Detailed design for Navy Pier unveiled

A detailed design for Navy Pier has been unveiled more than one year after James Corner Field Operations was selected by The Navy Pier Inc. (NPI) Board to help reimagine Navy Pier’s public spaces, an effort designated as “Pierscape.”. Due to budget constraints, gone are some design elements including the floating swimming pool with sand beach. The detailed design has pleased stakeholders with the carnival feel to be replaced by a more park like  design.

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 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.

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 expandedChicago Children’s Museum, expected to open in 2016.

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.

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.

IMAGES | James Corner Field Operations – Courtesy of Navy Pier Inc
TEXT after the break – Navy Pier Inc

About Damian Holmes 3085 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

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