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. 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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Party boats are common in Lake Michigan off the shores of Chicago’s more well to do neighborhoods. But local entrepreneur Beau D’Arcy wants to corner that market with Breakwater Chicago—a floating club and leisure destination anchored in the city’s downtown harbor year-round. The 33-year-old engineer told the Chicago Tribune he’s hoping to create the city’s “next Bean,” referencing Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture. To launch the project, which will cost $23 million total, D’Arcy is seeking Kickstarter donations in the amount of $30,000—one dollar for every square foot of Breakwater Chicago’s proposed plan. He hopes to take the vessel on its maiden voyage, as it were, by July 4, 2015. SPACE Architects + Planners designed the floating attraction, which would employ a large dome to shield the “tropical pool environment” during winter. Programming includes three restaurants, a bar/event space, a large swimming pool, a spa, and retail space. Breakwater would drop anchor about a mile off Navy Pier or a bit farther south in the Chicago Harbor during summer months, and be towed into shore during the winter. Private boat-owners could dock off Breakwater, while water taxis would ferry visitors without their own vessels, for a fee of about $20. The team behind Breakwater said they’ll comply with all local, state, and federal laws regarding navigable vessels on Lake Michigan, but regulatory hurdles are no afterthought for the project. “At the completion of Detailed Design, scheduled for this summer, our team should have construction drawings submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard for final review and to shipyards for final bids,” reads the project’s Kickstarter. “Once a shipyard is chosen, construction will begin so that the vessel can be delivered to Chicago late in the spring of 2015.”