When Elisabeth Dunbar of the Lincoln Park Conservancy invited me to participate in the 8th annual duckART, the connection between urban dwellers and natural world caught my interest. Each year, a group of Chicago architects, designers, landscape architects and artists are invited to create a one-of-a-kind decorative duck for a silent auction. Other participants for this year include JAHN, makeArchitecture, luftwerk, Searl Lamaster Howe Architects, site design group and Ross Barney Architects. The Lincoln Park Conservancy is launching a park improvement project at the North Pond Nature Sanctuary to ensure this lakefront treasure remains a natural, healthy place for both people and wildlife. Ducks are a special part of the natural beauty of the pond with 26 duck species that rely on its clean water and native plants as a safe stopover during migrations. An additional 185 avian species, frogs, turtles, butterflies and dragonflies also make the pond their home. It is a true sanctuary where urban wildlife finds food and shelter and human urban dwellers find peace through nature.
The water of North Pond is surrounded by high-rises and built world elements. In Reflect, water is re-imagined as a reflection of the surrounding built world. Form, variation and motion of the natural world are encoded in line, repetition and symmetry borrowed from the vocabulary of architecture. Living well in the urban environment requires new ways of finding beauty and staying connected to nature. This Lincoln Park Conservancy project offers an important vision for restoring and expanding our connection with the natural world in Chicago.