Expanding the Friendly Confines
LPCI's Comments on
Renovation Plans for Wrigley Field
proposal to add 2,300 seats to one of the nation's most historic baseball parks
has received a qualified endorsement from LPCI, which sent its comments on the
proposal to the Chicago Cubs on January 8, 2002.
Cubs had unveiled plans to construct an addition to Wrigley Field's famed
bleachers in summer 2001. The proposal would expand the number of bleacher
seats from 3,300 to 5,400 by constructing above the sidewalks on two surrounding
The renovation plans also included 200 new box seats behind home plate,
conversion of the center-field "batter's eye" area to a glass-enclosed
restaurant, and a dozen more night games.
proposed alterations have generated widespread community debate, both by the
private clubs that occupy the rooftops of surrounding buildings and by area
residents who oppose additional traffic congestion and night games. Meanwhile,
the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has recommended that the 88-year-old
ballpark be designated as a local landmark, which would require that alterations
be reviewed by the Commission.
October 2001, a coalition of nearby property owners submitted an alternative
design that called for only 900 new bleacher seats.
In order to judge the merits
of the two proposals, LPCI invited both groups to present at a meeting of its
Preservation Issues Committee. An ad hoc task force then evaluated the designs
and drafted a letter that was subsequently approved by the LPCI Executive
Committee. LPCI's letter noted that building additions are "a
well-accepted alternative for accommodating change to a historic structure."
Citing the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of
Historic Buildings, the letter says that the proposed additions: were compatible
with the historic scale of the bleachers, would not destroy character-defining
features, were placed on a rear elevation, and were clearly differentiated from
the historic resource.
suggested that the size of the bleacher addition should be reduced slightly, in
order to maintain the historic "visual separation" between the bleachers and the
It also recommended a more compatible design for the sidewalk
overhang and the removal of exterior concrete panels that had replaced portions
of the historic brick walls in 1958.
Finally, the letter strongly urged
City Council passage of landmark designation for Wrigley Field, including its
ivy-covered walls, scoreboard, and other exterior features.
Field was built in 1914 as a single-deck facility. Its upper deck seating was
constructed during the 1920s and the bleachers were added in the late-1930s.
Current seating capacity is 39,500. The only older major league ballpark is
Boston's Fenway Park, which was constructed in 1912.