New York-based James Corner Field Operations is having a good week. Following the unveiling of the firm’s phase-three plans for New York City’s High Line, it has been selected to lead the redesign of Chicago’s Navy Pier. Corner bested five finalists from an initial group of 52 submissions.
Dubbed 'Pierscape,' the team’s design adds water features, public art, and lighting enhancements to the public spaces along the length of the 3,300-foot-long structure. Prominent new features at the pier include redefining the existing Crystal Gardens as the “Magic Room,” the Pier Park as the “ Fun Room,” and East End Park as the “Lake Room.” The South Dock, which stretches most of the pier’s length, will receive so-called "bands” that will define three layers of the project: terraces, promenades, and edges. The lake end of the pier is slated to receive a large swimming pool that will encourage recreational uses not presently supported by the massive lakefront amenity.
Navy Pier president and CEO Marilynn Gardner stresses that the design is a only framework plan for the pier. “Initial concepts are rarely, if ever, the end-product themselves,” Gardner says. “But this process will ensure that the Pier is transformed into a truly wonderful public space that appeals to a more diverse audience than it has been.”
Navy Pier Inc. hasn’t confirmed the budget for the project, previously reported at $85 million. Design plans are still in their beginning stages, but the pier’s management expects to begin fundraising to increase available monies for design execution.
The James Corner Field Operations–led team includes a variety of well-known consultants, including Terry Guen Design Associates, Ed Marszewski, Patrick Blanc, Buro Happold, and Bruce Mau Design.
Navy Pier was first proposed as part of Daniel Burnham’s famed 1909 Plan of Chicago. Its most recent reconstruction as a festival marketplace was completed in 1995 by AIA Gold Medal winner Benjamin Thompson and Chicago’s VOA Associates. Since then, it has consistently been the biggest draw for tourists in the state of Illinois, with 8 million annual visitors. The current transformation is being planned as part of the pier’s “Centennial Vision,” with the hope that renovations can be completed in time for the structure’s 100th anniversary in 2016.