Better Drainage in Public Spaces: Maggie Daley Park


With our nation’s rapidly growing urban population, the challenge facing architects and urban designers is how to transform public spaces and build better cities that are more beautiful, architecturally special and pleasant places to live and work.

Chicago is known as the “City in a Garden”, with 580 parks, 8,100 acres of green space and more than 100 miles of streetscape gardens. It is also the first urban park district to receive the prestigious National Gold Medal Award by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.

A recent addition to Chicago’s landscape, Maggie Daley Park, is an outstanding example of the city’s commitment to create even more public spaces that enhance our urban living experience, and Lafarge North America supplied over 40,000 tons of sand to help make this beautiful urban landscape a reality. This unique park provides an adventurous space that features climbing walls, tennis courts, an ice-skating ribbon and play areas—all set among grassy hills, valleys and 1,000 trees for attracting migrating birds and wildlife. With its 25 lakeside acres watched over by some of the city’s iconic skyscrapers, the park makes a bold statement on the melding of work and play in an urban environment.

Landscaping of the park required an initial supply of more than 20,000 tons of natural sand, involving 25 trucks to deliver product over 60 miles to the job site in downtown Chicago. As the landscaping progressed, Lafarge was asked to provide additional material to blend with topsoil for areas of the park requiring excellent drainage, such as at the base of the ice-skating ribbon, on walking trails and underneath the turf.

In response to this request, Lafarge submitted for consideration a material that is a byproduct of producing Torpedo sand, which is often used in concrete and asphalt applications. In addition to its excellent drainage and other performance properties, this material also offers significant sustainability advantages due to its beneficial product reuse characteristics. After extensive quality testing of the sand by the Chicago Department of Transportation, the general contractor requested 20,000 tons of the material to finish the project.

Based on the success of the Lafarge product in helping to create the beautiful Maggie Daley Park, the general contractor used 5,000 tons of sand from Lafarge for transforming an unused elevated railway into a riding trail and multiuse park that is the first of its kind in Chicago. Called “The 606”—named for the 606 ZIP code all Chicagoans share—the 3-mile-long trail and park system has become a true community corridor and one of Chicago’s great promenades for biking, running and strolling.