Those familiar with Chicago know that its famous Navy Pier is a true cultural landmark. The Pier regularly attracts families on the weekends, is the staging ground for community events, and is a great place to just take a nice evening stroll and enjoy the cool breeze coming off Lake Michigan. Despite the popularity of the pier, city officials are looking to give the nearly 100-year-old landmark a facelift. To that end, they have proposed PierESCAPE, a group of dock-like extensions that will enhance the Navy Pier.
The city invited designers from around the world to submit ideas for their pier. The design firm Aedas won the competition and will be leading the construction of the pier.
Aedas’ design is a subtle one, as it attempts to revitalize the area while paying homage to the area’s historical context. It integrates many of the pier’s most famous buildings instead of tearing them down, and adds dock-like extensions to make room for newer, more modern regions. Best of all, Aedas intends to do all of this while striving to keep Lake Michigan clean. The project will be fairly green with parks, lines of trees, and floating gardens along the pier that will both beautify and improve the ecological health of the coastal region.
One of the most charming features of the design is the series of what can only be described as “street lamps” that line the pier. Rather than following the traditional design of a bulb at the end of a pole, these lamps use lines of tubes of light to loosely mimic Chicago’s iconic skyline. So, even as Aedas will be adding, changing, and redesigning the Navy Pier into a much more modernized version, the pier will not lose its inherent Chicago-ness. I would have to say that Aedas’ deft touch was much more appropriate than taking a wrecking ball to the whole place to make room for shopping centers and restaurant chains.
Once completed, it looks as though Navy Pier version 2.0 will continue to be a vibrant and publicly adored feature of the city.