Results 1-10of 14 Reviews
Durham, North Carolina
August 2, 2006
The park has an outdoor concert pavilion (all shows are free), a terraced garden, several large fountains, the huge Buckingham fountain, a playing pool, and of course the "Bean".
The concerts are great, often including famous and nationally touring artists, in addition to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (one of the best in the world). The terraced garden can be relaxing if the weather permits, but often it is very hot in downtown Chicago. The fountains are very pretty. In addition you can see "the Bean" a mirror-shined metal sculpture which melts the sky with the earth you stand on. This very fun to see and play around.
There is also the Millennium Park walkway, which is a metal/architectural stairway/walkway.
Also try to see the Facial fountains, which I described above.
From journal My Times in Chicago
September 25, 2004
First conceived in 1997 and completed in July, 2004, this wondrous combination of architecture, art, and landscape design occupies 24.5 acres in the northwest corner of Grant Park. It features an outdoor concert venue, a theatre for performing arts, a sweeping pedestrian bridge, numerous walkways, promenades, outdoor sculptures, and a garden.
Chicagoans enjoy the Great Lawn and Frank Gehry’s stunning Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Anchoring the park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a stunningly beautiful outdoor concert venue designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Ribbons of stainless steel envelop the band shell, twisting and twirling 120 feet in the air, then connect to an overhead trellis made of intersecting steel pipes that stretch over the lawn seating area. More than 100 speakers suspended from the trellis insure that those seated on the 95,000 square foot lawn enjoy the same sound quality as those occupying the pavilion’s 4,000 fixed seats. Even the lawn incorporates high tech measures, and is designed to drain within 10 to 15 minutes after a hard rain.
The pavilion is truly a sight to behold in person. A photograph, even a great one, can’t do this architectural achievement the justice it deserves. We were content to just stand there and look at it for several minutes, never mind being fortunate enough to see a performance here. Time and time again we'd start to walk away, only to turn around to look at it again.
Crown Fountain’s watery light and video show is a big hit.
Designed by sculptor Jaume Plensa, Crown Fountain combines glass, water, light, and video to put on a spectacular show. The two 50-foot glass block towers change colors and video images as water cascades in torrents from their tops. The facing panel of each block shows a close-up video of one of 1,000 faces. The faces, all Chicagoans, change at roughly thirteen minute intervals. Dozens of kids (and some adults) splash around in the shallow reflecting pool between the two blocks. The fountain draws large crowds, especially at night.
Millennium Park visitors and the Chicago skyline are captured in the reflective sculpture by Anish Kapoor.
Cloud Gate, an elliptical sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor, located on SBC Plaza, has probably become the most photographed spot in the city. The 110-ton sculpture, which has been dubbed The Bean by locals, is formed from highly polished, stainless-steel plates. The curved surface of the plates reflects people, nearby buildings, and the sky and in mirror-like detail. Visitors numbering in the hundreds gather around and underneath the sculpture, which measures 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and 42 feet wide, staring, waving at their reflection, and snapping photos.
Curved lines of the stainless steel-clad BP Bridge.
BP Bridge, a 925-foot pedestrian bridge clad in stainless steel panels, is the first bridge designed by Gehry. Its slithery shape acts as a sound buffer to protect the Pritzker Pavilion from traffic noise. Its gentle slope and hardwood deck makes for an enjoyable, lazy stroll over Columbus Drive between Millennium Park and the eastern edge of Grant Park.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of all was discovering Family Album, the outdoor exhibit by German-born, Paris-based photographer Ewe Ommer on display in Wrigley Square. Over the course of four years beginning in 1996, Ommer traveled the world photographing families, from laborers to teachers to heads of state. Every corner of the globe you can imagine is represented, and each oversized photograph is accompanied by a brief text. In it, Ommer describes how he met the family, and perhaps what each person does for a living, or what the children study in school. Often the family will talk about their dreams and aspirations, or what keeps them together.
Ewe Ommer’s internationally acclaimed outdoor exhibition Family Album at Wrigley Square.
