Chicago’s full throttle sustainability initiatives have given us plenty of reason to think that the “Windy City” may soon upgrade its nickname to the “Greenest City.” Citywide moves like an unprecedented green roof program and a green alley project had already brought much deserved kudos to the lakeside metropolis. Now, Chicago is moving towards their new moniker with another sustainable initiative, the Eco-Bridge, adding yet one more reason for other urban leaders to follow in its lighter footsteps. The proposed Eco-Bridge will serve as a breakwater in the Monroe Harbor and create recreational space for residents and visitors.
The Eco-Bridge was originally conceived in the early 1900s as part of the 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago. The bridge is now being designed by hometown firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The Eco-Bridge is the last of the major recommendations drafted by the master plan to provide recreational opportunities, views of the city, and calm water for rowing and sailing. The two-mile bridge will connect opposite ends of the city center and Grant Park.
To give a modern and sustainable twist to the original idea, wind turbines will also be incorporated in the project to add economic value and show Chicago’s dedication to sustainability. An observation tower will be placed at the center of the bridge, providing spectacular views of the lake and city. The bridge also provides a chance to showcase the ecology of the Great Lakes and provide a safe environment for fish and water plants.
Chicago hopes that the Eco-Bridge will further enhance their bid for the 2016 Olympic Games – they hope the observation tower will be used to house the Olympic flame. It’s really a wonder why it’s taken so long to get this going, it seems like a great idea to promote the city’s sustainable initiatives, add recreational space, and create a draw for tourists.
Plan of Chicago City Center with proposed harbor and bridge from Plan of Chicago published in 1919