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Diversey Driving Range
DeStefano + Partners

Wary community groups become fans when a utilitarian structure becomes a landscape folly

© Barbara Karant

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

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By Clifford A. Pearson

When the company that manages golf facilities for the Chicago Park District proposed an expansion of the Diversey Driving Range in Lincoln Park by simply adding a no-frills, second-level deck, community groups gave it the thumbs-down. The second time around, the company, Kemper Golf Management, and the Park District took a different approach, hiring an architectural firm that understood the important role that even simple structures play when set in a public park.

Understanding the sensitive setting for the project, the architects at DeStefano + Partners decided to "reinvent the structure as a landscape feature or folly," explains Avram Lothan, AIA, the project designer. The idea was to make a light and transparent object, using trellises and perforated metal instead of solid walls. Ivy and Virginia creepers on the trellises would connect the metal structure to the landscape.

Since the site was landfill made from the debris of the 1871 Chicago Fire, the architects had to keep the structure fairly lightweight. To support a second level, they rebuilt the existing foundation as a network of concrete grade beams; like a raft, it allows the whole structure to move as one piece. While the new facility follows the same 324-foot-long arc as the old range, an additional three feet behind the golfers provides extra room for circulation.

The architects used concrete for the foundation and second-level deck, but designed the rest of the structure as an exercise in metal. Steel columns set 18 feet on center establish 18 bays, each with two golfing stalls. To reduce the time needed for construction, the steel-mesh trellises were built off site during the winter, then bolted onto the structure's welded-steel frame in the spring.

See the August 2001 issue of Architectural Record for full coverage of this project.

Formal name of building:
Diversey Driving Range


Gross square footage:
72 Driving Stalls, 12,400 sq ft

Total construction cost:
$ 1.1 million

Architect's firm:
DeStefano + Partners
445 East Illinois Street, Suite 250
Chicago, Ill. 60611
t. 312-836-4321
f. 312-836-4322



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