This thought provoking exhibit sucks you in. We looked at a few photos and read the accompanying text. Before we knew it we’d read at least fifty or sixty of the 103 placards on display. If Ommer’s objective was to remind everyone of the strong bonds of family, and that all of us perhaps have more in common with each other than less, then he accomplished what he set out to achieve.
From the moment it opened, Millennium Park instantly emerged as one of the premiere outdoor creations in the world, and one that should be the envy of every city. Unless it’s the absolute dead of winter (and maybe even then), it should be at the very top of your list of must-see Chicago attractions.
From journal Back to that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago
August 25, 2005
I motioned for my friend to stop, and we stood in the heart of Millennium Park, the summer evening soft and cool around us. The steady chirp of crickets rose into the air, loud enough to nearly drown the sound of traffic less than a block away. For a moment, I was transported back to the porches of my suburban youth, listening to the sound of cicadas on the New England night.
"Can you believe we're hearing that sound, in the absolute heart of downtown Chicago?"
Grinning, we continued towards the Crown Fountain.
Millennium Park encompasses some of the best of what Chicago is about: fulfilling one of the missing links in Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago, celebrating the city and the state, bringing art to all, and turning what was once an eyesore of the city into one of the city's most celebrated achievements.
When I first moved to Chicago in 1999, the area now known as Millennium Park was still open railroad tracks, an unsightly scar between the landmark "buildingscape" of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago skyline and the well-planned beauty of Grant Park. Five years later, the park opened in July 2004 - four years and more than $200 million over budget. (Millennium Park covers 24.5 acres at a cost of over $19 million per acre). But as Burnham himself said, "Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood," and even the most jaded of critics cannot help but be impressed what the city has created here.
Millennium Park is bordered by Columbus Drive, Randolph Street, Michigan Avenue, and Monroe Street, situated at the northwest corner of Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago. Although you can gain access to the park at many different locations, it's worth entering via the BP Bridge, which connects the Daley Bicentennial Plaza in northeastern Grant Park to the Great Lawn. The bridge is Frank Gehry's first bridge design, a 925-foot serpentine piece of sculpture that not only complements the neighboring pavilion, but helps act as a sound buffer against the passing traffic on Columbus Drive.
The park's most striking feature, the Frank Gehry-designed, award-winning Jay Pritzker Pavilion takes up most of the eastern half of the park.. This revolutionary outdoor venue features an overhead latticework of steel pipes, which is designed to help mimic the acoustics of a typical concern hall. The Great Lawn, which can seat 7,000 people (in addition to the 4,000 fixed seats), is specifically designed for maximum drainage after bad weather. The pavilion resembles giant silver metal ribbons and is particularly striking at night, when the metal is lit with constantly changing colors. The Great Lawn and Pavilion are remarkably well insulated from city traffic noises, so it is a wonderful place to take in a performance or just relax, with the magnificent city skyline rising behind the striking sculpted face of the pavilion.
The south end of the Great Lawn borders the Lurie Garden, which plays upon the city's motto, "Urbs in Horto" (City in a Garden). This public garden is rife with symbolism, but it is also rich with native Illinois fauna, showing off beds of prairie flowers and local varietals of trees. Over the next 10 years, the frames that current visitors see will become covered with foliage, much as you would see in European ornamental gardens.
Continuing counterclockwise around the park, you come to the Crown Fountain, located at the corner of Monroe and Michigan Avenue. The Fountain, designed by Jaume Plensa, consists of two 50-foot glass block towers that have LED displays on the inner-facing surfaces. Water constantly cascades over the top of the towers into a shallow basin. The 1,000 faces of local residents that are shown in a constant display (they change once every 5 minutes in random order) were photographed in 2003 by students of the Art Institute of Chicago. This unusual piece of public art quickly became a city favorite, because instead of simply being a place for reflection, such as the Reflective Pool on Washington, D.C.'s Mall is, it is a living artwork - and not simply because of the ever-changing faces. The plaza-level water basin is designed to hold an inch or two of water, and excess water is drained away through a narrow crack around the perimeter. There is no barrier of any kind, so people of all ages can frolic freely in the water - and they do, in droves, at all times of the day. In fact, the Paralyzed Veterans of America awarded the Fountain the 2005 Barrier-Free America Award.
