Posts tagged with "Chicago River":

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Carol Ross Barney will discuss the transformation of the Chicago River this Friday at NYC’s FIT

It is hard to imagine the existence of Chicago or even this country’s industrial revolution without the Chicago River. The State of Illinois's 1887 decision to reverse the flow of water from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River made it possible to move goods through the city and eventually down to the Gulf of Mexico. The river has always had a mythic, if slightly detached, relationship to Chicago until the last few years. But a recent effort has transformed the river and its constructed banks into a major public space for the city, particularly its downtown Loop. No architect has been more responsible for this transformation than Carol Ross Barney. I will be interviewing Barney about her important work transforming the riverside banks into a ‘Riverwalk’ this Friday, May 12th for NYCxDesign's NYC Design Talks. The Q&A—which is free and open to the public—will take place at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Katie Murphy Amphitheater from 3:00 to 4:00pm. See the event's webpage here for more details.
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City of Chicago asks architects to envision future of riverfront

A group of architectural firms will work with the City of Chicago to develop design concepts for a substantial new portion to the Chicago's quickly developing riverfront. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD), and the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) announced the launch of the Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab. The participating firms include David Adjaye, James Corner Field Operations, Perkins+Will, Ross Barney Architects, Sasaki, Site Design, SOM, Studio Gang Architects, and SWA. “Following the successful completion of the latest sections of the Chicago Riverwalk and with a number of riverfront developments in progress across the city, including the planning process for the North Branch Industrial Corridor around Goose Island, now is the perfect time to engage the architectural community to help us create new river edge guidelines,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Each of the listed firms has extensive experience with designing award-winning riverfronts, public spaces, and parks around the world. The Ideas Lab will gather new concepts from the firms while engaging the local and global community for feedback. Each of the firms will submit more formal design proposals by June 2017, which will then be displayed to the public during the second Chicago Architecture Biennial. The information gathered throughout the process will also be used to inform the city’s riverfront design guidelines, which are planned to be released in 2018. Along with the physical exhibition, WSP Parsons Brnckerhoff, with support from Comcast, will produce digital exhibition components that will include augmented and virtual reality experiences (viewed via cell phones). Additional installations using California company Owlized's virtual reality technology will also be developed. The Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab will be funded by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Comcast. The announcement by the city came as the Mayor, along with Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, hosted an 18-mayor conference on to discuss the future of urban waterways. The conference, held in downtown Chicago, included input from Jeanne Gang. “On behalf of all of the firms participating in the Ideas Lab, we’re honored and excited to get to work. Chicago’s rivers are an amazing landscape and waterscape that can connect our neighborhoods, enliven our civic life, and provide solace, all at the same time,” said Carol Ross Barney. Ross Barney Architects, along with Sasaki, were responsible for the design of Chicago’s current Riverwalk
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Studio Gang completes a second public boathouse along the Chicago River

As the first snow of the season fell, a large crowd gathered along a quiet bend in the South Branch of the Chicago River. Jovial groups of teens, community members, and public officials were all there for the opening of the Eleanor Boathouse at Park 571 in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. The boathouse is the second designed by Studio Gang Architects and the final of four boathouses planned for the Chicago River.

The boathouses are part of a much larger movement within the city to connect the public with the underutilized river. Though the river is still heavily polluted—two half-sunken boats can be seen up river from the Eleanor Boathouse—the city is quickly improving its resources along the shore. The boathouses specifically provide space for rowing teams to train, kayaks to be rented, and people to directly access the water.

“The Eleanor Boathouse supports the larger movement of ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the opening. “For too long, Chicago residents were cut off from an asset in our own backyard. So today, we are transforming our rivers from relics of our industrial past to anchors for our neighborhoods’ futures.”

Like Studio Gang’s earlier iteration, the Eleanor Boathouse takes its form from the rhythmic movements of rowers. Divided into two structures, undulating rooflines allow for clerestories, which bring soft light into the project. The lofty interior of the 13,171-square-foot boat storage structure can hold up to 75 boats for use by several rowing teams, clubs, and organizations. The other structure is a 5,832-square-foot field house that contains a multipurpose community room, main office, open seating area, restrooms, and showers, and can accommodate 57 “erg” machines, which simulate rowing movements for training purposes. A dark zinc facade wraps most of the project, while one face of the boat storage building is a custom green gradient window screen.

