The Temperature is Rising
Pleased to read of these projects going forward despite the city’s budgetary woes. Investing in infrastructure is nearly always worth the expense, in the long run.
Several major projects remain on the city’s lakefront docket, aiming to complete the makeover that began nearly a decade ago and create an unbroken, 3-mile stretch of green jewels. Up first is a do-over for Navy Pier. Remade just a decade and a half ago for $225 million, the current version is widely seen as a pavement-heavy, retail-dominated tourist trap.
The new scheme, shaped by the pier’s owners and Gensler design, envisions new green spaces, sculptures and pools to go along with a redesign of the shopping arcade and family pavilion. A design competition is underway. Several favorites – including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and local architect and recent MacArthur “genius” winner Jeanne Gang – have already been eliminated.
The finalists, announced a couple months ago, include James Corner, designer of the High Line, the Danish firm BIG, and Chicago up-and-comer UrbanLab, which won several awards for its visionary Growing Water proposal a couple years ago.
The winning design is to be announced in mid-February, after a public viewing period of the finalists’ proposals, starting February 2. The project, which is scheduled for completion for the pier’s 100th anniversary, is budgeted around $200 million.
Just west of the pier, the Navy Pier Flyover is set to begin construction this year at a cost of $50 million. An elevated overpass for bikers and pedestrians, the flyover will increase safety and reduce the bottleneck on the busiest section of the lakefront trail, near Grand Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Plans also include ramps and pathways leading to the pier itself and nearby DuSable Park.
A new section of Grant Park is also in the offing. New York architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has laid out a detailed plan for the $30 million remaking of the park’s north end, expected to begin this fall. It includes a climbing mountain, a skating ribbon, rather than a rink, and a handful of meandering trails, green spaces and sculptures. The work should be completed in 2015.
(click here to continue reading A Green Revolution in Chicago – Design – The Atlantic Cities.)
Little Shop of Industrial Horror
and slightly more on the Grant Park project:
Long-awaited designs for renovating north Grant Park finally were unveiled at a recent meeting conducted by Gia Biaggi, director of park planning for the Chicago Park District. The meeting was one of several public gatherings sponsored by the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) over the last 18 months.
The project will transform Grant Park between Randolph and Monroe Streets and from Columbus Drive east to the Cancer Survivors Garden. It grew out of the need to replace the interior of the Monroe Garage, which supports Daley Bicentennial Plaza. With the garage closed, workers have almost completed the interior work. In Phase II, they will repair the garage roof; because of its position below the park and beneath the plaza, they must remove almost 20 acres of park land to complete this phase.
“We decided on a new park design because of this,” said Bob O’Neill, GPC president. “We will begin breaking ground in the fall of 2012 and remove the garage when summer is over. Hopefully, they’ll start doing the park in 2013 and open in the spring of 2015. It’s an enormous project, but to do it right, we can’t do it any faster.”
The park will offer a variety of unusual amenities, to make it attractive to as many people as possible. The project budget is about $30 million, but O’Neill would like it increased by another $20 million from corporate and private sponsorship. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architecture firm chosen to design the project, strives for environmentally sustainable landforms offering “fluidity.”
One amenity under consideration is a waterfall that would become a wall of ice in winter. Van Walkenburgh explained his philosophy that a park can provide more than a network of paths by introducing rolling landforms that create diverse usage; have naturalistic planting; mitigate noise, wind, and sun for comfort; and offer untraditional play areas for children.
He wants to make “one of the very best playgrounds that America has” for kids in North Grant Park. Besides the traditional swings and play equipment, he plans to create innovative play spaces using green materials and nature to encourage exploration and imagination and add diversity to children’s enjoyment. The firm will fill the park predominantly with green space, water, natural materials, and landforms winding around and flowing naturally through the park.
Sculptures scattered throughout the winding paths will enhance the experience. North Grant Park will be both active and passive.
The active area will allow visitors to interact with the environment, explore nature, and “roll in the grass and play in the snow,” Van Walkenburgh said. The current design includes a climbing wall and ice skating; a circuit of trails will allow people of all ages to wander among trees and engage in imaginative play.
Passive enjoyment will come from benches allowing visitors to rest, observe, and “feel one with nature,” he said. “The intention is to mix it up and give people choices.” Van Valkenburgh noted the park’s urban component, an important feature that will offer cafes, beer gardens, green markets, and places where people of all ages can gather.
(click here to continue reading Gazette Chicago » Officials reveal Grant Park renovation plans to public.)
Some Kinda Bubble Boy
The bike trail gets pretty funky by Navy Pier, especially on a warm, summer day, so this is good news.
The Navy Pier Flyover, a proposed overpass that’s been touted as a safety boon for bikers and pedestrians on the heavily-traveled lakefront trail, is slated to get a big chunk of money that could make the project a reality.
The proposal envisions a half-mile bridge that would deliver walkers and pedalers across the Chicago River and over a thorny intersection at Grand Avenue and the lower level of Lake Shore Drive. Just west of Navy Pier, the junction is widely known as a magnet for high-risk traffic, channeling thousands of day commuters and tourists by the hour.
Running 18 miles in total, the trail begins at Hollywood Avenue on the city’s North Side and reaches down to 71st Street on the South Side. But the area near Navy Pier is one of the busiest parts of the whole path, and most in need of help, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele.
The flyover project, passed before the city’s plan commission in February, currently touts a price tag of $49.1 million. Part of that bill could be footed if the proposal makes its way into the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, a federally-funded reimbursement initiative that is managed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and aimed at tackling transit-pollution issues in the region. CMAP, which oversees infrastructure and transportation projects in Northeastern Illinois, is considering forking over $11.3 million to help with the construction of the bridge in two phases. That’s just one of 350 applications — totaling requests of over $1.8 billion — that the agency is currently reviewing. The program has between $350 and $400 million dollars to dole out for projects running through 2016.
(click here to continue reading Congested lakeshore path could get cash for a revamp near Navy Pier | News | Skyline.)