Ping Tom Memorial Park Boathouse
Specialties: Site Development
Years: 2012 - 2013
Location: Chicago, IL
Size: 17.24 acres
Award: ACEC-IL Engineering Excellence, 2014
Ping Tom Memorial Park is a 17.24-acre public urban park located in Chicago’s Chinatown. The park, located along the Chicago River’s south branch, was constructed on the remnants of the long abandoned Santa Fe rail yard. In 1953, the rail yard peaked in size and the site consisted of more than 12 rail lines constructed to the river’s edge. Over the last half century, the train yard and tracks have largely been decommissioned; tracks were removed, buildings, freight docks and turn tables were demolished, leaving the site prime for dumping and waste.
Since 1991, the Chicago Park District, working alongside the Chicago Chinese Community, has been purchasing the vacant and neglected land and transforming it to open public park used for serenity and play. In late 2011, newly-elected Mayor Emanuel announced ambitious plans to transform Chicago’s long neglected river into the city’s next frontier. Part of this plan included building boathouses to increase recreational activities. The sites were chosen to align with Chicago Department of Transportation plans in order to provide improved river access to pedestrians and bicyclists. The Ping Tom Memorial Park Boathouse was the first of three constructed along the Chicago River.
The Ping Tom Boathouse site consists of a one-story building and an outdoor plaza featuring a metal canopy, a series of pathways and ramps to the floating dock, site lighting, paving, and landscaping. TERRA provided site/civil engineering services, including grading, utility planning, designing ADA-compliant sidewalks and ramps, and close coordination with the project team in order to ensure all of the project goals were met.