While Chicago’s winters can be brutal, the boathouse is already under heavy use. Rowing teams train in the river nearly year-round and there is also classroom and activity space for after-school and community programs. “This connects us to the origins of the city. The river is the first reason that the native peoples and eventually Fort Dearborn were settled here,” said Studio Gang’s Managing Principal Mark Schendel at the opening. “And it is that potential to come back to that amazing resource and put citizens back on the water. It is the type of project, as architects, we love to do.”

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Chicago River Trail Action Plan connects Chicago with its river

In an effort to advocate for a continuous trail along vast lengths of the Chicago River, the Active Transportation Alliance recently released its Chicago River Trail Action Plan. The hope is to connect existing trails and parks throughout the city with the North and South Branches of the Chicago river. The plan outlines key steps by which the trail could be realized. Currently, about half of the Chicago River's 27 miles of riverfront have existing trails, with more trails already planned. As the downtown Chicago Riverwalk has recently been completed, the focus on improvements to the river is now shifting out into the neighborhoods. By working with community organizations in neighborhoods along the river, the Active Transportation Alliance specifically highlights seven more miles of riverfront as likely candidates for new trails. Perhaps the most notable recommendation in the Action Plan is to connect some of the city’s newest and proposed parks, as well as multiple proposed developments, to the river. If connected, the network of parks and trails would directly serve the more than 900,000 Chicagoans that live within one mile of the River. On the near north side, the 606 linear park currently stops just short of the river, while the El Paseo Trail on the near south side will have a similar situation. The current redevelopment of the former Lathrop Homes public housing projects and the anticipated redevelopment of the industrial Goose Island both are being planned with the river as a main feature. Yet building along the river is not always a simple matter. In certain sections of the river, no path can be built on land. In these areas floating or suspended decks will have to be used. The Action Plan divides the river into seven zones. Assets and opportunities for each zone are listed along with a list of actionable steps for local stakeholders to take. For many of the zones, plans have already been proposed by designers, planners, and architects. As outlined in the plan, PORT Urbanism is responsible for an intricate path that would connect the 606 park with the river trail, while Ross Barney Architects has designed other sections of the river, including the now completed downtown Riverwalk. Other input on the plan came from a variety of sources including architecture firms such as Perkins & Will, Moss Deisgn, and Hoerr Schaudt, as well as other public space advocacy groups like the Metropolitan Planning Council, the North River Commission, and the Friends of the Chicago River. The full plan can be found here.
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Chicago and Philadelphia–based PORT Urbanism wants to redesign your city

PORT Urbanism is positioning itself to fill a very particular niche in the world of city making. The office is neither a landscape firm nor an architecture firm alone: It approaches projects with a vision that ranges from grand scheme master plans down to design at a human scale. With the recent addition of a new partner, it now has the pedigree and experience to engage in the high-stakes projects that are so often handed to firms many times its size. More and more often those projects involve the waterfronts of postindustrial cities across the country, and with a name like PORT, the firm is not surprisingly ready for the challenge.

PORT’s new partner, Megan Born, comes to the firm from James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), where she spent eight years as a designer and project manager. While at JCFO, she was lead designer on the much-anticipated Waterfront Seattle Program master plan, as well as project designer on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong. Her expertise will complement that of PORT partner Christopher Marcinkoski, who was a senior associate at JCFO before cofounding PORT. Marcinkoski, a licensed architect and a Rome Prize Fellow, also contributed expertise in waterfront design, as he was project lead on the Qianhai Water City district of Shenzhen, China, while at JCFO. Both work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia—Born as a lecturer and Marcinkoski as an associate professor of landscape architecture and urban design.

Currently working with the ambitious young R2 developers in Chicago, PORT is in the process of envisioning the future of Goose Island. An industrial island in the middle of the Chicago River’s North Branch, Goose Island is poised to become one of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Currently, it is completely zoned for industry, but as the surrounding neighborhoods quickly develop, the smart bet is on it becoming more programmatically diverse. PORT’s master plan takes into account the uncertainty of the island’s future while proposing improvements that will benefit whatever eventually happens there.

