Burnham Pavilion by UNStudio



Here are some pictures of the completed Burnham Pavilion by Dutch architects UNStudio in Millennium Park, Chicago.


The temporary pavilion opened last month alongside a second by architect Zaha Hadid, and will remain in place until 31 October.


Both structures have been created to celebrate the centenary of 1909 Plan of Chicago, also known as the Burnham Plan, which set out ways to improve the city.


See our previous story for more information and take a look at Hadid's design in our story here. Photographs are copyright Christian Richters/VIEW.


See also Dezeen’s top ten stories about pavilions.


Posted on Thursday July 9th 2009 at 12:49 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • R

    One of the first UN studio designs I actually like. Maybe because it’s more simple and the curves stay within the rectangular frame. What is also interesting is that the curves are more than just whims of the designer, but actual make up the construction creating the floating effect on the outer side as is visible on the last photo. Very nice!

  • beautiful , but the idea reminds my a little bit of Ingenhoven´s S21 main station – https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/media_fast/626/bahnhof_1517.JPG

  • Good use of lighting. IM sure that floor would be a little dangerous if its open to the elements.

  • hair piece

    Alex v.m.,

    UN Studio has been using this sort of typological surface since the early 90’s…if there is any point to be made I would say that it is the Ingenhoven station that reminds me of UN Studio work…

  • gab xiao

    zaha’s pavilion next door hasn’t met the deadline yet. its bare structure, although nice, is spoiling the presence of van Berkel’s and the area as well. this one is wholly embraced by public, kids especially…

  • I also noticed the Ingenhoven inspired shapes.

  • pim




  • i am wondering if the light is onlay coming from the floor. the night situation is my fav. something like the real deal about the floating and the use of space.

  • john

    looks like a zaha hadid aqua table

  • Alf B.

    Smart design and good use of lightweight materials.
    Definetly a good compromise between beautiful structural design and form.
    Congrats UN Studio, this is quite remarkable!

  • Wybie


  • Indi

    The Stuttgart project is by Frei Otto (b1925- ) with Ingenhoven- so UNStudio might have noticed his work sometime before

  • ingehoven was also not the first one to find the principle and then people should credit people like frei otto and heinz isler or just nature. with a column also no-one asks who invented it.

    beautiful use of this system! Nice pavillliion!

  • alohahe

    Great design! What is the material?

  • very beautiful

    we already did this project 11 years ago

    : )

  • freedom

    they should have mentioned who influenced them.

    like in literature.

  • norm

    if you are really searching for a reference, it would be Peterson Scott Cohen and his “Torus” house. that one came before eveyone else. he was the first one who was experimenting with the collision of organic and orthogonal forms.

  • sc

    wats the pt?

  • Cody

    Its Preston Scott Cohen. And I highly doubt he would make any claim like that. The fusion of organic and platonic forms stem all the way back to the baroque and the renaissance.

  • Nick

    A beautiful sculpture especially when lit. When you consider the design can be conceived very easily within 5 minutes on most leading 3d modelling packages combined with the fact it resembles work that Zaha was producing 5 years ago, it is not this that we should be admiring. Its execution and construction is very well done and it is this that we should applaud

  • m0saique

    awesome slides!!

    great design.

  • Cody

    I don’t think its accurate to call it a sculpture – as a pavilion, it is a building type. This pavilion in particular utilizes very well known architectural strategies. For example, an elevated platform with a parallel roof plane – Mies’s Farnsworth House. But rather than using columns to support the horizontal it distorts a roof plane, with a constant surface depth reinforced with a continuous surface profile. The way that the surface profile twists and kisses the ground at a tangent makes it very different from Ingehoven which is a vertical column blended into a horizontal roof. And I honestly can’t think of any Zaha project like this. She uses 3 surface features in her table, but unlike the pavilion, her surfaces are variably thick, bulging and drooping to touch the ground.

  • pierre

    somehow the flat sharp squaremess of it all apeals to me far more than the organics.

  • LOW

    I bet it’s really fun when it rains

  • FEW

    Alohahe – I was lucky enough to see some of the early mock-ups of this before it was built. The material is simply plywood! Fantastic work by both UN Studio and Garofalo Architects to get this built on a tight schedule.

  • hals pal

    Maybe I’m missing the point… I visited this the other day after having already read the mumbo jumbo about how the project responds to Burnham’s Master Plan etc. I went to the project hoping that it would help explain what I could not understand in the renderings. My first impression was that conceptual/theoretical nature of this project is in my opinion quite moot, and you have to accept the project on its own terms… so a few comments.
    – The shape does not appear to respond to anything around it and just looks like Ben van Berkel’s ego landed in Millenium Park.
    – This project will look great in renderings and photographs, but in person the inadequacies of our current building techniques (or the one employed on this project) are extremely apparent. The surface of the two planes, which look quite machined in the photographs are actually quite wavy and warped and *organic*. I’m not saying that it would have been easy or inexpensive, but the plywood construction seems to have not been the best choice for a finishing material.
    – Personally, I hate this trend of chromatically fluctuating LED lights which the project employs. The effect is quite cheap looking, and does not add to the “experience” or mood creating for such a piece. The lighting scheme and placement itself is very well done, but the changing colors just comes off as gimmicky and cheap.
    – The end result must have been a huge compromise from previous ideas (like so much of architecture). If one were able to climb up the droops (as so many children have tried) it would not only have been incredibly more experiential to have an elevated view of the city, but it would make the project much more communicative and fun to the general public. I suspect this compromise had to do with safety/building code issues.

    Well, its easy to take pot shots at this structure from the peanut gallery, but, inherently it is the job of the architect to foresee the complications in constructability, time schedules, materiality, and the overall experience of one’s public work. In most of these regards it seems that UN studio really overlooked and undercooked this project,. They probably had a team of two underpaid interns coming up with this in one night, then tossed it off to Garofalo and said, “Build it”. Big offices need to be more cognizant of their output. Cities (Chicago), needs to be more inclusive and transparent in their selection of urban design initiatives such as this. Was there any competition? hmm… we have Ghery…. who else. ahh yesss we need a Zaha . These seem like perfunctory choices with questionable returns.