The Chicago Park District starts work today on a new project by Yoko Ono. Her first permanent public art installation in the Americas will be a meditation on world peace, harmony with nature, and Japanese-American relations dubbed SKY LANDING, which is slated for a parcel of Jackson Park once home to the historic Phoenix Pavilion.
Instead of a groundbreaking, construction began Friday with a “ground healing” ceremony on Wooded Island. Ono’s installation, set to open in June 2016, will include a sculpture and landscape design meant to evoke a sense of harmony with nature. The details of the project are still largely undefined.
“I recall being immediately connected to the powerful site and feeling the tension between the sky and the ground,” Ono said in a press statement. “I wanted the Sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again.”
Following the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Japan Construction Company shipped several prefabricated, traditional Japanese structures to Chicago’s South Side, establishing the Ho-o-den (Phoenix Pavilion). It remained on Wooded Island until fire destroyed the Phoenix Pavilion in 1946.
Now home to Osaka Garden, the site is part of a public-private overhaul of Jackson and Washington Parks under the nonprofit banner Project 120 Chicago. Led by the Chicago Park District and businesspeople including Robert Karr, Jr., a lawyer and the executive vice president of the Japan America Society of Chicago, Project 120 Chicago was convened to “revitalize” Frederick Law Olmsted’s South Side parks, which have suffered from years of deferred maintenance.
In 2012 the group’s efforts began with an initiative to plant hundreds of cherry blossom trees. They then hired architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY to look into building a new Phoenix Pavilion. Preservation landscape architect and planner Patricia O’Donnell and her firm Heritage Landscapes were hired to lead larger preservation efforts in the parks.