Forest Preserve Gateway Master Plan

Cook County, IL

The Lakota Group led a design team in the development of a cohesive, community-supported vision for a system of gateway sites for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Gateway Master Plan, completed in 2015, identified opportunities to make the preserves more welcoming. The goal of the Gateway Master Plan is to define and promote a class of special gateway by improving access, orientation, amenities, sense of place, access to outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities. The Gateway Master Plan had an internal and external advisory committee to guide the process for prioritizing the gateway sites. Priority was given to two types of gateway sites: ‘campus sites’ with multiple destinations and activities and ‘corridor sites’ that serve as a trailhead or gateway to a regional trail.

In 2016, staff and The Lakota Group moved from district-wide recommendations to site specific plans including sign locations, recommendations for art and place making and identifying other improvements such as brush clearing and future capital investments. At the end of 2016 the first phase of wayfinding improvements were implemented at Skokie Lagoons. Further improvements are anticipated to be implemented at Dan Ryan Woods, Deer Grove, Thatcher Woods, Bemis Woods, and Palos Preserves.