28 oct 15  | Curbed Chicago

Imagining a Future Pullman National Park Campus

by AJ LaTrace

Now that the South Side's Pullman Historic District has officially been recognized as a National Monument for eight months, a team of stakeholders led by the National Parks Conservation Association and American Institute of Architects Chicago have released a blue print for what could become a new national park campus. The new Positioning Pullman brochure offers a detailed look at the various components of a future campus, from attractions to transportation. Architect Richard Wilson of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture was tapped to lead the Positioning Pullman blue print project, which comes as the result of a three-day brainstorm and community workshop that was held in April. According to Wilson's introductory statement in the brochure, 400 attendees were present on the last day of the workshop. And while the project offers some beautiful renderings and concepts for the site, it's merely that at this point — a conceptual plan of what could become of the Pullman District.

The project had numerous objectives, from programming and immersion to the adaptive reuse of the district's iconic buildings and ultimately, the redevelopment of the Pullman neighborhood as a whole. Tours and programming would focus on the history of the Pullman Palace Car Company, but also the history of the neighborhood and its residents. And while much of the factory has been demolished or lost to history, the plan suggests interpreting the "ruins" of the factory as educational and tourist sites. There's even suggestions to create an open air market and a brewpub. However, the crown jewel of the master plan would no doubt be the neighborhood's iconic Clock Tower and Administration Buildings, which could eventually be renovated and become a tourist destination in its own right.

For such a major overhaul the Pullman Historic District to happen, the national park campus would not only need an outpouring of support from local residents, but it'd require a lot of time and money. The team behind the Positioning Pullman project crunched the numbers and according to Wilson, the plan would cost over $250 million and take several years to complete. And at that price tag, such a plan would need support from public and private sources. However, Wilson does note that several major redevelopment projects are currently in discussion or are already underway.