Just north of the Crown Fountain, facing Michigan Avenue, is the Park Grill Restaurant and the neighboring Chicago Shop, and the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink. During the winter, visitors enjoy ice skating here, but in the warmer months, the rink becomes a spacious and popular outdoor seating area. The food at the Grill is pretty good, and if the weather permits, you’ll definitely enjoy sitting outside.
Rising above the roof of the plaza is the 110-ton sculpture called Cloud Gate, or, as it has been affectionately dubbed, "the Bean." Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public American artwork and consists of a stainless-steel plates that have been polished to create a seamless reflective surface. As of writing this (August ’05), Cloud Gate is still undergoing final polishing of its undersurface, so visitors will not actually be able to walk under the sculpture until this winter. Despite the delay in revealing the sculpture, it has quickly become one of the favorite symbols of the city, and one that you should expect to see show up often in photographs and films!
The Chase Promenade bisects the park from north to south, providing a tree-lined walkway designed to host festivals and exhibitions. Parallel to the Promenade, and running north and south of Cloud Gate, are the Boeing Galleries, which are designed to host public art exhibitions. Currently (through Oct 23, 2005), the Galleries and the Promenade are showcasing Terry Evans photographic essay, Revealing Chicago: An Aerial Portrait, a striking exhibit of 100 aerial photographs of the city and its environs. This is one of the best photography shows I’ve seen in Chicago, providing a fascinating perspective and beautifully vibrant photos.
There are two somewhat lesser-known features in the northeastern section of the park. The first is the bike station, which fits in with the city vision of making Chicago much more bike-friendly. Facilities here include heated indoor space for 300 bikes, as well as providing lockers, showers, a snack bar, bike repairs, and yes, bike rentals.
The other is the Joan and Irving Harris Theater for Music and Dance, which is situated on Randolph Street, on the north side of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion. This 1,525-seat theater provides a venue for a wide variety of the city’s music and dance groups.
Millennium Park is a milestone, not just for the city of Chicago, but for city planning everywhere. Whether you are a visitor or resident, it is well worth a visit to this spectacular urban park.
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Millennium Park’s operating hours are 6am to 11pm daily year-round; the parking garages below the park (access from Columbus Drive between Randolph and Monroe) are open 24 hours and offer one of the best deals for parking in the city: $12 for 12 hours or $16 for 24 hours. The park is easily accessed by numerous bus lines and is 1 block east of the Madison Street "L" line stop (orange, green, purple, blue lines) and 2 blocks east of the red line Washington "L" line stop, 3 blocks east of the blue line "L" Washington stop.
The welcome center is located at 201 E. Randolph St., in the Northwest Exelon Pavilion, adjacent to the Harris Theater and the Randolph Street Metra train station. Free informal 45-minute walking tours of the park are available through the welcome center 10am to 4pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Fridays during the summer. Additionally, you can rent a self-guided audio tour for the park through the Chicago shop or download it for your own MP3 player.
From journal As Scene in Chicago
July 28, 2004
Perhaps the most anticipated element of the complex is the Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, designed by Mr. Guggenheim Bilbao himself, architect Frank Gehry. He has one of the hottest hands in the world of architecture, and he shows it again with this gleaming structure featuring his trademark network of stainless steel panels. I have been privileged to watch this project slowly taking shape during its construction phase, and the final result is a welcome addition to the Chicago landscape. It may not be as exciting as the Guggenheim Bilbao, but this new band shell should still be appreciated as a nice derivative of Gehry’s original standard.