The island was formed by a canal that was dug to straighten out the river, a common occurrence in 19th-century Chicago. Now, however, that canal is no longer navigable. PORT imagines that this wet, and currently polluted, stretch of water can become an integral and unique part of the river’s rehabilitation into a recreational corridor. It is clear that it is only a matter of time before this prime location, just minutes outside of the downtown, will be more than a sleepy maze of shuttered warehouses and factories. PORT and R2 plan to be there to guide the way.

“Some of the largest attributes of water and waterfronts are their scale and connectivity,” explained Andrew Moddrell, partner and cofounder of PORT. “You always have this edge that you can’t completely occupy: the water. If you can connect the parcels along this edge, you’ll be able to set up the means of an accessibility that is uninterrupted and that unlocks new territories of the city. Previously all of these places were productive industrially by maximizing this connectivity. Now they are ripe again to be reconnected.”

Though PORT may be making a name for itself with waterscape projects, what defines the practice is its particular approach. Whether a waterfront, and urban park, or a former industrial district, PORT is not interested in simply drawing large arrows on maps and saying how great it would be to have a bike share program in the area. Instead, it does the math, talks to the stakeholders, and designs a way to achieve their vision, down to the individual’s experience. This separates them from other landscape firms that might only focus on the space around the buildings, as well as from the urban planner who so often provides bullet point guidance without a true design component. Add in the fact that two of the partners are licensed architects, and the firm’s thorough approach begins to make sense. There are few firms that are able, or willing, to take on the complex types of projects that PORT has made its bread and butter.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

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Chicago digs deep to fight flooding, but the city’s geology may provide another solution

When it rains, Chicago faces challenges from above and below: With 25 percent of the city paved-over, rain can't reach the soil and absorb the onslaught of water. An aging and under-capacity sewer system causes regular flooding and even sewage discharge into nearby water bodies. The challenge is immense—for Chicago, one inch of rainfall equals four billion gallons. Until recently Chicago’s answer to the problem has been an infrastructure project no less than epic—read costly—in scale. But one landscape architect is leading an effort to change how the city can unlock its hidden potential for storm water management. Chicago’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), also known as the Deep Tunnel Project, is the latest in the city’s massive water projects. Following in the footsteps of extensive canal digging around the turn of the 19th century, the TARP is a 50-year project that started in 1975. Completed 19 years ago, phase one of the project includes over 100 miles of tunnels ranging up to 33 feet in diameter. These tunnels are reservoirs for over two billion gallons of sewage overflow, waiting to be treated. Surface reservoirs are planned to hold another 15 billion gallons when the project is complete in 2029. In the past 30 years, the project has had some success in mitigating the situation, but at a cost of $3 billion so far. Some feel there is another, more immediate way to help at the neighborhood level. Mary Pat McGuire, landscape architect and assistant professor at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, has been working with her students, geologists and coastal researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey to map porous, naturally occurring sand deposits located just under Chicago’s surface that could absorb rainfall. To find the best test sites for anti-flooding interventions, McGuire is matching the deposits, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline and running up to 25 feet deep, with heavily paved areas that flood frequently. Next, she aims to find local partners—likely community advocacy groups—who will support her to implement design prototypes that could include de-paving, installing dry wells and monitoring equipment, and even introducing new absorbent materials. What would such an intervention look like? "Pattern is going to be an important way for people to recognize that something is happening there…[that] it's not an accident." Abandoned or underused sites could also take up a variety of public programming over time. But first and foremost, "the ultimate goal [is] designing water where it falls."
Even with the massive TARP project underway, parts of Chicago may not be getting the desperate attention they need when it comes to flooding. According to McGuire, “first Chicago” gets more preferential treatment while other areas are neglected (as documented by flood insurance claims). “There's an inequity in terms of the ways [city government] is dealing with the situation." She believes community organizers and alderman in affected areas will need to push for on-the-ground solutions. “If Chicagoans understood the cause of their regular and widespread flooding,” she added, “They might rise up and say 'City, you're not providing enough public works for us.'" She argued that working back into the paved surface across the City would alleviate problems for all, including overflows into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
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A new proposal would turn a stagnant abandoned Chicago waterway into a community amenity

Few people, architects or otherwise, have thought about the Chicago River as much as Ross Barney Architects. The firm’s experience includes the ever-growing Riverwalk in Chicago’s downtown, studies for the river as a transportation corridor, and extensive time spent working with the city on major infrastructural projects. When given a charge to propose a speculative project for the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards exhibition, it took the chance to expand on a project that had been floating (pun intended) around the office. The result is an urban natural space where there is currently a smelly abandoned channel in the city’s Little Village neighborhood.     

