Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Reimagining Landscape as City Infrastructure


Chicago / Illinois / USA


Studio Gang Architects


Lincoln Park Zoo


Completed June 2010

The project transforms a picturesque urban pond from the 19th century into an ecological habitat buzzing with life. With the design’s improvements to water quality, hydrology, landscape, accessibility, and shelter, the site is able to function as an outdoor classroom in which the co-existence of natural and urban surroundings is demonstrated.

A new boardwalk circumscribing the pond passes through various educational zones that explicate the different animals, plants, and habitat found in each. A pavilion integrated into the boardwalk sequence provides shelter for open-air classes on the site. Inspired by the tortoise shell, its laminated structure consists of prefabricated, bent-wood members and a series of interconnected fiberglass pods that give global curvature to the surface.


2011 Best Small Structure Award (Magnusson Klemencic), Structural Engineers Association of Illinois

2011 Honor Award, Distinguished Building, AIA Chicago

2011 American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum

2010 Innovative Design Award, WoodWorks

2010 Patron of the Year (Lincoln Park Zoo), Chicago Architecture Foundation


Selected Publications

“The Cook, the Prospector, the Nomad and Their Architect” by Jeanne Gang
in Reinventing Construction (Berlin: Ruby Press, 2010)

2010 Dec 10, Chicago Tribune
"From the tallest tower to a vibrant urban park, the best architecture of 2010"

2010 Oct 29, GOOD Magazine
"Chicago's Studio Gang: Architecture With the Environment Built In"

2010 Sept 22, The New York Times
"36 Hours in Chicago"

2010 Sept 11, Azure
"Jeanne Gang's brilliant pavilion for a Chicago zoo"

2010 Aug 22, Dezeen.com
"Movie by Spirit of Space: South Pond by Studio Gang"


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