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Southbank Park

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Neighborhood: South Loop

Address: Corner of Franklin and Harrison Streets

Hours to Visit: Daily between 11am-4pm

Project by: PORT

About Southbank Park:

On this site, for nearly a century beginning in the late 1800s, this 7-acre site along the South Branch of the Chicago River housed a four-story Chicago Great Western Freight warehouse – part of the infrastructure that established Chicago as a major shipping and manufacturing hub. Featuring a simple, efficient design, the warehouse interfaced directly with river freight boats on the west side and cargo trains on the east, adjacent to Grand Central Station, which operated on the site between 1890 and 1969. 

By the middle of the 20th century, river freight and warehousing declined in favor of interstate highway trucking, ultimately leading to the demolition of the warehouse and Grand Central Station in 1970. With no communal, food, or infrastructure purpose, the site sat vacant – or “available” – for the next 40 years, despite its prominent location in the heart of downtown Chicago, immediately south of the Loop.

Lendlease acquired the site in 2015 and developed plans for Southbank, a community-centric master plan comprising four towers centered around a 2-acre public green space known as Southbank Park. Perkins&Will did the master plan and designed the first residential tower, The Cooper, which was completed in 2018. Lendlease broke ground on the second, The Reed, which Perkins&Will also designed, in the summer of 2021. Although privately developed and maintained by Lendlease, both the park and its adjacent riverwalk are designed as amenities for neighbors in the surrounding community. Reflecting the evolution of the river from an industrial waterway to one of recreation, the accessible riverwalk features a viewing platform, seating areas, and natural stone amphitheater, the latter of which was created using lannon stone that was salvaged from the old foundation of the Grand Central Station terminal. Hoerr Schaudt and Wolff (now Confluence) has provided landscape design to-date for the public space and riverwalk.

About Lendlease:

Lendlease is a leading global real estate group with operations in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The firm’s purpose is to create value through places where communities thrive. 

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Lendlease has approximately 9,500 employees internationally.  

Lendlease’s core capabilities are reflected in its operating segments of Development, Construction, and Investments. The combination of these three segments provides the firm with a sustainable competitive advantage and allows it to provide innovative integrated solutions for customers. The company’s integrated approach means it harnesses team expertise in infrastructure, design, development, investments, and management to deliver a project from conception to completion.  

In the US, Lendlease Development brings over 60 years of global experience to bear in urbanization, communities, and infrastructure development. Leveraging its placemaking expertise and integrated business model, the company is committed to delivering transformational urbanization projects and investments in gateway cities that generate social, environmental, and economic value. 

About Perkins&Will:

Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values—design excellence, diversity and inclusion, living design, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability, and well-being—the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world. Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture, and industry rankings consistently place Perkins&Will among the world’s top design practices. With an international team of more than 2,000 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing integrated services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Partners include Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen; retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; sustainable transportation planning consultancy Nelson\Nygaard; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit www.perkinswill.com.

Past Events

River Frames Activation Day at Southbank Park

23 Oct, 2021
Southbank Park
Site Activations

Biennial Projects

River Frames
PORT