Get ready, Chicago: the Navy Pier is coming back just in time for summer. Renowned landscape architecture and design firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) recently completed the first phase of the iconic public space by redeveloping it in a bolder, greener, and more contemporary “people’s pier.” The historic site will kick off its 100th-year celebration this Friday with a brand new environmentally friendly, world-class public space.
Located on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan, the Navy Pier is one of the most popular attractions in the Midwest and the most visited destination in the city. The pier opened to the public in 1916 as part of Daniel Burnham’s “Master Plan of Chicago,” however, has suffered the reputation as a over-commercialized tourist trap. In a bid to return the historic pier to locals and redefine it as a more welcoming urban park, JFCO reimagined the space as a 24-acre “green spine” that better connects Lake Michigan with the city through a series of plazas, museums, theaters, and other destinations, while still retaining authentic Chicagoan characteristics.
Major features of the first completed phase include improved circulation routes with more welcoming pathways for pedestrians and cyclists; a dramatic Polk Bros Fountain and Plaza that doubles as an ice skating rink in winter; an nArchitects-designed “Wave Wall;” and a revamped South Dock Promenade with new herring-bone paving, large shade trees, landscaping, social furniture, kiosks, and pavilions. The new Navy Pier is on track to be one of the world’s first SITES® certified projects, a US Green Building Council-developed distinction that evaluates and honors sustainable landscapes.
“We are excited to celebrate the completion of the first-phase transformation of Navy Pier and the return of a new ‘People’s Pier,’” says James Corner, founder and design director of James Corner Field Operations. “We have reimagined South Dock as a new green spine that extends all the way from Lake Michigan back into the city and anchors a series of plazas, museums, theaters, restaurants, and social destinations that exemplify the vitality of Chicago life and culture.” The official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the Navy Pier on May 27, 2016 and will be followed by yearlong festivities.
Images via James Corner Field Operations