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Union Station To Get Play Areas Featuring Tetherball, Bocce

 "Blah Blah Blob!" and "trainYARD" will set up 10-day "placemaking" sites in Union Station.
Activate Union Station Winners
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THE LOOP — Trips through Union Station are about to get a lot more playful.

Activate Union Station announced the winners of their "placemaking" contest Tuesday: Both plans call for a 10-day installation of whimsical, child-friendly play areas meant to draw commuters off the beaten path in the historic building at 500 W. Jackson Blvd.

Chicago-based architecture and planning firm Latent Design's "Blah Blah Blob!" will be installed in the Plaza at Fifth Third Center, and "trainYARD," submitted by a Chicago-based team of architects, will be constructed in the Great Hall.

"We're hoping that this contest is sort of a stepping stone where we hope to open up people's eyes in terms of what the space has potential for," said Kara Riggio, an associate with the Metropolitan Planning Council, which organized the contest.

"Blah Blah Blob!" will construct a giant nylon tent "reminiscent of a children's parachute tent or inflatable playpen" over an artificial turf, where they'll host a series of lectures during the structure's 10-day installation.

In the Great Hall, trainYARD will also employ synthetic grass to host picnic tables and traditionally "outdoor" activities, like bocce and tetherball.

Both teams will receive $5,000 from Fifth Third Bank to make their pitches a reality. "Blah Blah Blob!" and "trainYARD" were chosen from 25 applicants via a public vote.

"Our longer-term goal is bringing in more businesses, similar to Union Station in D.C. and Philadelphia, so there's more of a permanency in the activity there," Riggio said.

The installations will be in place from Aug. 24 to Sept. 2 in the Great Hall and the Plaza at Fifth Third Center.

Fitness Formula Clubs will also host free fitness sessions during the 10-day installation. Visit the Metropolitan Planning Council's website for a full schedule.