Posts tagged with "Chicago Riverwalk":

Placeholder Alt Text

What is the future of the Chicago riverfront?

While many architects moon over biennials and architecture festivals, these shows are often a bit esoteric for the general public. The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is no exception. Amidst the complex discussions and abstract installations, the average visitor may enjoy the show, but also feel a bit disconnected. However, there is one show at CAB that anyone would find accessible. Located in EXPO 72 across the street from the Chicago Cultural Center, the exhibition, Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab, presents the visions of nine firms for the Chicago River. Chicago Urban River Edges Ideas Lab was initiated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Council to solicit proposals for the city’s quickly evolving riverfront. Firms participating in the show include David Adjaye, James Corner Field Operations, Perkins + Will, Ross Barney Architects, Sasaki, Site Design, SOM, Studio Gang Architects, and SWA. Each firm addressed three sites along the river with designs that ranged from outdoor theater spaces to water remediation and ecological classrooms. Other ideas included policy suggestions, such as SWA’s forest bonus, rather than a density bonus. Multiple offices proposed ways of engaging more closely with the river itself, including James Corner Field Operation’s softened edge and Perkins+Will’s riverside beach. The three sections of the river addressed by the show are the Civic Opera House, the Congress Parkway, and the Air Line Bridge. Each of these sites present different challenges which the city hopes to resolve. While large stretches of the riverfront have already been converted into the Chicago Riverwalk, there are over 156 miles that have yet to be developed or connected with public walkways and activity spaces. The initial downtown stretch of redeveloped space was designed by Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki, and was completed earlier this year. The exhibition, which was also designed by Ross Barney Architects, aims to engage public feedback and present ambitious yet feasible visions of the river’s future. Throughout, large renderings with texts allow visitors to compare proposals side by side. Those interested are directed to the project's extensive website to watch interviews with the architects, watch animated shorts about the proposals, and send commentary to the city and designers. “We thought this would be a great way to bring together a bunch of very creative folks, as well as help Chicagoans begin to imagine how this could work and what their place in it would be,” explained Josh Ellis, vice president of Metropolitan Planning Council at the exhibition opening. While the exhibition is not intended to be a competition, it is clear that each of the offices poured resources and brain power into the project. The Department of Planning and Development as well as the Mayor’s office have been explicit in their search for ideas for the future of the river. “This is just a snapshot of how serious each of these teams took this. These are meant to be ideas that can be realized,” said Clare Cahan, studio design director at Studio Gang at the opening. “There are things that will be attractive to communities, attractive to the city, and attractive to developers.”
Placeholder Alt Text

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
Placeholder Alt Text

The much-anticipated final phase of the Chicago Riverwalk is complete after years of planning and construction

It has been over a decade since Chicago began to redevelop its downtown riverfront, with Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki leading the design. With the recent completion of Phase III, the new mile-and-a-half public park known as the Riverwalk is now open. Divided into separate “rooms” between the famed bascule bridges, the Riverwalk provides a series of new programs for the downtown.

While the dream of swimming in the Chicago River is still far from reality, Chicagoans are now able to get closer to the river than ever before. Since the completion of phase two, the Riverwalk has become a favorite gathering space for downtown business people at lunchtime and a weekend hotspot for tourists. New restaurants and bars provide outdoor seating along the water, while kayaks can be rented for those looking to get up close and personal. A grand staircase-ramp between upper Wacker Drive and the river, known as the River Theater, can often be found filled with people sitting, reading, exercising, or simply people-watching. Those with their own boats can pull up to multiple tie-ups, drawing many large yachts from Lake Michigan. Part of phase three includes large floating planters, as well as one of the most anticipated additions to the Riverwalk, a large interactive water plaza. 

A major challenge in realizing the continuity of the Riverwalk was connecting the separate rooms. The seemingly simple task was made more complicated by the fact that pedestrians frequently pass under the bascule drawbridges, whose permeable decks see some of Chicago’s heaviest traffic. In order to separate the public from the mechanics of the over one-hundred-year-old bridges and shield them from any falling debris from the road above, Ross Barney Architects designed canopies to cover the floating paths between the rooms. These canopies are wrapped in metallic paneling, reflecting the dappled light off of the water.

Along with Ross Barney Architects, a large team was brought together to realize the project, including Chicago-based landscape architects Jacobs/Ryan Associates, with Massachusetts-based Sasaki acting as prime consultant. Outside of the design, Friends of the Chicago River and Great Rivers Chicago advocated for the Riverwalk. Both groups are dedicated to remediating the river, with a goal of a clean, swimmable river by 2040.