The South Side neighborhood is one of the most underserved, in terms of public space, in the entire city. Even worse, the neighborhood has the Collateral Channel, which once connected the natural channel of the Chicago River to the Shipping and Sanitation Channel. The natural Chicago River no longer exists, so the stagnant body serves no one. As the canal is no longer used, it is no longer dredged, which has led to its polluted bed having a severe methane-leeching problem. This, in turn, has prompted the local nickname of Ass Creek, due to the intolerable smell that bubbles up and wafts over Little Village.

Ross Barney Architects saw more than just a putrid nuisance in the Collateral Channel, though. Instead, the office took the opportunity to connect to a project the Chicago Department of Transportation is already spearheading called the Little Village Paseo. The Paseo is planned to be a linear park that will take the place of a former rail line through the neighborhood. So Ross Barney envisioned turning Ass Creek into Ass(et) Creek, a place where the community could directly interact with the river. Ass(et) Creek proposes to continue the Paseo to the river via the channel.

Though Ass(et) Creek is a speculative proposal, the work on the channel and the movement toward the river is already beginning. The city has started to pump water through the channel, and other studies have been done in an attempt to counteract the smell. Yet if anyone has experience with working with the river in Chicago, it is Ross Barney. The office has spent well over a decade working the city’s Riverwalk, navigating the politics and construction issues associated with building in water.

Ross Barney Architects see Ass(et) Creek as larger than just a luxury amenity. The big picture includes bringing access to clean recreation and athletic spaces to an area that needs it. From there, the firm imagines a new water-taxi stop at the site that would provide the neighborhood with a direct connection to the downtown. The relationship of Chicagoans to the river would be quickly reversed from odorous disdain to point of pride.

The vision of a Chicago River that is clean enough to swim in is shared by many, including the mayor and even President Obama. Though that day might not be right around the corner, it is coming, and Ross Barney Architects is ready to give everyone a place to jump in.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

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Norman Foster plants a new Apple Store in the heart of Chicago

Foster + Partners has revealed initial images of a proposed Apple store at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. The new store will replace their existing Michigan Avenue flagship store six blocks to the north. Echoing the company’s 5th Avenue store in New York, the design calls for a large, mostly glass structure with an expanded retail space below ground. Unlike the 5th Avenue store, and more akin to Foster’s recent Aix-en-Provence, France Apple iteration, the new Chicago Store will feature a light solid roof suspended on two large columns. Located on, and below, Pioneer Square, the store will have one of the most visible locations in the city, surrounded by some of Chicago’s most iconic architectural landmarks. The square itself is flanked by the Tribune Tower to the north, the modernist Bruce Graham designed 401 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the Equitable Building) to the East, and the Wrigley Building immediately across Michigan Avenue. The view up the river to the west will also include the Trump Tower, Marina City, and Mies’ AMA Plaza (formerly IBM Plaza), making this location one of the most recognized tourist, not to mention retail, locations in the city. The 20,000-square-foot retail space will occupy an unused cafeteria at Lower Michigan Avenue. The store will also engage with the infrequently used Riverwalk along the north bank of the river. New balustrades and stairs will be added, as well as the 34-foot-tall glass wall of the store itself. According to representatives from Foster + Partners at a recent courtesy presentation to the City Planning Commission, there will be no retail at the surface Pioneer Square level, with the 14-foot-above-grade glass structure acting as a grand entrance. The city has already approved the project, and construction is planned to begin next year.
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Exclusive Video> Paddle along with Jeanne Gang as she kayaks the Chicago River

