Formerly the site of an old infirmary, this 1.4-acre park in the West Loop community features design elements that combine a sense of history with modern, innovative design elements. Three strong, diagonal paths intersect in this one block park to create distinct, programmed zones.
These zones include a fountain plaza, a children’s play area, a sunken dog park, an open lawn area, a viewing hill and enclosed seating area.
At the fountain plaza, park patrons are greeted with five stainless steel gates at the northwest entry acting as a gateway to the park. Using only three gallons a minute, each of the gates emit a fine mist of vaporized water on hot Chicago days, cooling off families while immersing the area in a cloud.
The children’s play area offers ADA accessibility that allows for inventive, non-linear play without traditional play equipment. Dogs can enjoy their uniquely sunken dog park that is complete with a continuously filling, over-sized dog bowl, ramps, ledges, steps, and artificial canine grass to provide an exercise area. The viewing hill is up to six feet high and provides a stunning view of the entire park with a backdrop of the Chicago skyline. The enclosed seating area is surrounded with native landscaping that provides a contemplative space for the community, alongside the park’s largest planter beds raised up by weathering steel walls.
Embedded within the linear seat walls are architectural terracotta artifacts salvaged from the original building, referencing the history of the site. The park has been designed to capture all the stormwater on site by the main permeable paver paths and is stored on site.
Check out this segment on Mary Bartelme Park from the Chicago @ Play TV show.