Gallery: ECO-BRIDGE: Chicago’s New Harborside Green Space


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.

+ Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
+ Chicago Eco-Bridge

+ Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
+ Chicago Eco-Bridge


or your inhabitat account below


  1. Pointspecial October 12, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve made extensive comments on this elsewhere…

    Comments 95, 97, and 99.

    This is a travesty as currently designed.

  2. buddha June 16, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    I like the wind turbines. But really that money should be used on trains, and buses. How about putting Lakeshore Drive underground, making it a greenway and put wind turbines all along that.

  3. Chicago Streeterville R... June 13, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Chicago is definitily NOT becoming the greenest city. As another poster pointed out, it is total PR spin for the IOC (and the uninformed). This past Wednesday the City Council voted IN FAVOR of the Chicago Children’s Museum land grab in GRANT PARK— public land that was previously protected by law from development for 175 years! Mayor Daley and The Pritkzer’s will not be happy until Grant Park is fully developed to their taste and myopic urban vision (with their sur names emblazoned on every new structure).

    As for Calatrava’s COLOSSAL 2000 ft. phallic tower, this building is massive compared to its neighboring buildings, It grossly dwarfts them, not to mention its immedaite proximity to the lake front and the Chicago River is problemtic.

    IINHABITAT suggests The (Uncircumsized) Spire is PROJECTED to get LEED Gold Rating. Really? You believe the developer, do you? With 1200 condos multiplied by at least one parking space for each unit, how does an influx of a minimum of 1200 cars (i.e., luxury SUVs and gas guzzlers) warrant anything remotely near a LEEDgreen rating?

    BTW: I walk 2 miles to work every morning— often times at my own peril— since Chicago cares more about the right-of-way of cars and buses than pedestrians. The city’s “Traffic Management Security” is a joke!

  4. cpine June 12, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    ….then again, this, along with Calatrava’s Next Big Erection, is intended to accentuate the differences between international monetary power and the poverty of local needs — sort of like Dubai. Like the Palestinians and Indians who have no rights in that shining city, Chicago’s elite will accept imported Central American labor to build all this, and then work to have them deported, so that they don’t mess up the Olympian scenary.

  5. cpine June 12, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Burnham said, “Make no small plans — they have no power to stir men’s blood!” Of course, he had little sense of the Law of Unintended Consequences either…. Looks good in the rendering, sort of like all Imaginary Cities, geometric and pristine, but as a functioning, ecologically (humanly and environmentally) sensible series of integrated programs — No way!! More Daley Dynasty pyramid-building…good honest graft…

  6. todd June 12, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Haha, if Chicago is the greenest city we are all in some serious trouble. There is no recycling in the entire city. None. And it smells like a sewer. Not to mention the CTA buses get 2 miles per gallon. I\’ve never seen a bigger excuse of pork barreling either. Pathetic. And they justify the amount of time and resources this project will take with a few wind turbines. Get a clue.

  7. Universe Man June 11, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Just because something allows people to enjoy nature doesn’t make it green.

  8. sealyah June 11, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    As someone who has sailed out of that harbor for 45 years, I can guarrantee this design will be a complete disaster for the sailing community. The existing inner breakwall extends south (down) from just east of the boat docks at the top of the rendering to just south of Buckingham Fountain and then angles in along the line of mooring cans shown at the south end. This existing harbor is already too large to protect moored boats from being damaged by high winds and waves. White caps, wind driven breaking waves, are common. Permanant slips would be dangerous to use and impossible to insure. The small exit to the lake would be a constant source of congestion, near misses, and accidents. The rendering shows faint lines ot the outer breakwall at the top right. This would have to be removed at least up to the Chicago Light. This plan is about as useful as Daley\’s miles of wrought iron fencing and mid-street planters, and does as little to improve life in the city.

  9. ship June 11, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    i agree with ryan s. although chicago does great things & i love this city to death…they sure know how to sugar coat things. how we are considered a truly “green” city is beyond me. i was just behind a double decker tour bus yesterday that blew out so much black smoke I couldn’t see.

  10. AmberFoxOne June 11, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Fascinating. Its nice to see cities at least trying to conserve energy. This looks like a very clean concept.


  11. Ryan S June 11, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Our city doesnt even have a functioning recycling program outside the 1st Ward, and our public transportation agency is a disaster and almost shut down on three separate occasions last year. There is almost nothing green about this city besides the PR spin.

  12. luther4000 June 11, 2008 at 9:12 am

    I think it is at least questionable that a few wind turbines are enough to qualify this humongous intervention into the Lake as a “green Initiative”. It appears that an initiative that is not green at all like creating a huge space dedicated to humand activities (not considering at all the ecosistems of the lake affected by it) just added wind turbines to wash its face and gain approval from the authorities and city movements.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home