Chicago, IL, September 5, 2013 – SmithGroupJJR and Studio Gang Architects, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, have been awarded a 2013 Great Places Award by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) for their development of the Northerly Island Framework Plan.

An ambitious vision to transform Chicago’s renowned lakefront, the Northerly Island Framework Plan will create a benchmark urban destination exemplifying best practices in ecological sustainability and restoration. The 91-acre, man-made island, a former airport adjacent to the city's Museum Campus, is one of Chicago's last tracts of undeveloped open space on Lake Michigan. The EDRA jury noted that “the plan defines a place of significant meaning historically, socially, and environmentally” and “reinforces Chicago’s leading position as a ‘green’ city.”

The framework establishes four major zones transitioning from urban/ active to natural/ passive use, and from woodland to waterfront ecology. On the island’s northern side, visitors will enjoy a new amphitheater, harbor walk and an events pavilion. On the southern half, native landscapes of prairie, woodland, marsh and savanna will be reestablished, along with a reef-protected lagoon. Initial construction of the park’s southern ecosystems commenced in spring 2013.

“Northerly Island will give Chicago a unique, urban eco-park that brings the city and its lakefront together in a holistic way,” said Deb Mitchell, FASLA, LEED AP, a leader of SmithGroupJJR’s Community practice. Mitchell is widely recognized for her leadership in the design of downtown Dallas’ Sammons Park at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The EDRA Great Places Awards recognizes exemplary projects in architecture, planning, landscape architecture and urban design. The 2013 awards, given to a total of seven projects across the U.S., occurred at EDRA’s annual conference on June 1.