Reclaimed waterfront that transforms the river into Chicago’s next great civic park.

Phases 2 & 3 of Chicago’s Riverwalk transformed underutilized waterfront infrastructure into five distinct “rooms” connecting riverside amenities to the city. The project faced the technical challenge of lowering the Riverwalk to the river’s edge to enable boating and water recreation while creating a sustainable, flood-resilient landscape. While design elements and materials provide a strong sense of continuity along the path, each of the five waterfront blocks offers a unique shape and programmatic approach to exploring the relationship between the river and the city. New waterfront amenities include art installations and events, educational programs and interpretive signage, restaurants and outdoor seating, kayak rentals, and piers and floating wetland gardens for interactive learning about the river’s ecology. The $95 million project covers 3.5 acres and was completed in October 2016. 

Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence staff are developing case studies on the 2017 Medalists that will be published online and in a book in 2018. Each detailed case study will include information about the project’s history, community partners, design and development, financing, and impact, along with highlights from the selection committee discussion. RBA publications and case studies are a great resource for educators, practitioners, and students. In the meantime, to learn more about Chicago Riverwalk read the blog post about our site visit.