Since 1993, The Lakota Group has designed numerous parks across the Chicagoland area—from neighborhood playgrounds to entire park district comprehensive plans. Through every aspect of the process, we incorporate innovative, sustainable design and extensive community input. Check out just some of the parks and playgrounds we have worked on over the past 25 years!


Hubbard Woods Park Master Plan

The Lakota Group led the development of a master plan for near and long-term park improvements, which focused on the park’s role in the revitalization of the surrounding district. The planning effort examined both the function and location of current and potential amenities within the park, and in context with the district’s surrounding land uses. The final Park Master Plan clustered key amenities to create a more beneficial user experience while also promoting synergy with nearby businesses. The park planning effort began with an assessment of existing amenities and the recreational needs of the community, including a series of community workshops and meetings with local business owners.


Howard Park Community Ice Ribbon and Playscape

The Lakota Group is leading the design of Howard Park, downtown South Bend’s historic riverfront park, for South Bend Venues Parks and Arts. The design reimagines the 12.75-acre site as a premier regional destination and hub of activity for downtown. The program includes two new park buildings; an ice rink; curving ice trail; an interactive water feature; custom playground; an event lawn; and a series of plazas, gathering spaces, and art gardens. The key driving force behind the design is to create a place that is both multi-seasonal and multi-generational, building upon the history of South Bend and embracing its location on the St. Joseph River. The design seamlessly integrates spaces using a cohesive vernacular of site elements, hardscape, landscape, and lighting, as well as dramatic topographical changes to surprise and delight park visitors at every turn.


Thomas J Waters Elementary School Campus Design

Working with Chicago Public Schools, the local alderman, school leaders, stakeholders, and neighborhood community groups, Lakota prepared an overall site and landscape design for a new and sustainable outdoor learning environment at Waters School. The team emphasized use of Low Impact Design technologies, such as permeable paving, rain barrels, and native bioswales to improve stormwater quality in compliance with LEED certification standards and Chicago’s new stormwater ordinance. Additionally, the design includes ecological education elements, recycled play field surfaces, local materials, recycling stations, and native plantings to create a model urban school campus based on the standards of environmental sustainability.


Skokie Playfield Master Plan

The Lakota Group led a master planning process for this heavily utilized 163-acre, multi-use park facility. The process included small group and one-on-one meetings with over 55 stakeholders representing more than 20 special interest groups. A range of alternative designs was developed to maximize efficiency; improve circulation and wayfinding; address drainage and floodplain issues; and incorporate new uses, sustainable practices, and enhanced aesthetics. The final design includes a large multi-purpose synthetic turf field; a promenade; new playground; enhanced natural turf fields; a covered golf driving range structure; and enhanced landscape planting, including native vegetated native bioswales. The Lakota Group was responsible for developing a master plan as well as preparing construction documents for the park.


Skokie Sports Park East

In 2015, the Skokie Park District engaged the Gewalt Hamilton Associates Team to prepare a master plan for the Sports Park East site, owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and leased by the Skokie Park District. The Lakota Group assisted with stakeholder outreach and engagement, as well as the design process. The Master Plan envisions multi-use athletic fields, walking trails, and a new destination playground.


Juniper Park

Juniper Park, a Chicago Park District neighborhood playground located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, needed major renovations. The Lakota Group was hired to lead the design of a new play area that includes elements to stimulate children’s sensory, motor, cognitive, and social/emotions skills. The design includes nature-based play elements such as log steppers, log balance beams, a sand play area, a hill slide, and outcropping stones. It also includes standard play elements—tot swings, basket swings, and a rope spinner—as well as a spray pool and winding paths throughout the mature trees. The playground just opened to the public in August!