LINCOLN PARK — Citing her Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk among other Chicago projects, the Smithsonian has awarded local architect Jeanne Gang and her Studio Gang its top prize for overall architecture design.
In giving her the prize, the judges of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum's 2013 National Design Awards this month praised the zoo work, describing it as a 14-acre biodiverse habitat not only as a practical storm water infrastructure but an "engaging public space."
"Gang uses architecture as a medium of active response to contemporary issues and their impact on the human experience," they said. "Each project resonates with its specific site and culture while addressing larger global themes such as urbanization, climate and sustainability."
Opened about three years ago, the $12 million zoo boardwalk is now thriving with flowers, native plants, butterflies, birds, turtles and fish. Designed as an "outdoor classroom," the boardwalk features a unique fiberglass and wood pavilion curved to mimic the shell of a tortoise.
The boardwalk itself is made of recycled milk cartons and other plastics.
Gang founded Studio Gang in 1997 and her often-quirky work has delighted both professionals and the public alike.
Her Clark Park Boathouse in Roscoe Village officially opened this month. The 22,000-square-foot, $7.4 million project was inspired by rowers and their strokes. Its main lobby is designed to mimic an orange life vest.
Gang made a distinctive mark on the lakefront with her undulating 82-story Aqua building at 225 N. Columbus.
Gang, 49, has said she has a preference for "things that look light, almost fragile."