Polish Triangle renovation design plans are coming close to revelation


This rendering shows an aerial view of the Polish Triangle with Division at the bottom and Milwaukee on the right

Design development plans in the form of renderings for the Polish Triangle, the parcel of land bound by Milwaukee, Division and Ashland, are close to being ready for public presentation, according to Mieko Yoshida, President of the Polish Triangle Coalition (PTC). 

Bugaj Architects [pronounced Boo guy], 1223 N. Milwaukee Ave., began a partnership with PTC in April to move PTC's revitalization plans for the Triangle to the next step in structure, use and beauty for the people plaza. This public space is the gateway to four neighborhoods: Wicker Park, East Village, Noble Square and Pulaski Park. 

"Bugaj is in the final stages of producing renderings, which incorporate the community's opinions regarding the feel, use and appearance of the space. Flexibility of space use, low maintenance and sustainability are three of the goals they are working toward in their design…and they are succeeding," Yoshida says with great enthusiasm. 

With their offices on Milwaukee Ave. across from the Triangle, Bugaj has been observing the space at all hours of the day and night for four years. They see the people flow, traffic jams, cyclist usage, people pausing, children playing with the water, sweet and disruptive behavior, people feeding pigeons, the confusion of travelers wondering where they are and how to get where they are going…they see it all. 

Armed with their own knowledge and experience of the space and architecture, Bugaj is blending community interests and constraints of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the City of Chicago. The end result will be a packet of renderings which will be released to the public in early August. 


Artur Kaczmarek, Alex Robbins, Anna Bugaj, Mieko Joy Yoshida and Drew Bayley review possible use concepts

Once Anna Bugaj and Artur Kaczmarek's team had an opportunity to review the material provided by PTC, they began conceptualizing elements for the Triangle space. Then they began a series of meetings with three PTC Board Members, Mieko Yoshida, who by day is the Operations Manager for Near North Montessori school, Drew Bayley, Architect and community resident, and Elaine Coorens, historian/author, Editor/Publisher of Our Urban Times and resident. 

At the meetings the Bugaj team showed possible elements to solve problems  with the space while fulfilling space use needs and community interests and preferences. Selected elements turned into overall concepts and now into more refined renderings that will provide a way for dialogue with all the stakeholders in this people plaza, including possible funders.



Algren Fountain

Comments by Elaine Coorens state maintenance of existing Algren "structure is difficult to impossible." What are the issues with the structure as it stands?

Structural issues

Structurally the bowl is tilted and it is rusting out. We did get the City to make some repairs to the base "pool" a year or two ago but that took a lot to make that happen. As you may know from fountains in other communities, be they parks or other public places, getting repairs done continues to be increasingly more difficult. Hope that answers your question.

Nelson Algren

Thanks to you both (Melodie and Jeff) for the question. Jeff, no one is trying to erase Algren from the community. Those of us who have been working for six years to try to enhance this people plaza are very interested in maintaining the tribute to him. Giving people an opportunity to express their opinions about what they wanted in the space has been part of all the steps taken to date. The Polish Triangle Coalition (PTC) heard in those comments interest for water and Algren, among other things. I will share that maintenance of the existing structure has been a challenge that is difficult to impossible. The goals for the revitalized space is to make it self-sustaining with low maintenance. Just to repeat, plans include having a water feature and honoring Algren. We are excited with Bugaj's work and are looking forward to having the final renderings so that we can share them. And then, we hope that you will join us in helping make them a reality! It is going to take a lot of help from everyone to raise the funds and then have all the partnerships required to accomplish this type of project with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and other City of Chicago entities. In the meantime, please do come to Tuesdays at the Triangle between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. (except for July 4) through Aug. 29. The PTC is in its 5th year of having various excellent performers each week. As an all volunteer organization, we are always eager to have others join our ranks! See you at the Triangle...I hope!

Nelson Algren Fountain

Good question--what's up with that? Is his memory--& the memory of Stu McCcarrell--in danger of being erased from the neighborhood again? Meanwhile, read my 1998 Reader cover feature about how the fountain happened--& why many people didn't want it in the first place. "For the masses who do the city's labor also keep the city's heart."--from Chicago: City on the Make. (also a quote around the fountain) Will there be a struggle to honor the city's working people (& their advocates & chroniclers) in Wicker Park again? https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/full-nelson/Content?oid=897786

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