REQUEST FOR PRE-PROPOSALS: Establishing Gathering Spaces within the Burnham Wildlife Corridor


In collaboration with the Burnham Wildlife Corridor Curatorial Committee, the Chicago Park District and The Field Museum are soliciting pre-proposals for the establishment of “gathering spaces” (artistic representations of culture and nature)  within a section of Burnham Park known as the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. To view the full Request for Proposals and application submission instructions, please visit: 
Pre-proposals will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. CST, Friday, May 29, 2015.


Establishing Gathering Spaces within the Burnham Wildlife Corridor

Artistic Representations of Culture & Nature
Commissioned by Chicago Park District and The Field Museum

Pre-proposals due:  5:00 p.m. CST on May 29, 2015

Overview of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor:  The Burnham Wildlife Corridor is a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness located within Burnham Park along Chicago’s south lakefront. Chicago Park District owns and maintains this property, which is comprised of existing and planned natural areas representative of the native tallgrass prairie, savanna, and woodland ecosystems of this region. The Burnham Wildlife Corridor extends from the McCormick Bird Sanctuary in the north to the Burnham Nature Sanctuary in the south (See Appendix for a map). When completed, it will be the largest contiguous stretch of natural areas along the Chicago lakefront.

The long-term goals associated with the Burnham Wildlife Corridor are two-fold: (1) to create healthy, vibrant native habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife; and (2) to meaningfully connect visitors, especially those from the neighboring communities of Bronzeville, Chinatown, Little Village, and Pilsen, to this revitalized public green space in ways that inspire exploration, enjoyment, and stewardship of the area.

Purpose of this Request:  As a strategy to augment and activate the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, Chicago Park District and The Field Museum are partnering to challenge teams of artists and community-based organizations (CBOs) to produce “gathering spaces” within the Corridor. Gathering spaces are intended as convening grounds and rest areas for people exploring the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. The locations of these gathering spaces have been deliberately designated to align with the native ecosystems within which they exist. (See Appendix for a map of locations.) Successful proposals will harness local creative energy, and reflect a consideration of and respect for the natural landscape, native wildlife, and an ecological aesthetic. Awarded teams will be commissioned to actualize their project plans.

Applicant Eligibility
:  Pre-proposal applicants must be artists who live and/or work primarily in Bronzeville, Chinatown, Little Village, or Pilsen – or otherwise have a strong and significant connection to one of these neighborhoods. We are particularly interested in projects that enliven the gathering spaces through aesthetics, enhance the natural areas, and envision ways to engage community members in these spaces. Prior public art experience is strongly preferred. If invited to submit a full proposal, artists MUST demonstrate an established partnership with a community-based organization for the purposes of this project specifically. Full proposals should be developed by teams of artists and organizations.

Amount of Funding Available
:  Five grants of up to $20,000 each will be awarded to create installations at the designated locations in the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. This funding can only be used to support the following aspects of a project:  design, fabrication, site work, transportation, delivery, and installation.
NOTE:  It is the project team’s responsibility to cover any project-related expenses in excess of the grant-awarded amount of funding.

FREE Materials Available
:  Chicago Park District can provide certain repurposed materials for use in awarded projects. While not required, applicants are encouraged to consider using the following:
  • A variety of concrete and granite pieces that were once part of municipal infrastructure or artworks (donated by the City of Chicago);  
  • Hardwood logs (primarily ash);
  • Three sizeable pieces of basalt (donated by Schwake Stone).
Click here to view photos of some of the available materials.

Process Timeline
 The Burnham Wildlife Corridor Curatorial Committee – a panel of appointed arts professionals, artists, and representatives of community-based organizations – will review all submitted materials and make the final grant award decisions.
  • Week of April 27, 2015:           RFP released
  • Week of May 11, 2015:           Information sessions held*
  • May 29, 2015:                         PRE-PROPOSALS DUE
  • June 15, 2015:                        Full proposals invited
  • July 17, 2015:                          FULL PROPOSALS DUE
  • July 27-August 7, 2015:          Pre-award interviews conducted (with up to 10 teams)
  • August 17, 2015:                     GRANT AWARDS ANNOUNCED
  • October 2015-May 2016:        Installations completed
  • Summer 2016:                        On-site opening celebration held
* Chicago Park District, The Field Museum, and the Curatorial Committee will convene two information sessions regarding this RFP. ALL interested artists and community-based organizations should attend one of these sessions to learn more about this opportunity, get questions answered, and meet potential partners.


NOTE:  The maximum size of each Gathering Space is a 30-foot diameter area; proposed projects may be smaller in size. The number of people each Gathering Space should accommodate should not exceed 20 and may be less than that. No multi-story or closed-roof structures are allowed, and the maximum height of installations cannot exceed 10 feet.