Abitare – “Living on the Riverbank”

The May 2017 Abitare cover story features the Chicago Riverwalk and catalogs the state of outdoor space.

The new issue is dedicated to stories and projects related to outdoor activities and infrastructure, featuring work by Ross Barney Architects, BIG, 3XN, Oppenheim Architecture, Ballistic Architecture Machine, Dissing+Weitling, Glenn Howells Architects, Moederscheim Moonen Architects, and Schiattarella & Associati.

“A titanic undertaking of engineering reversed its flow (the only time this has ever been done in the world, and it was back in 1900), in order to stop discharging industrial effluent and the city’s sewage into Lake Michigan and divert them into the Mississippi instead: ever since then the Chicago River has had an eventful, and at times troubled history. Thanks to the Ross Barney Architects studio, which has been working with the municipality for the last 15 years on regenerating the connection between the river’s waters and the urban fabric, a new chapter in this story could finally be opening today…

Linking two crucial parts of the city – the commercial district to the north and the financial one to the south – the Chicago Riverwalk has acquired a strategic role in the urban fabric. It is a project that is part of a growing trend, that of turning old industrial infrastructures into new types of urban parks, like the Promenade Plantee in Paris or the High Line in New York. The end result is a civic space in which two core functions – transit corridor / promenade and place of rest / relaxation – coexist and interpenetrate harmoniously. ‘And what is extraordinary,’ Carol Ross Barney continues with satisfaction, ‘ is not just the popularity that the Riverwalk has attained in these years and still more in the last few months, when it has developed into a genuine urban lounge, but also the fact that our intervention has inspired a whole series of other projects on the banks of the river, like the River Ride, a future floating cycle track stretehing for 10 kilometers, or the refurbishment of Navy Pier, the largest public structure of its kind in the world, or again the light show on the shore scheduled for this summer. And even our own involvement will not stop here.’ The declaration of intent and full calendar of objectives (all the way up to 2040!) that the Metropolitan Planning Council has drawn up with stakeholders and local associations are presented in a report titled Great Rivers Chicago, and it suggests that the domino effect will go on for a long time.”

Read more from the May issue of Abitare at abitare.it.