The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

About the Centennial

Pavilion by Zaha Hadid


"Superimpositions of spatial structures with hidden traces of Burnham's organizational systems create unexpected results in the Burnham Pavilion. By using methods of overlaying, complexity is built up and inscribed in the structure."

-Zaha Hadid


Zaha Hadid's designs have the power to reinterpret and invigorate our understanding of what a building or a cityscape can be. Her fluid structures evolve from experimentation with cutting-edge technologies to reinterpret space itself.


Examining Burnham's drawings in the Plan of Chicago, Hadid was struck by how the city's diagonal streets open up the otherwise rigid street grid. Lengthening the drawn line of one of the diagonals, she marked where the street would fall if extended into Millennium Park. The design for the Burnham Pavilion incorporates that line, as the structural ribs and openings in the roof run parallel to an imaginary extension of Daniel Burnham's diagonal streets. The result is Hadid's sinuous pavilion that plays with shadow, light and space.


More than 7,000 pieces of aluminum- no two alike- were individually bent and welded together, creating the pavilion's curvilinear form. Thousands of yards of fabric were custom tailored and tightly fit onto the interior and exterior aluminum-tube structure. The ridges of the aluminum are deliberately expressed through the external skin. The Marmon/Keystone Corporation donated much of the aluminum that provides the frame of curved ribs supporting the pavilion.


The interplay of light and shadow changes as the skylights cast shadows on the curving interior walls during the day. In the evening, a film installation by artist Thomas Gray is projected onto the fluid fabric interior from different points inside the pavilion, creating a fully immersive effect. The film impressionistically reflects Chicago's transformation from 1909 to present, and includes the voices of people throughout the Chicago region sharing their visions of the future. To view this film, click here.


Accompanying the film is a creative multi-channel sound track by Lou Mallozzi of Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. Both the interior and exterior surfaces of the pavilion are bathed in ever-changing lighting designed by Dear Productions.


The pavilion's materials are completely recyclable, and can be dismantled and reinstalled in its entirety elsewhere after the Centennial. For more information on Zaha Hadid Architects, click here.





Photos by: Eric Y. Exit, Thomas Gray and Michelle Litvin


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Pavilion Design by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects (with Thomas Vietzke and Jens Borstelmann)

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Architect of Record: Thomas Roszak Architecture, LLC

Fabricator: Fabric Images

Media Experience: Thomas Gray for The Gray Circle

Structural Engineer: Rockey Structures

Lighting Design: DEAR Productions, Inc.

Collaborating School of Architecture: Illinois Institute of Technology

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Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Zaha Hadid was passionate about mathematics from an early age. She moved to London in the mid-1970s where she started her architectural practice and continues it today. In 2004, Hadid became the first woman and the youngest architect so far to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture. In 2006, she was honored with a 30-year retrospective exhibition of her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The Burnham Pavilions are open and free to the public in Millennium Park through November 1, 2009. The final on-site Talks With the Team with structural engineer Chris Rockey and project manager Julie Burros takes place October 28.

The Burnham Pavilions

Images of Pavilion by UNStudio

Images of Pavilion by Zaha Hadid

Burnham Pavilion Videos

Burnham Pavilions in Millennium Park

Pavilion Programming

Pavilion by UNStudio

Pavilion by Zaha Hadid Architects

Burnham Pavilion Sponsors


Architectural exhibits in Millennium Park designed by London-based Zaha Hadid and Amsterdam-based Ben van Berkel of UNStudio emphasize the importance of boldly imagining a better future for all. [MORE]

The Burnham Plan Centennial
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