Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibit envisions the future of the Riverwalk

A floating ecology classroom, a boating raceway, and an audiovisual performance space are among the 27 visionary ideas for Chicago’s riverfront by the River Edge Ideas Lab exhibit unveiled today by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), nine participating architects and other partners and funders.

Part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the River Edge Ideas Lab features development concepts from world-class architectural firms for three iconic locations: the Civic Opera House waterfront; beneath the Congress Parkway bridge; and below the St. Charles Air Line Bridge. Each location represents a unique challenge to the Riverwalk’s potential 1.8-mile extension from the main branch to Ping Tom Park in Chinatown.

Participating River Edge Ideas Lab architects include Adjaye Associates, James Corner Field Operations, Perkins+Will, Ross Barney Architects, Sasaki, site, SOM, Studio Gang, and SWA.

Beginning Saturday, the firms’ design concepts for each location are on display at Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St, through Jan. 8, 2018. The public is invited to provide feedback at the exhibit or at The 27 visions will be posted on that site Saturday.

“With the success of our Riverwalk and the four new boathouses we’ve built throughout the City, we’ve begun to transform our river into the next recreational frontier, but there is more work to be done,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This bold initiative will help us imagine new possibilities to further develop our riverfront in ways that will benefit current and future generations of Chicagoans.”

DPD will incorporate public feedback from the River Edge Ideas Lab into updated River Design Guidelines in 2018. The updated guidelines will offer best practices to create a continuous pedestrian and bicycle path with accessible connections and open spaces incorporating integrated landscaping, artwork and lighting.

A traveling version of the River Edge exhibit will open Monday, Sept. 18 at the Bridgehouse Museum at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, followed by a new location every two weeks.

Special gallery talks and panel discussions involving architects and planners are also scheduled during the four-month exhibition.

Further details on these events can be found at the Ideas Lab website.