If you start at Studio Gang’s acclaimed Aqua Tower and follow the Chicago River about six miles north you will find yourself at another eye-catching building by the increasingly in-demand firm. The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, completed in 2013, sits along the very polluted north branch of the river and has a dramatic profile inspired by the rhythm of rowers’ oars. (The building is named for the gaming technology company that contributed to the project and has offices directly across the river.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJsaAPfZX50&feature=youtu.be The boathouse is one of four commissioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help draw people toward—and hopefully onto—the city’s industrial and neglected waterways, which he calls Chicago’s “next recreational frontier.” The idea is that if Chicagoans come to see the rivers as an urban asset it will create momentum to get them cleaned up. And any environmental revitalization would go hand-in-hand with economic revitalization, especially outside of the city's core where the first phase of the Riverwalk opened this summer. Studio Gang—which designed two of the structures, the second of which recently broke ground on Chicago’s south side—was an obvious choice for Emanuel’s bold river vision. In 2011, the firm, working with the Natural Resource Defense Council and students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, published Reverse Effect—a 116-page book that lays out the waterways’ history and proposes innovative ways to renew them. (The Chicago-based Johnson & Lee oversaw the other pair of boathouses.) The Architect’s Newspaper recently visited the WMS Boathouse with Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang, and went kayaking with her to talk about the boathouse, the river, and how her firm plans to continue producing unique architecture as its influence expands around the Midwest and beyond.
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Developers tap Perkins + Will principal to help redevelop site adjacent to Bertrand Goldberg’s River City

Plans for 2,700 new homes along the Chicago River have some neighbors and realtors calling a long-vacant lot near the Willis Tower by a new name. “River South” refers to a few sites, among them: a 7.3-acre riverside parcel between Harrison Street and the River City condo complex designed by Bertrand Goldberg. As Crain's Chicago Business reports, that's where developers CMK and Lend Lease are planning five towers with nearly 2,700 residential units, anchored by a 47-story building with 626 units. The developers tapped Perkins + Will principal Ralph Johnson to draft a master plan for the area. Whether or not the River South moniker sticks, the area has generated renewed interest from real estate watchers. Two other Chicago developers, D2 Realty and Phoenix Development Partners, have previously hinted at a large, mixed-use development on a 1.6 acre-parcel nearby. According to Crain's, developer Related Midwest is in talks to develop another 62-acre property at Roosevelt Road and the Chicago River.
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The Chicago River was reversed 115 years ago—this infographic tells its story

Via Chicago Line Cruises, this infographic tells the tale of one of the greatest engineering projects ever completed: the reversal of the Chicago River. Chicago was booming in the late 1800s, but like many cities of the day it lacked proper sewer infrastructure. As a result the city was choking on its own waste. To solve the problem, engineers launched a project so demanding it spawned its own informal textbook of geological-scale interventions: the Chicago School of Earth Moving. By reversing the river, Chicagoans sent their waterborne waste into the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, instead of into Lake Michigan. That decision was controversial at the time, and part of the reason Chicago got away with flushing their refuse past St. Louis is that engineers blasted the decisive dam to start the new flow in the middle of the night on New Years Day—just in time to preempt a lawsuit coming together in St. Louis. Today the decision is still controversial—for its contribution to toxic algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, and for its otherwise unprecedented withdrawal of fresh water from the Great Lakes—but it has also come to be revered for its sheer engineering bombast. The American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999 named The Chicago Wastewater System a "Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium."
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Chicago opens newest segment of revamped Riverwalk

Despite a smattering of gray skies, Chicago inaugurated another stretch of its revamped riverwalk this Memorial Day weekend, and visitors were eager to explore the newly expanded public space. Kayakers, pedestrians, locals and tourists alike came to check out the partially opened project, which will remain under construction through the summer. Along with Ross Barney Architects, Benesch, and Jacobs Ryan and the Chicago Department of Transportation, Sasaki Associates led design on the project—a major component of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's bid to rebrand the Chicago River as the city's “second shoreline.” Work began in 2013, and many of the storefronts built along the riverwalk's newest section—from State Street to Clark Street—still await tenants. Construction work continued right up until opening day.
https://twitter.com/DillonGoodson/status/603226446484656128 https://twitter.com/MASContext/status/602684099443105792 https://twitter.com/chrisdmerritt/status/602313220930560002 https://twitter.com/mdsmith577/status/602261780560277504 Curbed Chicago rounded up some more photos of the riverwalk from this weekend.