The pavilion looks like a giant metallic onion with its outer layers peeled off to reveal the beautiful state-of-the-art stage in its heart. The shells hovering above the stage have been compared to a headdress or silvery clouds. 4,000 red seats face the concert stage, backed with a Great Lawn that can hold another 7,000 people. A steel trellis that adds a sense of enclosure even though it is clearly an outdoor space tops the lawn. Speakers are attached to the trellis to spread the sound quality throughout the lawn area. Some have speculated that the trellis could eventually be hooded with a fabric roof for those not-so-nice days in the city, and such a dome may be an attractive result next to the grandiose Gehry pavilion.
Gehry also designed the BP Pedestrian Bridge. It connects Millennium Park with Daley Bicentennial Plaza by leaping over Columbus Drive, adding an extra connection to the lakefront. The bridge, Gehry’s first completed design of such a span, features similar stainless steel panels to act as an ensemble piece to the Pritzker Pavilion. The bridge is not a straight crossover, so it will frustrate those who like to go directly from Point A to Point B. It is more of a winding promenade path than a bridge, designed with several switchbacks that provide many opportunities to gaze at Gehry’s other creation from various angles. It is sculpturally serpentine and scaly, with imagery of a snake or the Mississippi River coming to mind. The bridge deck is composed of hardwood planks, a nice touch that should appeal to the many pedestrians who will utilize this structure.
(continued in Part 2)
From journal Bill at home in CHICAGO - Activities
July 27, 2006
From journal Quenching Travel Urges Without Leaving Chicago
July 17, 2006
From journal The Windy City in One Day!
July 27, 2004
The Park Shop is loaded with Millennium Park products! You will also find the usual tourist necessities of postcards, maps and guides; gifts, t-shirts and caps, spa products, stationary, and assorted souvenirs. For more discerning tastes, there are books on Chicago art, architecture, and history. Millennium Park architectural star, Frank Gehry has leased some limited-edition fine art and prints only to the Park Shops available for a high-end purchase.
A children's section is nestled in a brightly-lit corner that contains educational items and colorful books. Located directly outside is a designer kiosk with additional interactive souvenier items and toys. These are much more cheaply made, but only slightly less expensive than inside.
The shop is tiny and always seems busy being located in the midst of the food venues as well as a public restroom. But the interior design is neat and clean. The cool celadon walls invite you inside to peruse through the good displayed on the orderly white fixtures. The clerks are pleasant and quite helpful with the merchandise and directions, the displays kept crisp in spite of the high traffic, but the merchandise is, as expected, quite pricey.
At present, the Park Shop has a corner on the market for most Millennium Park related items with very steep price-tags. But I suspect in a few weeks, some of the surrounding retailers will begin to carry similar or identical items and the prices will be more reasonable throughout. But if I were a tourist, I would not go home with out my Millennium Park snow globe to all compliment the growing tacky-travel-kitsch on my shelf.
Store Hours: 9 am to 9pm daily (extended hours during Park events).
From journal MILLENNIUM PARK-CHICAGO "Make no little plans...”
Here are some Millennium Park attractions that may not be as high-profile but are worth a look nevertheless.
The Lurie Garden is still a work in progress, but its 2.5 acres are a peaceful place for a stroll. The variety of local and imported plantings is impressive. A miniature forest of trees acts as a hedge between the throngs of visitors and the delicate garden. In turn, the trees are safely fenced off from the crowds. The garden is bisected by a boardwalk and a little stream, but it sputters at its south end at Monroe Drive to look like a bad leak. Perhaps when it is fine-tuned the water will cascade over the edge to extend the presence of the park towards the Art Institute.
The Millennium Monument at Wrigley Square anchors the northwest corner of the site. It features a neoclassical curving colonnade of Doric columns that is reminiscent of a similar peristyle at this spot between 1917 and 1953. The peristyle cups a circular fountain that is quiet in comparison to its flamboyant cousin (the Plensa-designed multimedia Crown Fountain) and its famous granddaddy (the nearby Buckingham Fountain). Accept it for what it is, check out the list of donors engraved on the wall, and rest here if you are tired from enjoying the new urban playground of the city.
