By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Construction on the Museum of Science and Industry’s southwest parking lot began on Monday, July 8. The lot, which is where many school buses drop children off for museum visits, will receive upgrades that will improve safety and sustainability.
The Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Park District and the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, who have named this endeavor the Traffic Mitigation and Circulation Enhancement Project, are collaborating to make improvements to the transportation hub located on the museum’s southwest side, at 57th Street and Cornell Drive. The project will improve the overall safety and guest experience for the more than 350,000 school children, teachers and groups that arrive annually on buses and use the lot to enter the museum.
During construction, buses will be redirected to use MSI’s north circle drive and Science Drive on the east side of the building. The underground parking garage will continue its normal rates and hours of operation.
David R. Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, said the project is scheduled to be completed within six to eight months and will include the following upgrades:
- A south expansion of the area of approximately 92 feet
- Two reconfigured access drives along Cornell Drive
- Defined cross-walks and safety islands for students and teachers along with protected sidewalks with fencing
- New lighting within the vehicular and pedestrian areas, as well as the restoration and relocation of two historically significant light fixtures to further visibility and safety
- Enhanced landscaping including shade and ornamental trees, evergreens, shrubs, flowers, groundcover and grasses
Over the years the museum has hosted several exhibits that focus on sustainability and green design including “Smarthome Green + Wired” and “Powerful: African Americans in Energy.” Mosena said this project will be one of the most environmentally friendly lots in the city. The lot will include elements that meet Chicago’s sustainable design standards of excellence such as:
- Recycling of suitable existing concrete and asphalt materials
- Control of erosion and sedimentation during construction
- Use of permeable brick pavement that will absorb normal precipitation and recharge groundwater
- Reduction of the “heat island” effect in the present black asphalt areas
- Management of storm water and rainfall to protect lagoon waters
- Bus lanes designed to minimize idling-engine time and resulting air pollution issues
- Extensive water-efficient landscaping, including ornamental, shade trees, shrubbery and native plants
- Lighting with state-of-the-art Dark Sky-style fixtures that minimize the city up-light or glow effect
- Trash enclosure designed to facilitate the museum’s single-stream recycling program
The museum has also switched over to its extended summer hours. During the cooler months, hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the summer the museum is open until 5 p.m.
For more information, call 773-684-1414 or visit msichicago.org.