A pedestrian park providing access to the river and new waterfront amenities.

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.

This project has been selected as a finalist for the 2017 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. In February, March, April, and May RBA staff will begin site visits to each finalist project in preparation for the committee’s selection of the medal winners in June. A Metropolis magazine POV blog series will document these visits, giving readers close-up experiences with each of the sites. Findings and lessons learned will be relayed through detailed case studies and published on this site and in book form in 2018 as a resource for educators, practitioners, and students.