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Saturday, in the Park…

Years ago, the Chicago-born rock group “Chicago” had a sit single “Saturday, in the Park”.  It described what was seemingly an idyllic weekend day in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.  These kinds of days happen all the time in Chicago, witness this last weekend.

Cloud Gate, otherwise known as 'The Bean"
Cloud Gate, otherwise known as ‘The Bean”

Friends from Toronto called the night before.  They had just flown in and hoped to meet up. Their plan was to take a leisurely morning stroll around Graceland Cemetery, completely unknowing about the Chicago Cubs baseball game next door at Wrigley Field, or even the Air and Water Show.  I warned them, and they though that this was unusual.  We agreed to touch base later in the day.

The Illinois Saint Andrew Society had their wrap up meeting of the Highland Games Committee, over breakfast.  From my vantage point as Chairman of the British Car Show, we talked a lot about the weather, the flooded fields, and the success of the show despite nature’s wrath. 

The Province of Nova Scotia invited me to attend their private reception at Irish Fest in Milwaukee.  The Nova Scotians are awfully nice folks, even for a prairie kid like me.  Though I really like Nova Scotia, I must admit that I’ve never been there.  My parents were great fans of the CBC television show, “Don Messer’s Jubilee”, broadcast from Halifax, perhaps that counts.  I hope that they’ll invite me back for their reception at Celtic Fest in Chicago.

More than a million people descended on the lakefront for the Air & Water Show.  I kept thinking back to our visitors from Toronto, who were taking the same el line that those million people would be taking to the show, as well as all the crowds partaking the Cubs game; again, on the same el line.  Game Day at Wrigley is kind of like a giant street party.  Apparently, there’s a baseball game that happens during the party, the throngs are simply out having a good time.

Heard back from my visitors, they chose to spend the afternoon inside conditioned air at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Good choice. They acknowledged my advice about the crowds at Wrigley.

It was one of the few dry days we’ve had in a while, and despite everything going on during a typical weekend (wasn’t it Lollapalooza last weekend?) the mundane things never let up.  Yard work and my tomato plants were finally showing signs of ripening.

Zaha Hadid designed Burnham Pavilion
Zaha Hadid designed Burnham Pavilion

We managed to meet up at the Burnham Pavilions at Millennium Park.  Last time I was there was at the dedication reception, coincidentally held during the nasty storm that reeked havoc on the Highland Games. Although the pavilion designed by UN Studio of the Netherlands was complete, the Zaha Hadid pavilion was not.  It was now, and the time to see these pavilions are at night. 

Crown Fountain at Millenium Park
Crown Fountain at Millenium Park

Reynar Banham once described a concept of “the architecture of energy” – not counting every last watt or joule of energy and finding ways to conserve, but rather defining architecture by energy.  The Burnham Pavilions at night – even the rest of Millennium Park – are great examples.   The Bean was shining profusely in the dull light. Both Burnham Pavilions were kaleidoscopic in nature.  The Crown Fountain was alive with shadows of children playfully running through the water on a hot, muggy night.

The city between the earth and sky
The city between the earth and sky

I’m still taken by the UN Studio’s Burnham Pavilion.  Despite being designed in Europe, it’s a very prairie display of the earth and the sky, and the city that grew in between.

Posted in Architecture, Pop Culture, Travel, Urban Planning.