house, a 2,800-square-foot building, will contain a café and restrooms, skate rental desk and observation deck. It will appear only 12-feet high at street level, maintaining the sweeping lines of the Midways boulevards originally designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1871.
Architects Jim Nagle and Don McKay of Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Architects Planners Ltd. designed the warming house to serve the community year-round.
During warm weather, the house can function as an outdoor café, and the rink can accommodate in-line skating and musical or theatrical performances. Plans for a community advisory board to address recreational activities for the site are in process.
The Park District will provide the skating rink, equipment and staff to operate and maintain the facility. The rink and warming house will be located in the center of the Midway between the Law School and Harper Memorial Library.
Our sincere hope is to see the revitalization of a great public park that will serve the students and the people of Woodlawn, Hyde Park and the greater South Side as an active, attractive space all year long, said Webber.