Located between Chicago’s lakefront and the central business district (the loop), Millennium Park is a multi-award winning 24.5-acre public park with venues for performance, art, sculpture, architecture, and landscape architecture.
When Mayor Richard M. Daley first announced a plan to transform the plot bounded by Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, and Randolph and Monroe Streets from an eyesore into a civic attraction on March 30, 1998, the design, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, called for a pleasant but bland park with a performance stage, all on top of a parking garage.
Daley projected a cost of $150 million and an opening date of midsummer 2000 – hence the “Millennium” in the name. He envisioned a mixture of public and private financing, with bonds against potential revenue from the parking garage and money from a Central Loop TIF fund joining the contributions of private donors to build the park. The park would be built “at no cost to taxpayers,” the mayor promised.
(TIF, or tax increment financing, is a tool meant to promote economic development in a specific area of the city.)
Unfortunately, it was mainly this expansion of scope and the commissioning of prominent artists that delayed the park and drove up the costs from Daley’s original estimate.
Though it opened four years late and cost $340 million more than the original plan, the delay—and the investment— proved more than worth while. When Millennium Park finally opened on July 16, 2004, it transformed an industrial wasteland into Chicago’s showplace for cutting-edge art, architecture, landscape design, music and more.
One of the features that truly makes the design of Millennium Park so special—and what might come as a surprise to many of you— is that the entirety of the park is actually a green roof.
Yes, you read that correctly. The massive scape of extravagant art, architecture, and design in the center of the windy city is actually a green roof. More specifically, as it sits at grade over the parking garage, it is considered an over-structure greenroof.
Considered to be the largest intensive green roof project in the world, hidden under this spectacular 24.5-acre landscape is parking for 2500 cars, retail space, a bus lane, and train operations held up by a highly engineered support system. For a project of this size and magnitude, the construction of Millennium Park was completed in phases using several different waterproofing contractors and suppliers.
Naturally, keeping these vast underground facilities dry was critical to the designers and owner.
After serious consideration, project specifiers selected Barrett’s RamTough 250DM Hot Fluid Applied Rubberized Asphalt Waterproofing System due to its decades of proven performance under similar conditions.
RamTough 250 is a thermoplastic, rubberized asphalt membrane that forms a completely monolithic waterproof system without seams or joints, adhering to horizontal and vertical surfaces. Melted on site, it is spread to a 90 mil thickness, reinforced with polyester scrim, and over coated with a 125 mil thick topcoat of RamTough 250 which fuses through the polyester to the bottom coat.
RamTough 250 sets instantly and remains flexible for the duration of its life. Not designed to perform as a permanently exposed surface, RamTough 250 should be protected: insulation, special coatings, cap sheets, and Barrett Greenroof-Roofscapes® are among the many options available.
Kedmont Waterproofing Co. and the Barrett RamTough 250DM waterproofing systems were selected for several phases of the construction process. One of the more significant of these phases involved waterproofing the renowned Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
The park officially opened on July 16, 2004 with a concert at Pritzker Pavilion by the Grant Park Orchestra featuring a world premiere piece by John Corigliano commissioned for the occasion. Recognized for its eclectic style and architectural design, the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the centerpiece of Millennium Park.
The massive bandshell and proclaimed “Work of Art” boasts 4,000 fixed seats plus additional lawn seating for 7,000 and is the home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival, the nation’s only remaining free outdoor classical music series. It also hosts a wide range of music series and annual performing arts events. Performers ranging from mainstream rock bands to classical musicians and opera singers have appeared at the pavilion, which even hosts physical fitness activities such as yoga.
And beneath all of that vast space, ensuring that such a beautiful space can continue to serve the people of Chicago, is Barrett’s RamTough 250DM Hot Fluid Applied Rubberized Asphalt Waterproofing System.
Awards & Accolades
Among many others, Millennium Park received the 2006 Excellence in Irrigation Honor Award from the American Society of Irrigation Consultants and the 2005 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Awards of Excellence in the Intensive Industrial/Commercial category. Visit the Millennium Park website listed below for the entire list of the numerous individuals involved with its complex design and construction.