Monroe Plaza Pocket Park

Chicago, IL

There aren't many alleys in cities that you would call cheerful. Alleys are usually gloomy and dark with trash spread throughout. When building owners Accesso purchased the property, they wanted to convert it into a welcoming outdoor space for all.

“It was a dark, dingy alley, populated with bicycle racks and trash cans, and a popular spot for smokers,” said Paul Gaines, Managing Director Asset Management, at Accesso. “We recognized the potential to transform it into an inviting public space for building employees, nearby restaurant customers and passersby.”

The plan for Monroe Plaza Pocket was created and the building's property managers started working with Shive-Hattery to bring the project to life.

“We saw an opportunity to use lighting as a point of visual interest and attraction,” said Mark Matuska, architect at Shive-Hattery. “We wanted the lighting to mark this area as a destination.”

The architects collaborated with KSA Lighting and the Design Assist team at A-Light to create a unique, eye-catching lighting scheme. The final design includes a combination of A-Light’s Accoled5 (ACL5) and Accoled3 (ACL3) linear lighting.

ACL5, a recessed luminaire, is installed in a custom criss-cross pattern on the underside of a wood-like canopy that spans the length of the pocket park. ACL3, a surface mount luminaire, is mounted along an open, zig-zag concrete frame that runs parallel to the wooden canopy. Each “X” in the project’s pattern is formed with one long linear fixture and two short fixtures, welded together. When on, the striking illumination in the pattern appears seamless.

“The lighting provides a dynamic visual in the park,” said Matuska. “The angled layout is intentional, to provide a juxtaposition to the rigid lines of the surrounding buildings.”

The ACL5 and ACL3 luminaires are well-suited to the outdoor project for many reasons. Because of the fixtures’ slim profiles, minimal housing and versatility in installation, pattern designs are possible.

Both direct linear fixtures feature a patented HE Tech™ lens, providing excellent distribution of light down to the casual seating spaces below.

Beyond aesthetics, ACL3 and ACL5 offer optimized thermal and optical performance. The high-efficiency LEDs will ensure low maintenance and energy costs in the years to come. And the wet-rated fixtures can withstand the rigors of the Chicago climate.

“We were drawn to these particular products because of A-Light’s ability to meet our design requirements. The Design Assist team was able to provide continuous-looking linear fixtures with custom angled connections,” said Matuska.

“The park has generated some great exposure for Monroe Plaza,” said Gaines. “The City has been very supportive of the transformation and snapped up the space as a pop-up venue for their Activate! Chicago summer program.”

“We turned ‘nothing’ into ‘something’ and created a little oasis in the middle of the city,” Gaines said.

Monroe Plaza Pocket Park: Before Photo

Monroe Plaza Pocket Park: After Photo



Job Location: Chicago, IL
Architect: Shive-Hattery Chicago
Lighting Designer: KSA Lighting
Photographer: AJ Brown Imaging