More Change Planned For the Region’s Number One Tourist Attraction

Navy Pier expansion rendering (Courtesy of Navy Pier)

Navy Pier expansion rendering (Courtesy of Navy Pier)

The same people who brought New York its famous High Line have unveiled their latest vision for Navy Pier.

As we’ve noted before, renovation and expansion plans for Navy Pier aren’t exactly rare animals.  Sometimes it seems like you can set your clock by the semi-regular parade of proposals that come down the pike and, for the most part, fail to turn into anything real.  But the ‘Pier is getting more serious these days.

Renovation of the landside parks, designed by James Corner Field Operations, was recently completed.  A new ferris wheel opened at the beginning of this summer.  And a new $90 million hotel designed by Koo and Associates already has funding and will begin construction next year.  Also next year, the AS+GG-designed addition to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is expected to come online.

This week, the public was re-acquainted with Navy Pier’s big plans, and clued in to some new ideas.  Among them are more restaurants throughout the complex, a semi-underground pavilion on the city side, and an elevated walkway and pool at the eastern end of the pier.

The walkway is envisioned as a large curving walkway that bulges slightly over Lake Michigan.  It may finally give people a way to take good photographs of Navy Pier without being on a very large boat.  Between the walkway and the pier is a rectangular pool of water.  Whether is pays homage to Lake Michigan or mocks it is an exercise for the reader.

On the landside, if you like the way that AECOM and Desman Associates hid the new 31st Street Harbor parking garage beneath a landscaped slope, you’ll also enjoy the 4,000 square foot “welcome pavilion” proposed for the never-quite-right park in front of Navy Pier.  See also: the new Pioneer Court Apple Store, and the former Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse.

While the Pier’s continuing plans to remake itself are encouraging since they’re actually coming to fruition, this latest round of drawings lack funding or a timeline to turn them into reality.





Location: 600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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