PierESCAPE / Aedas Architects, Davis Brody Bond and Martha Schwarz Partners

Courtesy of Navy Pier

Aedas Architects, Davis Brody Bond and Martha Schwartz Partners proposal PierESCAPE goes beyond the Navy Pier Centennial Vision as it aims to strengthen the connections between water, land, nature, city, culture, civic space and infrastructure with a “series of dock-like extensions”. The proposal respects the history of the Pier while identifying unique opportunities that will them to create a 21st century waterfront experience that is both a historical and contemporary destination.

Continue reading for more information and video of the team’s presentation.

PierESCAPE envisions Navy Pier as a world-class urban landscape that protects Lake Michigan, promotes economic growth and creates an escape for the people of . Entertainment, recreation, culture and ecology weave together to create places that are “exciting, enriching, and sustainable.” The Pier will offer an expanded list of activities and destinations that will appeal to the people of and tourists, enticing them to revisit the Pier again and again, throughout the year.

“Our goal will be to achieve a higher degree of integration between the Pierscape and all existing, new and proposed buildings”

Courtesy of Navy Pier

Key aspects of the design include:

  • Crossing the Waters into Gateway Park
  • Taking it over the edge into South Dock Park
  • Getting Up to Get Down at Pier Park
  • Going Through the Looking Glass in Crystal Garden
  • Taking the Plunge at East Edge Park
Courtesy of Navy Pier

As visitors cross the entry plaza threshold of the Wetland Stream, they are immediately confronted with a range of interactive spaces that commemorate the natural condition of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Gateway Plaza, the Bus Plaza and the Wetland Garden are the three main components that welcome visitors to Navy Pier.

Courtesy of Navy Pier

Referred to as the Porch, South Dock serves as the unifying public space that stretches the entire length of the Pier and connects it back to the city. It is the “route of procession” that docks all the program and activities. At night, slender stainless steel channels, known as “lightowers”, mimic the Chicago skyline and illuminate the pedestrian promenade. The South-facing pathway overlooks the floating gardens, a major civic space offered in this proposal.

Courtesy of Navy Pier

The gardens transform the city’s edge, creating a “greater fusion between infrastructure and the environment”, while accommodating for spaces of play, culture and relaxation. These series of iconic spaces create an intensified connection to the water with geometry inspired by the greater Chicago area. An existing wall of boats is removed and relocated into specified docking area, keeping the lakefront open, free and clear.

Courtesy of Navy Pier

A grand staircase brings you up to Pier Park. A complex mixture of rides, theaters, outdoor spaces and much more is integrated into an area focused on interactive play. A new topography in The Crystal Garden creates a wonderland of outdoor spaces that provide an “art exhibit of play”.

Courtesy of Navy Pier

The East Edge Park breaks the visitor away from the Pier and allows them to “take a plunge”. The lagoon features a year round public spa that allows people to directly interact with the lake, during any season. The wooden deck steps down into the water, creating a park during the summer and a space for ice skating during the winter.

Courtesy of Navy Pier

This complex, yet organized proposal even features a Pier Pod that would serve as both a “spectacle” and mode of transformation. This Gondola experience would not be included in the 85 million budget. Check out the entire proposal here.

January 31st PierESCAPE Presentation:

Be sure to check out Pier+ by AECOM and BIG. We will continue to update you with the rest of the proposals. Winners will be announced later this month.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "PierESCAPE / Aedas Architects, Davis Brody Bond and Martha Schwarz Partners" 07 Feb 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=205205>
  • Tosh

    I can never understand why piers are considered to be a good idea in general. It’s a space that is an end of a city. How many people “naturally” pass next to it? I can tell how many people pass through it naturally – none. Piers can’t become great income generators because they are dead ends and they are not centrally located. This is why piers always go bankrupt in time. They should be made into residential plots or non or low income recreational spaces.. that would be their best use.

    • http://gondolaproject.com julia

      I’m not sure about all piers, but in this case, Chicago’s Navy Pier is a huge tourist attraction and with these new design ideas I think it will only grow in popularity. No one “naturally” passes through piers, but they are on the water, which can be a draw, plus in Chicago you get a magnificent view of the skyline!

      What I like about this design is that it hit on the accessibility issue. Navy Pier is out of the way. The gondola is a cool aspect, but I think it could be taken one step further, and turned into a whole downtown lakefront system — from Navy Pier all the way down to McCormick Place.

      Here’s a link to the cable car design I’m talking about. http://gondolaproject.com/2012/02/08/a-cable-car-for-chicago/

    • William

      I think the idea of the whole project is to bring that area to be “alive” as what they said in the project brief …I can see a good opportunities in this project because by creating this project it will help to bring the city alive.
      As the idea of used the space for residential or low income recreational, is not a good idea that will create a social gap in a certain area.

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  • Jack M.

    Why not try and improve the existing pier walkway, rather than avoiding the question and building a whole load of zig zag boardwalks next to the pier…?

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