Architect: C.F. Murphy Associates, S.Z. Gladych + Perkins and Will
Year realisation: 1972
Location: Chicago, USA
Elements: fountain, stairs, sunken plaza, clock, mosaic artwork
Materials: grey granite, water, greenery
The Exelon Plaza is part of the Chase Tower, known for its curved shape. The plaza is paved in light grey granite and partly sunken in the ground. The lower level contains a fountain, which like the Paley Park in New York overwhelms the sound of the city above. The fountain has a rectangular shape set within a shallow stepped basin. The street level part contains greenery, a mosaic wall named ‘Four Seasons’ by Marc Chagall and a bronze clock.
The Chase Tower merges in an almost natural way with the plaza, by using the same materials. Once you’re at the lower level, the plaza provides the already impressive tower an even more powerful, strong and elegant authority. By only using the grey granite the park experience is very calm, which is a nice contrast to the hectic workday. The greenery gives the plaza a small touch of nature and works nice with the granite. Completely enclosed by walls, the lower level gives you the opportunity to relax for a moment.
Seen in a city planning perspective the Exelon Plaza has also the function to reduce the density of the streets around the Chase Tower. To create this plaza, they had to demolish first a building which stood at the place of the Exelon Plaza right now.
62 High Space – considering a part of your park is sunken, the street level would become a high space, only overlooking the sunken parts. Interesting feeling.
71 Still water – central water basin including a fountain.
88 Street café – there is a café, not in use when I was there. Could create a nice environment, no view on street life.
106 Positive outdoor space – this sunken plaza creates a positive outdoor space. Surrounded by grey granite walls give you an enclosed feeling far away from Chicago’s busy city sounds.
114 Hierarchy of open space – packed between the vertical experience of the skyscrapers in Chicago this is a positive open space in the rhythm of skyscrapers. Once you notice this more open space you want to go there.
120 Paths and goals – as written above, the plaza attracts you. If you are closer you led in a very simple, but direct way towards the central fountain. This is the place where the plaza shows her best qualities.
125 Stair seats – stairs are used for seating.