Float On

Football-field-sized party barge for Lake Michigan unveiled

Design Midwest
(Breakwater Chicago)
(Breakwater Chicago)

Chicago is getting closer to having a new piece of offshore architecture. Breakwater Chicago is the football-field-sized floating pleasure island designed by Chicago-based Space Architects + Planners for Lake Michigan. With the original capital coming from a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, the project is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Coast Guard for approval to move forward.

The project takes its name from, and will be located within, the Chicago Harbor breakwater, a 5,321-foot-long structure surrounding the downtown. Renderings show the Breakwater located specifically in the area of the harbor locally known as the Playpen. The area is filled with pleasure boats throughout the few months weather permits. The promise of the Breakwater is that it will make this area more accessible, as currently it is almost exclusively large yachts enjoying the calm water. Breakwater president and co-founder Beau D’Arcy said he wants the project to cater to families as well as those looking to party out on the water.

Private boats will be able to dock with the Breakwater, and a taxi service will also bring guests out to the floating attraction. (Breakwater Chicago)

Private boats will be able to dock with the Breakwater,
and a taxi service will also bring guests out to the floating attraction. (Breakwater Chicago)

The Breakwater will include pools, three restaurants, and docks for pulling up in a boat. Those that do not have their own boat will be able to take a water taxi service out to the floating attraction.

“We wanted it to look like something rising out of the water. Something rather than a boat or a barge that is placed on the water. Almost like an island or an oasis in a desert,” said Jay Keller of SPACE Architects + Planners about the design.



The proposal also includes a multi-part sustainability plan in an attempt to be “truly [in] harmony with its environment.” The hull of the craft will include an underwater garden to help absorb potentially dangerous nutrients from the water, a common problem in the Great Lakes caused by runoff. The Breakwater is also planning to use renewable energy sources including photovoltaics, solar water heating, aqua thermal cooling, and potentially even kinetic wave power. And despite not being a building, the project will also follow LEED. standards when at all possible.

While no expected launch dates have been announced, a new video gives the most complete look at the proposal so far. You can learn more about Breakwater Chicago on its website.

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