City of Lake Forest


Forest Park Beach Restoration

Lake Forest, Illinois

3,400 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline , 1,036 meters of Lake Michigan shoreline

Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning, Environmental Science

“It's a trailblazer kind of project. There probably aren't a dozen things similar to it anywhere.”

—Dr. Charles Collinson, former member of Chicago Shoreline Protection Commission


Once a broad swath of sand at the base of a bluff, Lake Forest's Forest Park Beach on Lake Michigan had been reduced to a line of gravel just a few feet wide. The city retained SmithGroupJJR as part of an interdisciplinary team to restore, protect and enhance this beloved community resource. The team's unique approach initially raised some eyebrows—but the end result was a tremendous success that restored Forest Park Beach for generations to come.

The design called for offshore breakwaters and onshore revetments to dissipate incoming wave energy. The beach would be restored by adding sand along the shoreline in a scalloped pattern, and allowing wave action to shape it. The plan worked brilliantly, and the firm subsequently designed new amenities for the renewed lakeshore, including a boat basin and popular promenade. The project set a benchmark for Great Lakes shoreline restoration and established SmithGroupJJR as a leading interdisciplinary waterfront expert.