31st Street Harbor | Chicago USA | AECOM

IMAGE CREDIT | Scott Stevenson, Westrec

The 31st Street Harbor, one of the largest harbors built in Chicago in the last 50 years, transforms an underused portion of Lake Michigan lakeshore into a new public amenity. Unlike traditional harbors that are typically commercial ventures, this project took the approach of integrating the 1,000-slip marina with a park, melding high-tech engineering with thoughtful place-making.


The design concept was inspired by the historical, cultural and environmental conditions along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The force of wind was explored as a formative process in the landscape – shaping drifts, dunes and deposits for emerging ecologies – referencing the site’s past as a wind and water-formed dune landscape. Built partially on grade and partially as a green roof over a harbor services building, the new park and play space design provides for a variety of spatial experiences for users; including, a 63,300 SF accessible green roof, with a great lawn and spectacular views of the city, harbor and lake; naturalized garden edges and low water shoreline plantings, and enhanced waterfront promenade. The new playground has become a signature component of the development,
providing a vibrant gathering place for the South Side neighborhood.

IMAGE CREDIT | Scott Stevenson, Westrec

Rooting the project into the community and the Chicago lakefront fostered a design approach that could not look at sustainability solely in environmental terms. Rather, consideration of social and economic components was essential. The harbor serves as one of the Chicago Park District’s biggest revenue generators and does not isolate itself from its surroundings. In fact, this facility will not only help the fortunes of the redeveloping areas to the west, encouraging the construction of new homes and businesses, but also is becoming a destination for users of Chicago’s park system and the South Side community


31st Street Harbor | Chicago USA | AECOM
Lead Design Firm | AECOM
Project management, landscape architecture, coastal engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, underpass architecture, LEED consulting.

Architect (Harbor Services Building) | Brook Architecture
Landscape Architecture (Peninsula Park) | Site Design Group, Ltd.
MEP and structural engineering | Primera Engineers Ltd.
Parking Consulting & Structural Engineering | Desman Associates
Marina design | Edgewater Resources
Lighting design | Schuler Shook
Roof consulting | K2N Crest
Fountain design | Fountain Technologies
Land surveying | Ardmore Associates
Cost consulting | The Concord Group
Traffic engineering | Regina Webster & Associates

About Damian Holmes 3313 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/