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James Corner Field Operations Team Wins Navy Pier Competition

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Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations
Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

Today, the Chicago Tribune has reported James Corner Field Operations Team has been selected to redesign the 3,000 foot-long Chicago landmark, Navy Pier. Blair Kamin stated that the pier’s governing board approved the recommendation from the pier’s strategic planning committee to hire the JFCO team as they favored the team’s practical, yet still creative approach over the other, somewhat grandiose, schemes. It has been a big week for JCFO, as James Corner and Rich Scofidio’s latest ideas for the third section of the High Line were released on Tuesday. Continue reading for more information on the latest news regarding the winners of the international Navy Pier redesign competition.

“They dreamed big, but they were able to do it in a way we could pay for it,” said Sarah Garvey, chairwoman of Navy Pier, Inc.

After a unanimous vote in favor of the JCFO Team, board members highlighted the fact that they were selecting a designer and not necessarily a completed design. Other ideas may be selected from the other four submissions. The pier’s trustee, James Reilly, expressed his desire to execute the changes to the pier’s public spaces before its 2016 centennial. Officials hope that the redesign will boost the piers attendance and attract more visitors year-round.

During the public presentations, Corner insisted the $85 million budget would cover the redesign and the plans for Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. However, as Blair Kamin reports, funds are tight. Officials have $60 million of “seed capital” funds to carry our centennial-related projects. Funds were provided by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the state-city agency that owns the McCormick Place convention center as well as the pier.

With a chunk of that cash dedicated to revamp the pier’s Family Pavilion and the expansions of the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Corner may only have around $15 million to work with in the first phase of the public space redesign. However, officials are continuously pushing to bring in more capital for the project.

The winning proposal aims to create a sensory-based, lakeside experience that will re-activate engagement and enjoyment of the water. Check out ArchDaily’s complete design overview of the JCFO Pierscape.

Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations
Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

The JCFO 17-member team includes four Chicagoan representatives, Terry Guen Design Associates, the landscape firm whose credits include Millennium Park; art gallery owner and art fair organizer Ed Marszewski; Primera Chicago, a civil engineering firm; and the construction management firm d’Escoto.


Lead / Urban Design / Landscape Architecture: James Corner Field Operations Architects: nArchitects Artist/ Light Installation: Leo Villareal Identity, Communication and Graphic Design: Bruce Mau Design Lighting Design: L’Observatoire International Water Feature Design and Engineering: Fluidity Green Wall and Botanical Specialist: Patrick Blanc Grass Specialist: John Greenlee & Associates Event Planning: Chris Wangro Local Landscape Architecture: Terry Guen Design Associates Art Curation and Planning: Ed Marszewski Industrial Design: Billings Jackson Structural & Environmental Engineering: Buro Happold MEP & Civil Engineering: Primera Chicago Real Estate & Financial Strategists: HR&A Advisors Public Space Management: ETM Associates

In case you missed it, check out the these other four proposals that were beat-out by the Corner Team:

Cite:Karissa Rosenfield. "James Corner Field Operations Team Wins Navy Pier Competition" 15 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>