Ever since the opening of the first sections of the Riverwalk, the new park has been showered with praise and awards. This year, AIA Chicago gave the Riverwalk with its highest honor, a Distinguished Building Honor Award. In addition, the project was awarded the 2012 Divine Detail Award by AIA Chicago, the 2010 Architect magazine “Move” Citation, and AIA Illinois’s 2007 Daniel Burnham Award, among others. Most recently the Riverwalk was awarded The Architect’s Newspaper’s 2016 Urban Design Award.

Placeholder Alt Text

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."
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago wants your ideas for the future of the Chicago River

What's downstream for the Chicago River? Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week directed a panel of experts to draft a long-term plan for the network of Chicago-area waterways, announcing $350,000 in grants from the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and steel company ArcelorMittal to start a project dubbed “Great Rivers Chicago.” With the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk well underway—the Sasaki Associates–led project is supposed to open its first portions over Memorial Day weekend—the river is enjoying a surge of attention once unimaginable for a body of water better known historically for its pollution than its public space. Over the next 15 months, however, the city-appointed group—the Metropolitan Planning Council and Friends of the Chicago River, as well as “topical experts and community stakeholders”—will seek ideas for all the rivers that comprise the subwatershed known as the Chicago Area Waterway System, including the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Cal-Sag Channel, and the Calumet Rivers. The city launched a website, greatriverschicago.com, which so far just lists facts about the area's rivers and links to a survey meant to inform their future planning process. It asks Chicagoans to describe their current interaction with the river system, and how they'd like that to change. (The full riverwalk team includes lead architects Ross Barney Architects, as well as Jacobs Ryan Associates, Alfred Benesch & Company, and Schuler & Shook, in addition to Sasaki Associates.)
Placeholder Alt Text

Video> How Sasaki is transforming the Chicago Riverwalk

As construction crews continue to pull the Chicago Riverwalk farther into the city’s iconic waterway, Sasaki Associates has released a short documentary about the $100 million transformation. And it’s worth a watch because what's happening in Chicago is more than your typical “reclaiming public space” type of story. Yes, the Riverwalk is reclaiming public space, but that public space is not the typical brownfield site or underused lot—it’s the Chicago River. And building a 3.5-acre public park on top of it is no easy task. When complete, the Riverwalk will have a seamless path that connects its distinct segments: the marina, the cove, the river theater, the water plaza, and the jetty. Collectively, the Riverwalk includes new seating, floating wetland gardens, piers, and a water plaza. And let's not forget the kayaks—there will be plenty of those too. Watch above to see how Sasaki, Ross Barney Architects, and the Chicago Department of Transportation are making all of this possible.
Placeholder Alt Text

Construction of Chicago Riverwalk Underway; City Looks at Funding Options

Chicago’s Riverwalk extension is underway, and the city is looking for contractors to help plan and operate concessions along what promises to be a major downtown attraction. Applicants have until April 7 to reply to the city’s request for qualifications. Chicago Riverwalk 1 The project got a major infusion of federal cash last year, but now Chicago is looking for private entities to help arrange for concessions—think bike rentals, kiosks, cafes, retail—along the riverside promenade, which will expand the Riverwalk six blocks. Federal transportation loans to be paid back over 35 years won’t be enough to fully finance the project, so the city is still considering sponsorship and advertising. Last year the city’s then-transportation chief Gabe Klein promised "Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited.” Conceptual plans establish identities for each of the Riverwalk extension’s six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin); and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). Chicago’s plan to reengage its “second shoreline” follows similar efforts that have had success in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London, among others.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Riverwalk Work To Begin Soon, Alderman’s Office Says

Construction will begin soon on the highly-anticipated expansion to Chicago's Riverwalk, Ald. Brendan Reilly’s office announced last week. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will start work this fall. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced late last year plans to lengthen the downtown riverwalk, retaining Sasaki Associates, Ross Barney Architects, Alfred Benesch & Co., and Jacobs/Ryan Associates to redesign and enliven the city's "second shoreline". Each of the six blocks will have distinctive identities: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). In the works since a public development process settled the riverwalk’s general design in 1999, the project secured $100 million in June from the USDOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. That money will cover the vast majority of the project, but the City will also pursue sponsorship opportunities for ongoing maintenance and operations. Development along the Chicago River is not limited to the riverwalk. High-profile projects include Wolf Point, River Point and Goettsch Partners and Ted Wolff Landscape Archtiects' 150 N. Riverside.
Placeholder Alt Text

“City Works” envisions Chicago’s “dreams and nightmares”

