Everyone knows Chicago is a fun regional destination during the summer, but what happens when the Midwestern winter hits? Looking to make Maggie Daley Park an attraction for visitors year round, the Chicago Park District worked with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (with Stantec as the ice consultant), to develop a unique vision for the downtown waterfront park.
A quarter-mile ice ribbon—the largest in the US—winds through the park landscape, emulating the form of the adjacent pedestrian bridge. The ribbon features gentle grades, adding additional dimension to the skating experience and blending into the contours of the park.
Much of the ribbon is built atop lightweight foam fill to minimize loads on the existing parking structure below the Maggie Daley. Designed for skating from November through early March, the system incorporates multiple cooling zones to provide a series of refrigerated segments that relieve thermal stresses. In the summer, the ice ribbon transforms into a pathway around three tall climbing structures.
A large, centrally-located, environmentally friendly refrigeration plant uses downtown cooling district water for condensation. The plant is concealed from view by one of the climbing structures.