Sited on the shore of Lake Michigan amidst Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs, Fort Sheridan was quite possibly the most desirable Federal property sold off for development in the wake of the 1990 Base Realignment and Closure Act. I authored these planning guidelines for a residential community combining the Fort’s important historical fabric with new construction.
Fort Sheridan’s improbably fancy location depends from its origins as, essentially, a military satellite: the site was donated to the Army in the 1880s by the Commercial Club of Chicago as a base for armed response to urban worker unrest. Objectionable as the class politics were, they supported a high level of planning and architecture that remains largely intact. The Fort’s sixty-six core structures built between 1889 and 1895 were among the first works from the office of Holabird & Roche and the landscape was laid out by Ossian Simonds around an impressive Parade Ground.
While Fort Sheridan was to be reworked primarily as a bedroom community, neither of its primary housing types — Victorian officers’ mansions and vast barracks — was entirely suited to contemporary residential markets. In response, the guidelines introduce a mid-scale of smaller houses and rowhouses concentrated in areas freed up by demolition of non-conforming structures.
Historically significant service buildings, including the Fort’s characteristic stables, were slated as live/work and retail spaces. North of the Parade Ground, the site was given over to recreational and conservation landscapes, with the exception of a 1972 complex to be converted to not-for-profit transitional housing.
These guidelines were adopted by the Fort Sheridan Joint Planning Committee in 1995 and partially implemented.