From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. It also presents “a series of urban environments that are typical for Chicago,” meditating through the work of four prominent local designers on some of the city’s contemporary challenges: waterways, industry, shelter, and vacancy. To borrow Eisenschmidt’s metaphor, the aim is to turn potential nightmares into visionary dreams. Studio Gang’s work on urban waterways is well-known and their work here, titled “Reclaiming the Edge,” reprises the vision they laid out in Reverse Effect and other publications: a riverfront community and restored natural habitat nourish each other in a kind of urban symbiosis. After years of legal wrangling, Chicago’s Water Reclamation District will soon disinfect the wastewater it dumps back into the river, signaling some substantive progress on water quality. Meanwhile the Chicago Riverwalk grows along the waterway's main branch. UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn & Martin Felsen present “Free Water District,” a vision that also draws on Chicago’s aquatic resources. Rust Belt cities share many challenges stemming from deindustrialization, but they also share a common asset: water. UrbanLab’s piece envisions a Great Lakes region revitalized by water-focused industries, in a “megastructure-scaled public/private land/water partnership.” Stanley Tigerman offers a rumination on shelter in both the spatial and spiritual sense with “Displacement of the Gridiron with the Cloister.” His target is the “ineffable in architecture,” which is philosophical enough to mean many things to many people who might have very different ideas of the city’s urban aspirations. “The Available City” by David Brown displays a similar yearning, manifesting the city’s 15,000 city-owned vacant lots as blots of color bubbling up amid fractured neighborhoods. The bright colors, which appear to denote potential programs for unused space, could mean anything — adaptive reuse, public space, space-age capsule hotel — but the important thing is they reanimate dead spaces that total an area twice the size of the Loop. All four panoramas will eventually connect, sharing continuous topographic or development features. But until the closing days of the show they remain separate, traveling slowly along dotted lines that traverse the small exhibition space. “By pulling them apart,” Eisenschmidt said, “there’s a little suspense.” City Works, adapted from the 2013 Biennale in Venice, returned to its city of origin May 24. And these “provocations” are not Eisenschmidt’s first. In 2011 the University of Illinois at Chicago professor’s Visionary Chicago (reviewed here for A|N by Philip Berger) stirred conversation about bold building while the real estate market languished. The free show is open at Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St., seven days per week through September 29. Listen to a conference on the topic, held September 22, 2012 and recorded by WBEZ. Watch 50 meters of the "Phantom Chicago" wall panorama scroll by:
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Riverwalk gets $99 million loan from feds

Chicago’s plan to extend and revamp its downtown riverwalk got a major shot in the arm from the feds last week. U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal government will loan the city $99 million under the Transportation Finance Innovation Act, a program geared at transportation projects of “national and regional significance.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel had previously set his sights on just such funding, as well as financial sponsors for ongoing maintenance. The project, which is scheduled to be finished by 2016, hopes to draw more attention to the riverfront. Designs by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects, and Jacobs/Ryan Associates call for six unique identities across six downtown blocks of the Chicago River, such as The Jetty, The Cove, and The River Theater. Read more about the design in AN's previous report.
Placeholder Alt Text

Lessons for Chicago’s Riverwalk: Engage With The City

As Chicago gears up for an overhaul of the city’s Riverwalk, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his architectural cause célèbre as a way for the city to reengage with its “second shoreline.” The renderings by Sasaki Associates show six new blocks of riverfront parks, effectively connecting the shore of Lake Michigan with a small park at the foot of  the three massive towers planned for Wolf Point, at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches. Chicago Magazine scribe Whet Moser has a good suggestion for "Emanuel's latest obsession": learn from other riverwalks. The three he points to are in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London. Indianapolis has come back considerably from the depths of its urban flight. Its riverwalk should be a big beneficiary of that resurgence, but Moser quotes an Urbanophile blogger who notes Indy’s riverwalk remains relatively separate from its downtown business district. San Antonio and London took steps to integrate their riverwalks into the surrounding communities by adding mixed-use and expanding into neighborhoods beyond downtown. The plans as presented currently are ambitious in engaging the river downtown, but they focus on recreation rather than retail. While a riverside shopping mall is not ideal, a little more room for mixed-use development probably would enhance the experience. Likewise, the six blocks planned lay a framework for expanding into neighborhoods along the river to the north and south of the Loop, but are currently limited to downtown. Ping Tom Park in Chinatown is not far away, and one can even imagine (with a little optimism) that the industrial legacy of Goose Island just to the north could be reborn with a bit of greenspace. And other cities around the Midwest are renewing their riverfronts, as well. Des Moines' new riverwalk is nearing completion, and Detroit’s recently got a boost in funding to build on a design competition spotlight. Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates are the designers on the project.