Chicago Park District


Northerly Island Framework Plan

Chicago, Illinois

91-acre island, 37 hectares

Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning, Programming, Urban Planning and Design, Environmental Science

Award of Excellence -- Planning and Analysis, Award of Excellence -- Planning and Analysis, Great Places Award - Place Planning Category

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“. . .the Northerly Island Park plan could enrich the experience of Chicago’s great lakefront for generations to come.”

—Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune


Northerly Island represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring the transformative power of 21st century urban ecology to Chicago's renowned lakefront. A former airport adjacent to the city's Museum Campus, this man-made island is one of Chicago's last tracts of undeveloped open space on Lake Michigan.

Developed in collaboration with Studio Gang Architects, the award-winning plan establishes visionary goals for the park: create a benchmark urban destination exemplifying best practices in ecological sustainability and restoration.
To the north, visitors will enjoy a new amphitheater, a harbor walk, and an events pavilion, while the southern half of the park will reestablish native landscapes of prairie, woodland, marsh and savanna.

The park's boldest design element is a barrier reef complex to the southeast, creating a 50-acre freshwater lagoon ideal not only for recreation, but also for establishing new island ecosystems, including a perched wetland and fisheries habitat. When completed, Northerly Island will give Chicago a unique urban eco-park supporting its goal to be the “greenest city in the world."

Related Content

Northerly in Bloomberg Businessweek
Read this Jan. 2013 article on Northerly's design and the greening of Chicago.

Northerly Island Framework Plan
View a copy of the plan on the Chicago Park District's website.

Northerly Island Revamp Kicking Off
Chicago Journal article on Park District, Army Corps collaboration to implement first step of master plan.