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North Ave Beach House

An existing single-story wood beach house built in 1939 with streamlined nautical motifs had deteriorated beyond repair and could no longer serve the over 6.5 million annual visitors to Chicago’s largest beach. A new enlarged building was programmed to house public washrooms, concessions and Chicago’s life-guard training center.
Working closely with local community and preservation groups, the Chicago Park District and Public Building Commission, the building was designed to recall the spirit of the previous structure while creating an entirely new beach house in a new site that relieves congestion, increases security, is durable and a delight without replication.
The omni-directional cast in place concrete structure’s new location opens previously blocked vistas to the lake from North Avenue and has become a prominent civic landmark. A continuous promenade wraps the boat shaped plan, responding to a new site design in collaboration with John MacManus and Associates, GEC, and the Chicago Park District. Two prominent “smokestacks”, previously ornamental, house stairs which access a public terrace on the upper level.

Architects of Record: GEC Design Group
Construction: Joslyn Construction
Photography: William Kildow; Lawrence Okrent, Tom Rossiter