Conrad Szajna

Conrad Szajna

Chicago, IL, US


Grand Island Master Plan

The focus of this project was the Grand Blue Line CTA stop which is located at the busy intersection of Halsted, Milwaukee and Grand. The larger area is blessed with an abundance of transportation access points such as the CTA line, the Metra Yellow line, the expressway and Hasted street which is one of the busiest streets in Chicago. With such easy access to the site, one would think this area is flourishing. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Though it may seem as a blessing, the infrastructure has been more of a curse for the area. By dissecting the area in many ways, what is left over are very unpleasant and unfriendly pedestrian conditions. The goal of this project was to treat this area as a 'city' in itself by creating high density conditions in terms of living and of public space.

When looking at the greater context, it became clear that the infrastructure dissected the area and created an 'island' like effect. This is the direction the project went it. The idea was to redevelop the area as unique self-sufficient Island-like oasis. The goal was to create a destination and a new identity that can be phased over a span of fifty years. In this case, the new neighborhood will be called “Grand Island' and will feature residential units of all sizes and typology that would ring the exterior of the perimeter beginning at grade at the north-east corner near the river gradually increases in size until it reaches its full height around forty stories tall at the north-west corner, where it extends to the I90 expressway, and then quickly wrapping around and decreasing in size to the south until it reaches four stories above grade. The interior of this development would be designated as the 'public' realm and would be given over to plaza space, active areas and leisure grounds and parks.

Overall, the project breaks up into four quadrants with the north-east corner (river) featuring more aquatic functions; the north-west corner (expressway) including more large store areas; the south-west corner (neighborhood) featuring more civic amenities and finally at the south-east corner(industrial) featuring more offices and business spaces. The interior public spaces would intertwine and merge al the functions seamlessly together. A street car will be introduced into the overall scheme and will begin at the south-west corner and travel east on Grand Ave. until it reaches the lake.

Unique neighborhoods are what make the city of Chicago as great as it is. The transportation node for this project was in an area that had no clear identity and therefore lacked the cohesiveness of a real neighborhood and because of this, the area struggled. However, the result from this project proposal does its best to create another identity that can be added to Chicago's long list of neighborhoods. The hope is to revive the area into a heavily landscaped public space to combat the lack of public space and park space within the city.

This proposal aims to, as they say, 'kill two birds with one stone'.

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Status: School Project
Location: Chicago, IL, US