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Synthetic Grass, Giant Playpen Each Win $5,000 Awards to Enliven Union Station, Fifth Third Center

Union Station’s Great Hall will be alive with activities from a $5,000 award-winning idea to bring it artificial grass later this summer, Metropolitan Planning Council contest organizers say.

Three synthetic grass areas to turn Union Station into a site for tether ball, picnic tables and bocce ball. A giant inflatable playpen to bring playfulness to the nearby Plaza at Fifth Third Center.

These are the ideas that won their creators $5,000 each to move them to fruition for 10 days this summer.

The Metropolitan Planning Council Tuesday announced the two winners of its 2013 “Activate Union Station” Contest. Fifth Third Bank is covering the total $10,000 in prizes.

The Chicago architecure and planning firm of Latent Design won the Plaza at Fifth Third Center contest. A team of Chicago-based architects won the Union Station contest for its plans for the Great Hall.

Their visions will debut Saturday Aug. 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and run through Monday, Sep. 2.

Contest winners are “advancing a broader effort to rethink Union Station’s role in Chicago—not just as an indispensable asset to the country’s and region’s rail systems, but as a destination in its own right, for Chicago tourists and residents alike,’’ Metropolitan Planning Council Program Director Marisa Novara said in a news release.

See the Metropolitan Planning Council news release about the two winners of its contest at