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Old Posted Jul 11, 2006, 11:51 AM
Chi_Coruscant Chi_Coruscant is offline
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Location: Chicago
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Millennium-Art Institute bridge gets public airing

July 11, 2006

BY KEVIN NANCE Architecture Critic

The Art Institute of Chicago's proposed $25 million bridge would soar above Monroe Street between Michigan and Columbus in the summer of 2009, connecting Millennium Park with the museum's new Modern Wing.

It would be 620 feet long and 15 feet wide. It would be 23 feet above grade as it begins to cross over Monroe, and 30 feet high at the point of its junction with the museum.

And unlike the park's BP bridge, it would be open year-round, thanks to a heating system that would melt any ice or snow that accumulates on its aluminum floor.

Art Institute and Millennium Park officials doled out these and other tidbits about the bridge, which was first announced last year, at a Monday night meeting of the Grant Park Conservancy and the Grant Park Advisory Council. The event was one of a series of meetings with community groups at which the museum hopes to build support for the bridge before seeking final city approval for the project later this summer.

"We're excited about the opportunity to connect these two great cultural institutions in Chicago," said Meredith Mack, the Art Institute's vice president of operations.

Response mostly positive

If Monday's meeting is any indication, the museum appeared to have little to worry about. Reaction to the bridge, which would start at the southwestern edge of the Pritzker Pavilion's Great Lawn and end up on the Modern Wing's third-floor sculpture terrace, was mostly positive.

The Grant Park Conservancy's Bob O'Neill, for example, hailed the plan for the views it would offer pedestrians of the city, the lakefront and the Michigan Avenue streetwall. "You can't get those views from anywhere else," he said. "I think it'll be incredibly well-used and a huge success."

Millennium Park's Ed Uhlir agreed, noting that the bridge will offer a spectacular and currently unavailable view of the park's Lurie Garden, which slopes down toward Monroe.

A minority opinion came from downtown resident Greg Reid, who lives in the nearby Harbor Point Condominiums, which overlooks the park. Reid said he was concerned about the bridge's potential to obstruct views of and from the lake, and about the broader issue of overcrowding and noise in the vicinity of the park.

"A lot of people do live here in the neighborhood," he said. "I don't want to turn Grant Park into Navy Pier, where people come down to party all the time."
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