2030 Goal: Iconic riverfront destinations

Chris Bentley

The striking architecture of the recently completed boathouse at Clark Park draws people to a part of the river they may not have noticed before.

In the tradition established by the Riverwalk, Ping Tom Park, and the boat houses at River Park, Clark Park and Eleanor Street, iconic destinations will abound along the rivers for active recreation and large events.

In some instances these destinations will repurpose existing infrastructure and buildings as the backdrops and setting for new uses. As major riverfront properties—the old Chicago Post Office, Chicago Union Station, dormant grain silos at Damen Avenue on the Chicago River, DuSable Park, the northwestern corner of Lake Calumet, Fay’s Point, capped landfills along the Calumet and the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility—move toward development or redevelopment, there should be a concerted effort to create vibrant, iconic attractions for Chicagoans and visitors alike. The greatest design and architectural minds in Chicago and beyond, as well as the creative spirit and local know-how of area residents, will be brought to bear on these sites through frequent design challenges and studio-based workshops that inform development proposals and implementation. The resulting innovation in design also will support community visions and empower neighborhood stewardship.

Making it happen

  • Initiate a visioning and planning process for the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility at the mouth of the Calumet River, a rare opportunity for a park destination that is simultaneously riverfront and lakefront.
  • Develop a priority list of opportunities for iconic attractions on public or private land, and place-based visions for future development.
  • Where possible, link requests for proposals for development of publicly-owned sites to these visions.
  • Engage the performing art, design, architectural and creative community in an ongoing dialogue about aspirations and constraints for activating riverfront.

Key players

Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, Chicago Park District, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Architecture Foundation, design and performing arts community

Our rivers, our role

Encourage groups such as the Chicago Architecture Foundation, American Institute of Architects or Illinois Institute of Technology to host design competitions for rethinking major riverfront properties.

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