The city has officially announced the beginning of a design contest for its new Lighting Framework Plan (LFP) initiative that could turn parts of downtown Chicago into a lighting spectacle in hopes of boosting tourism. Announced in January by the mayor's office, the plan is to add ornamental lighting installations to popular downtown tourist destinations, and perhaps even some in the neighborhoods. According to a presentation released by the mayor's office and Choose Chicago, the city believes that the lighting initiative could be the key to hit 55 million tourists annually by 2020:
"Chicago has a rich history of innovation, events, architecture, museums, and festivals yet these are not reflected in how the rest of the world views Chicago. A world class lighting installation has the potential to change this perception of visitors as well as elevate the daily experience of Chicago residents". Some of the sites that could become the focus of lighting installations in the near future include the Chicago Riverwalk, iconic structures like the Merchandise Mart and Millennium Park, downtown bridges, the L, and Lower Wacker Drive. According to the city, successful proposals will include sustainability features, contrast between lightness and darkness, installations that will provide a "holistic tourist experience", energy innovations and installations that are sensitive to bird migration.
One interesting note is that parties who seek to submit a bid for the "international design competition" have only until July 7 to get their proposals completed and submitted. The city had four months to announce the project, and are only providing a month for candidates to submit their bids. Some believe the city may already have a contractor picked out and that the design contest is only for show.
Either way, the plan remains controversial, and certainly has some ardent critics as the Sun-Times points out. The city plans to host a pre-submittal conference on June 13 at City Hall.
·Request for Concept Design Proposals for a City-Wide Lighting Framework Plan - Spec # 124831 [City of Chicago]
·Emanuel launches design competition to create a 'city of lights' [Sun-Times]
·This is an International Competition? Chicago issues Bid Documents for proposals to create "North America's City of Lights" [Chicago Architecture Plus]
·Chicago's Riverwalk To Be The Next Times Square? [Curbed Chicago]