South Loop to get fieldhouse, indoor playground facilities
July 3, 2009

The South Loop fieldhouse will be child-friendly. (Photo courtesy of Farr Associates Architecture)

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By Marie Balice Ward | July 2009

Plans are moving forward for a long awaited South Loop Chicago Park District (CPD) fieldhouse and indoor playground, to be housed at an existing structure at 18th Street and Indiana Avenue. The building also holds the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum (NVVAM) on the third floor and Café Society on the first floor.

“We are fortunate, with the State Legislature providing assistance, that we can proceed with park, school, street, and lighting projects,” stated Second Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti at a recent meeting to get community input on the fieldhouse and playground. Fioretti said public comments about design and potential use have been incorporated into the new plans by the architects, Farr Associates. Jonathan Boyer, principal, and Jeff Kocinski, architect, represented the firm at the meeting.

The project will occur in phases, beginning with reconstructing the first floor; that piece should wrap up this January. Workers already have started creating the first floor’s indoor playground, which was designed for toddlers and youngsters up through age five. The first floor also will house two clubrooms for use by the community and by teens and preteens in CPD programs, said Kocinski.

Harold Baines of the CPD launched a steering committee that evening “to determine if programs should be scheduled, or should the space be used for general play,” he said. Also representing the CPD was Bob Foster, project manager. Both noted the entire facility will be open to the public and not restricted to the immediate community.

As for parking, the CPD is looking at a nearby Department of Children and Family Services garage for that purpose.

Workers will build additional clubrooms on the building’s other floors; they will accommodate various uses, ranging from meeting sites to exercise rooms, explained Boyer.

Farr Associates’ design includes a fitness center on the second floor as well as a combined exercise room and dance studio. The steering committee will consider options for fitness equipment.

As the final phase, after NVVAM relocates in about three years, workers will turn the third floor into a special event area with extensive multi-purpose space suitable for rentals that includes a kitchen, coat check area, bar, restrooms, and storage spaces.

Foster also announced that CPD has acquired the Chicago Women’s Park, immediately adjacent to the future home of the South Loop fieldhouse. Officials have not developed plans yet for making any changes in the park, he noted.

One Response »

  1. Great, the south loop gets a fieldhouse and an indoor playground, while over here on the near west side we have to fight to get the basics, like a grocery store. We have to fight for safe housing, we have to fight not to glamourize felons, we have to fight to get CHA to play by the rules…we just have to fight. Ahhh…to only dream of a new playground, much less indoors….in fact to only dream of a safe playground where drug dealers don’t rule it. To quote Man of Lamancha…to dream the impossible dream….

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