Financial Times - "Riverwalk: complex, urbane and intriguing"

July 02, 2017
Chicago Riverwalk 23
Chicago’s new River­walk could, in its way, be com­pared to New York’s High Line, both of which are mod­est plans for the reuse and pedes­tri­an­iza­tion of exist­ing indus­tri­al infra­struc­ture to cre­ate a traf­fic-free pub­lic space in con­gest­ed city cen­ters. They are both about the same length, around a mile and a half. But build­ing the High Line (now such a suc­cess that it has become almost impass­able), was a cake­walk com­pared with the Riverwalk.

The seem­ing­ly sim­ple aim of cre­at­ing a walk­way along the Chica­go Riv­er has tak­en 16 years (so far), involved leg­is­la­tion enact­ed through Con­gress and a com­plex series of approvals from the Army Corps of Engi­neers and the US Coast Guard. As well as about $80 m raised by the city’s mayor…

The end result is com­plex, urbane and intrigu­ing. The sec­tions between each bridge are treat­ed, accord­ing to archi­tect Car­ol Ross Bar­ney as a series of rooms’.

To each room is attrib­uted a slight­ly dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter, expressed through mate­r­i­al, form and func­tion. One, for instance, is con­ceived as an audi­to­ri­um with a series of steps and has been suc­cess­ful­ly used for free pub­lic events; one as a gar­den with plants moored in the water; anoth­er as a Water Plaza’ with foun­tains for kids to splash in. In anoth­er room’ the lev­el of the walk­way descends right down to the water’s edge to facil­i­tate kayak­ing, and a new boat rental pavil­ion has appeared at street lev­el to lure cit­i­zens and tourists to the water…

Chica­go is per­haps the most archi­tec­tural­ly aware city on earth, and cer­tain­ly one of the first to rec­og­nize mod­ern archi­tec­ture as burst­ing with poten­tial for mass tourism. The Chica­go Archi­tec­ture Foundation’s cruis­es take in stun­ning land­marks from Bertrand Goldberg’s Mari­na Bay City and the Wrigley Build­ing to the vast Art Deco Mer­chan­dise Mart along­side its new­er towers. 

Read the full arti­cle here.
See the full project here.

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