Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown is an interactive fountain composed of two 50-foot glass-brick towers, with mixed media united by a black granite pool. The towers project video images of Chicago citizens, each of whom spout water at intervals like nymphs – a symbol of the flow of life – to the squeals of children and adults. The fountain’s water features operate during the year between mid-spring and mid-fall, while the images remain on view year-round.
Designed by superstar architect Renzo Piano, the four Exelon Pavilions, which turn solar energy into electricity, are an integral part of Chicago’s efforts to become the most environmentally-friendly city in North America. Together, they provide enough electricity annually to power 14 star-rated energy-efficient houses in Chicago. The northwest and northeast pavilions are minimalist black cubes that look like the obelisks from “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The northwest pavilion houses the Millennium Park Welcome Center, along with an Exelon energy display area.
151 E. Upper Randolph and 201 E. Upper Randolph
Designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel, this five-acre garden pays homage to the City’s motto, “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden), which is a shout out to Chicago’s transformation from its flat and marshy origins to a bold and powerful city. Highlights of the garden include the dramatically lit, 15-foot-high “shoulder” hedge, an homage to Carl Sandburg’s famous description of the “City of Big Shoulders”. A graceful hardwood footbridge over shallow water divides the garden diagonally between “light” and “dark” plates.
A perfect segue between work and home, architect Frank Gehry’s 2004 outdoor concert theater is the setting for more than 100 free concerts, films and programs – most starting right after work. Our favorite is the Downtown Sound series on Monday where you can catch the likes of Andrew Bird, the Besnard Lakes or Iron & Wine without paying for a wrist band. During the summer, the historic Grant Park Music Festival (begun in 1935) presents 30 classical concerts over the course of 10 weeks, and then there’s the outdoor movies where jazz-hands musicals and comedies rule the roost. And don’t even get us started about Lollapalooza just down the street.
201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601