Just south of the new peristyle is the McCormick Tribune Plaza (keeping track of all the corporate sponsors?), which has a dual purpose depending on the season. In the summer it is utilized as an extension of the Park Grill Restaurant, which needs it for overflow alfresco crowds that frequently wait well over an hour for a table. In the winter the plaza is transformed into a popular ice skating rink.
The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance was designed by Thomas Beeby, the architect of the postmodern Harold Washington Library in the South Loop. This design is far less flamboyant, mainly in deference to the centerpiece Pritzker Pavilion. It is a minimalist building with a glassy front, though much of the 1,500 seat facility is built below ground. Climb the stairs to the outdoor deck for an alternative view of some parts of the park.
The Exelon Pavilions are basically glorified entrances to the underground parking garage, with one to be a visitor center. They employ solar panels for energy purposes. The two along Monroe Drive were designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, and they anticipate his annex to the Art Institute that will be built across the street within a few years. The pair along Randolph Drive was designed by Thomas Beeby, complementing the Harris Theater (they are scheduled to be completed this August).
The Bicycle Station was designed by David Steele of the firm Muller and Muller. It includes lockers, showers and other facilities to encourage more locals to ride bicycles downtown.
At Millennium Park the talk of the town is the new landmark sculpture called "Cloud Gate", although most people simply call it "the Bean" because it looks like a giant silvery jelly bean. This brilliant work was designed by Anish Kapoor, a London artist born in Bombay. His first work in the States has quickly become a favorite with the public, which is notoriously skeptical of anything new or original.
The stainless steel object is deceptively simple. At first glance it just looks like a big bean, but the fun begins as you approach it. The reflective convex surface becomes a giant funhouse mirror, so buildings across Michigan Avenue can now be viewed with a fresh perspective. Onlookers feel like part of the art as they see their reflections. The experience becomes even more intense once you walk beneath the sculpture through its "gate". The underside of the bean is more concave than one might expect so instead of a claustrophobic feeling, you feel liberated as you walk under here. The bizarre mirror effect is multiplied so everyone can see several reflections of themselves simultaneously. Play some Pink Floyd if you want to enhance this psychedelic experience. As marvelous as the enormous (66 feet long, 33 feet high, 42 feet wide, 110 tons) sculpture is already, it is to be fine-tuned a bit to remove some of the seams, which currently do not necessarily detract from the overall appearance. Once this is completed, this will be one really smooth bean. It will probably be quite a chore to maintain the sparkling surface of the sculpture.
The Crown Fountain is as far from typical as one can get. Conceived by Barcelona artist Jaume Plensa and designed with the local architecture firm Krueck and Sexton, this extraordinary project is virtually guaranteed to make any visitor smile.
The ensemble features two 50-foot-tall rectangular towers of glass block at either end of a black granite reflecting pool that acts as a wet plaza. On the inside surface of each of the towers, a face of a "typical" local is monumentally displayed. After the two video images face off for several minutes, they simultaneously "spit" a stream of water onto the plaza. Once these modern-day gargoyles are finished spewing water, the images disappear and cascades of water tumble down the towers as if an invisible bucket were dislodged from the top of a door. The cycle renews with another two portraits squaring off, and there are supposedly hundreds of these resident faces in the database. Kids and frisky adults enjoy frolicking in this urban water park. The glass towers are dramatically lit at night. Perhaps since this is the most "fun" part of Millennium Park, it will not be as critically acclaimed for its design. The Crown Fountain is public art that is as inclusive as it gets, and that is what should endear it to the hearts of Chicagoans.
(continued in Part 3)
September 23, 2002
If you want to hit the hottest spot in Chi-town right now-Moda is the place to be, but if you don't get in, don't feel bad-just have a backup plan.
Tip: If you want to get anywhere in this city besides a sports bar, guys, no jeans (unless they cost $800) and no gym shoes (no matter how much they cost).
From journal Sweet Home Chicago