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Pierscape - Navy Pier

James Corner Field Operations, Gensler

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Navy Pier, Inc.
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Project Description


Navy Pier Inc. unveiled details of the design for redevelopment of a bolder, greener, more contemporary Pier that will transform the Midwest’s most popular attraction into a spectacular world-class destination.
As it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016, Navy Pier is set to embark on a journey that culminates in its reimagining as an iconic attraction that will “re-connect Chicago to the Lake, to culture and to spectacle.” Work on the Pier’s “Centennial Vision” redevelopment is scheduled to begin this fall.
Redevelopment of the Pier is part of a major public-private infrastructure program to boost Chicago’s tourism and convention and trade show business, stimulate economic growth and job creation and enhance the quality of life for residents of the region.
The redevelopment builds on the strengths of the Pier—its singular location along the edge of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, its size and scale and its programmatic richness. It seeks to enhance the experience for current visitors while drawing new audiences with evening and year-round entertainment and attractions. Other core objectives are to improve the quality of the Pier’s public realm, better connect with the city and local neighborhoods, create more activity further east on the Pier, promote environmental sustainability and ensure financial sustainability.
The redesign of the Pier’s public spaces, or Pierscape, is the product of collaboration between the Navy Pier Inc. board and staff, a design team led by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), a New York-based landscape architecture and urban design firm, and the City of Chicago. The Chicago office of the global architecture firm Gensler has worked on redesigning the interior spaces and has served as executive architect, coordinating the exterior and interior redesign. Gensler also played a key role in creation of the Centennial Vision.
Transforming the Pier’s public realm requires “a strong landscape that is clear and rigorous in organization, simple and bold in its design ideas, and rich and evocative in its detailing.” This goal will be achieved by emphasizing South Dock as a new “green spine” for the Pier. Straightening and lengthening this primary pedestrian promenade allows for a new physical connection between the lake and city.
A series of programmatically diverse, thematic rooms are anchored by this spine and provide a strategic organizational framework for the Pier. Seasonal and colorful plantings, engaging water features, contemporary architecture, and social site furniture animate the Pier and provide a new distinctive and engaging character in signature areas.
In addition to the creation of a new Pierscape, the redevelopment will include major interior renovations. What is now known as the South Arcade, the interior space adjacent to South Dock, will be transformed into a Chicago-themed specialty food and restaurant marketplace drawing from the city’s rich culinary traditions. The Family Pavilion will be refreshed and opened up, extending the marketplace feel of the redesigned South Arcade but with a greater focus on retail. There, too, the focus will be on showcasing all things Chicago. The upper level of the Pavilion will be home to the expanded Chicago Children’s Museum, expected to open in 2016.
Throughout, the redesign puts a premium on environmentally sustainable practices in its use and management of water and energy, building materials and waste reduction. The project anticipates the achievement of SITES™ certification—a new rating system akin to LEED that aspires to transform land development and management practices for landscapes with or without buildings.
The first phase of the program starting in the fall includes the Gateway Park fountain, plaza and promenade, South Dock, South Arcade, Family Pavilion renovation, Chicago Children’s Museum expansion and the addition of dining and entertainment in the East End entertainment district. Detailed design and completion of Gateway Park, Crystal Garden, Pier Park and the East End Park will be undertaken in later phases as funding becomes available..

For full coverage of the winning proposal, please read
The full project team can be found at
Lastly, the Chicago Tribune posted an update to the competition progress on May 17:,0,3917296.story
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