Chicago’s 1893 Ferris Wheel—the world’s first—inspired visitors at the World’s Columbian Exposition and helped establish the burgeoning city’s reputation for big dreams and hard work. Although it’s unlikely to have quite the same impact as its historical touchstone, a new proposal for seven wheels in Navy Pier’s Gateway Park could rekindle a semblance of that awe in modern day passersby.
The idea is the brainchild of Hapsitus, an urban design studio based in Beirut whose name is a portmanteau of “happening” and “situation.” In sticking with the firm’s philosophy of viewing the city as an organism and a “concentrated distribution of energy,” Hapsitus’ Wheels of Chicago project is composed of “Chicago moments,” including its over-arching diversity and individual regions: Southside Industry, Lakefront Playground, Downtown Business, Westside Art, and Northside Leisure.
The steel sculptures would range in size from 65 feet in diameter (“business” and “art”) to 115 feet, compared to the 150-foot-wide Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. Wrapped in steel cables, the objects would turn thanks to motors in their central hubs. Though the 1893 wheel is long gone, the project’s Ferris Wheel homage is accurately descrbied by the designers as “a continuous celebration of Chicago.”