james corner field operations wins navy pier competition
james corner field operations wins navy pier competition james corner field operations wins navy pier competition
mar 20, 2012

james corner field operations wins navy pier competition

‘pierscape’ by james corner field operations, chicago, illinois all images courtesy of the navy pier vision

new york-based practice james corner field operations wins the navy pier competition, a redesign of the existing structure and tourist destination designed by daniel burnham to connect the people of chicago, illinois with lake michigan. positioned near the magnificent mile and cultural amenities, the plan links the elongated promenade into the urban fabric with a series of artist media and light installations to lead pedestrians under the elevated portion of lake shore drive. the sequence of social rooms and event spaces will improve the progression to the lakefront while expanding the network of social spaces and attractions within the city.

as visitors leave the city, they will encounter a series of active areas including the gateway park, children’s museum, crystal garden, pier park, east end park and north dock, beginning as sheltered spaces and becoming more open as they move towards the water to overlook the horizon. clearly defining an entry point, an atmosphere of mystery and discovery falls upon the individuals as they embark upon an unexpected journey. reducing the current vehicular conditions, the front porch’s plaza, lawns and promenade will support festivals, art works and social functions while placing bicyclists and pedestrians as priority.

new entry plaza and grand lawn

restaurants, boat access and entertainment venues are placed along terraces within the linear planking which parallels the docks, visually subdivided with exposed concrete bands. the singular material is diversified by shifting and then changing surface textures to create a varied experience. the south dock is vegetated and furnished, with multifunctional posts offering light, sound, signage and misted water. large pavilions to protect from weather will host smaller kiosks and delicately glow at night. an interior garden with hanging vegetal pods covered with ferns, mosses and vines or holding waterfalls and birds will host weddings, shows and parties. the planters may be elevated like chandeliers or placed on ground level for a forest-like grotto. the south-west side of the pier will introduce a floating pool with a sand beach along the lake with wooden stairs oriented towards the sun.

‘hidden nature’ along the northern edge of the pier will contain an ecosystem which can be supported by local institutions including the lincoln park zoo, shedd aquarium or peggy notebaart nature museum. supporting algae, birdlife and rockfish, the masterplan can also improve the ecological value of the pier.

south dock promenade

the promenade is subdivided with vegetation and textures into individual rooms

re-envisioned ferris wheel and swings

re-envisioned crystal garden

interior of glass greenhouse with hanging vegetal pods

south dock pier promenade subdivided with three linear bands

lakeview steps offer seating looking back towards the city skyline

aerial view of the existing and rehabilitated pier building

view of the lake room, pier and skyline from the lake

the floating pool near the end of the pier

pool area used for ice skating during winter

during navy pier’s summer fireworks display

at night

at night

multifunctional posts diagram

ferris wheel, swings and carousel rehabilitation

hanging vegetal pods diagram

video courtesy of navy pier chicago

  • A great vision for the city of Chicago!

    ytak says:
  • I’m from Chicago. Looking forward to this awesome redesign. Especially like the floating pool that turns into ice skating in the winter. We will have choices for our ice skating now! Awesome vision and work.

    katie keller says:
  • well, whoop-de-doo…

    dbkii says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
501,541 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample