Pavilion to close for repairs

August 10, 2009 3:42:09 PM PDT
Two temporary pavilions in Millennium Park just aren't tough enough to take the public's affection.The pavilions- by Amsterdam architect Ben van Berkel and London architect Zaha Hadid- were installed to celebrate the 100th year of the Burnham Plan, which outlined the design for the city of Chicago.

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  • Since van Berkel's design opened on June 19, much damage has been done by people visiting the pavilion. Skateboards have left tracks and the plywood is showing through the once glossy white surface. During the Fourth of July holiday, the pavilion was closed because people were climbing up to the flat roof to watch fireworks.

    Hadid's design just opened last week- but already there are footprints on the fabric.

    The van Berkel pavilion will close on Tuesday, August 11 for four days. After the repairs, more security will be added to keep climbers off of them. And, the van Berkel's smooth curves may get a slippery finish to keep shoes from gripping. Plus, 'do not climb' signs are under consideration.

    "I think it's a shame that the public damaged it like that," said Marge Darcey, park visitor.

    "People get a running start and jumping against it and that's caused the finish to crack," said Emily Harris, executive director of the Burnham Plan Centennial.

    The Burnham Plan Centennial paid $1.5 million to build the two pavilions in honor of the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham's plan for Chicago.

    "We're delighted they love it as much as they do. We're hoping they'll love it more gently," said Jon Pounds, Chicago Public Art Group.

    It's a victim of its own success. The crowned fountain invites people to literally jump in and get more than their hands wet. It used to be public art was something we were supposed to just look at. Now the Hadid pavilion seems to invite to us touch it. Pounds says despite the damage, this artistic experiment has paid off teaching us the limits of interactivity.

    "I think it's a success exactly because it's testing our own limits. It's testing our own social engagement to understand what's possible and in a way, I don't mind the people climb on things. I hate that they destroy them," said Pounds.

    Millennium Park is home to Chicago's much loved sculpture Cloud Gate, known as The Bean, and the Crown Fountain. Both of those are interactive and, therefore, people are encouraged to get up close and, in the case of the fountain, play in the water.


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