Chicago’s Historic Navy Pier

As a centennial vision initiative of the historic Navy Pier in Chicago, pier authority explored the potentials of reinstating a spectacular tourist harbor through a design competition. Among a quite number of proposals and five finalists, HOK succeeded to satisfy the requirements of the desired public concourse and was assigned to materialize the long anticipated Chicago icon. The proposed design includes landmarks and innovative tourist attraction spots which eminently turn it into an ambitious example of ingenuity and innovation.

Currently, many people living in Chicago have the impression that Navy Pier is a far-off destination rather than a place to visit routinely“, observed by Team !melk.

Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

The plan is conceptually based on the geological history of the site in order to provide dynamic opportunities for a cultural landmark. The masterplan starts from the west through a vibrant plaza alias the ‘Gateway Plaza’, flanked by 90-feet tall enlightened spires serving as monumental threshold to the southern promenade. Induced greenery and patterned surfaces form a network of park-like moments as integrated urban settings.

Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

Zigzagged boardwalks assist the curved platforms of the southern promenade to explore along the wave. Team !melk studied and mapped the series of topographic waves and curls which result in a variety of ways to experience the grade between the pier and the water. Sloping curls inspired by the sublime nature of Great lakes ascends to the playful Shikakwa Gardens. Shikakwa, the ancient name of Chicago by the native Indian Americans, is designed at the central point to whisk the surprising moments of open and enclosed spaces along the water edge. The exotic plants and sculptural elements garnish the interior garden while a mini-golf course and water playland refurbish the exteriors. All the enhancements are developed around the iconic Ferris wheel, reconstructed and enlarged as a tribute to the original wheel of 1893. The wheel is elevated upwards in order to permit visitors’ movement underneath it.

Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

The receded glaciers formed entangled water bodies, which contributed to the inspiration of designing the Eastern Edge of Lake Michigan. The kettle- shaped pit is a pool area which is alternatively used as an ice skating rink during colder seasons. The dock descends into the balcony of submerged windows, directed towards the floating piers and underwater sculpture garden where local fauna and fish lives their own pastoral life. The opportunity of education and recreation is sensitively designed to sustain all year long. The city’s new icon dramatically integrates natural and urban elements with the ancient topographic history.

Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

The entire proposal successfully carried out sustainability issues through environmental and economic facts. The water from the Lake is engaged in cooling the pier in summer while adding some warmth in winter. A net-zero-energy consumption and carbon emission ensure greater environment friendliness. The major aim of the project is to bring the Chicago Navy Pier back as a daily consequence of the everyday life for the Chicagoans in order to generate public and civic enthusiasm. The comfortable year-round tourist destination plan ensures increased activity in traditional off-seasons which will add up to economic growth. Although the pool to amphitheater terrain design is literally budget-bursting, the spectacular appearance of the visual representation already attracted quite a large sum of donations and corporate sponsorship.

Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

Currently, the construction work has started for Chicago’s new preeminent exclamation point which found a way to unify the physical history with mental topography.

Project Information:
Architect : !melk, HOK and UrbanLab
Location : Chicago, Illinois, USA
Project Year : 2014- late 2016
Design Team : led by !melk, HOK and UrbanLab, included TGDA, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, LeniSchwendinger Light Projects, Thirst, HR&A, Conservation Design Forum, Sam Schwartz Engineering, CMS Fountain Consultants, Zoe Ryan and Karin Bacon Enterprises.
Client : Chicago Navy Pier Authorities

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