Skylanding and the Jackson Park Masterplan

WHY is currently involved in a multi-phase masterplan to develop one of Chicago’s most historically important green spaces, Jackson Park. Originally designed by landscape architects Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the site forms part the 7 mile stretch of parkland alongside Lake Michigan. Incorporating many of the original masterplan ideas, WHY’s design for the site proposes a series of specific interventions which will act to heal the landscape over time; the first phase of this project is a site-specific sculpture collaboration with Yoko Ono.

Key info
Design Architect
Executed by Workshop HY Architecture & Design DPC
Chicago, IL, USA
  • 2014 - Ongoing
  • 500+ acres
Lead Planner, Design and Landscape Architect

The park has a rich history, but has experienced significant neglect over the years. In 1893 it served as the site of the Chicago World’s Fair, and the Wooded Island was chosen for the location of the Japanese pavilion. The pavilion later fell into disrepair and was damaged by fire – however, the Japanese gardens have been carefully maintained and the Chicago Park District has planted 120 cherry trees in celebration of the park’s history. As part of the masterplan, WHY has proposed the construction of a new Phoenix Pavilion, a space for public performances and site-specific art.


The first stage of the masterplan has been marked by an important collaboration with Yoko Ono. Located on the site of the original pavilion, WHY Landscape created a landform which speaks to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, the mending of a broken vessel with visible joins of lacquer. Defined by sculptural ridges and mounds, the landform is shaped in relation to Yoko Ono’s sculpture Skylanding, a composition of twelve 12-foot tall aluminum lotus petals, symbolizing peace, harmony, and renewal.

“All my life, I have been in love with the sky. Even when everything was falling apart around me, the sky was always there for me. It was the only constant factor in my life, which kept changing with the speed of light and lightning. As I told myself then, I could never give up on life as long as the sky was there.”

Yoko Ono
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