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In All Likelihood, 'High Line' Architect will Redesign Navy Pier

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UPDATE: Navy Pier's governing board has unanimously chosen the Corner team to redesign the pier, reports Blair Kamin. The board reminded that the design is still in a flexible stage, and elements of the other four finalists may be incorporated in the finished product.

Let's hope we're not jumping the gun here, but, with Blair Kamin's insider sources indicating the near-certain selection of the design team led by landscape architect James Corner as the savior of Navy Pier, we're going to run with it. Corner was co-designer of NYC's High Line, and so, the world is aware of his capabilities. But in order to achieve on-the-ground results that rival the High Line, his team may need major kick-ins from private entities, despite Corner's insistence to the contrary. At most, $85M in public funds are available, but there are complications in how that gets spent, with expansions of the Shakespeare Theater and Children's Museum already taking a cut.

A 17-member collaborative effort, the Corner team vision for the more-than-half-mile-long pier can best be summed up by its organization into a string of "social rooms" that, according to the design video below, "relate to the existing building functions extending internal activities outward". They amount to an "ensemble of dramatic places, coherently organized and interconnected". Sounds buzzy, right? Well, it makes a lot of sense since most of the functions of the pier are staying put, i.e. the Children's Museum, Crystal Gardens, Ferris Wheel, Shakespeare Theater, etc. The team set out to improve the spaces around those anchors. They also deferred to the pier's thin contours in addressing outdoor space, deftly locating new attractions like the pool/skating rink, terraced seating, and plantings within the existing footprint.

The lean design dispenses with grandiosity (there's no 'glacial shards' to be found). That should keep costs in check, to a degree. The pier's strategic planning committee will recommend Corner's team to the the board of Navy Pier, Inc. today. The board is expected to follow the committee's recommendations. Hungry for more? Then check out the team's full presentation, here. Let the fun begin!
·Navy Pier aims high: High Line's landscape architect expected to be selected to redesign public spaces of lakefront icon [Cityscapes]
·Navy Pier Redesign Competition: Final Drawings Emerge [Curbed Chicago]

Navy Pier design concept by James Corner Field Operations [source: youtube]