Pierscape, aerial view.

Pierscape, aerial view.

Credit: Courtesy nArchitects | Navy Pier, Inc.


New renderings from James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) highlight the planned transition of Chicago’s Navy Pier from jumbled fairground into a more parklike setting; construction on the first phase of the renovation is slated to begin this fall. The new renderings reflect a more modest approach than the winning scheme of the competition for the Pier’s redevelopment, thanks to budgetary limitations. As part of a Gensler-headed Centennial Vision for a renovation of the pier to celebrate its hundredth anniversary in 2016, the JCFO winning proposal, ‘Pierscape,’ details refurbishment of historic structures such as the Crystal Gardens and the East End Park. In addition to updating existing buildings, the plan also proposes several lake pavilions designed by nArchitects, with recreational facilities such as an interactive water feature that will become a skating rink during winter months, as well as a planted promenade that will run the full 3,300-foot length of Navy Pier. The pier’s south side is currently home to tour boats, which will be relocated to open up views from a future south-facing grand stairway that JCFO principal and founder James Corner likened to Rome’s Spanish Steps in a recent Chicago Tribune article

Navy Pier was designed in 1909 as part of Daniel Burnham’s Master Plan of Chicago, and first opened in 1916 for use both as a commercial port and as a realm of public entertainment. During World War II, the Navy ran aviation training programs from the site; however, the pier was given its current moniker following World War I, when the Municipal Pier was renamed Navy Pier as a tribute to personnel who had served in the conflict. After years of neglect in the 1970s, Navy Pier was renovated and reopened in 1995; it now receives upwards of 8.6 million visitors per year, and Chicagoans hope to see that number increase with this latest redevelopment.

For more details and the latest renderings of the Navy Pier, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.