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With Spring Comes the Countdown to the New Riverwalk

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As of today, it's officially springtime in Chicago. And as residents begin their slow return to the outdoors, a new public space is just a few months away. The Chicago Riverwalk's extension has made significant progress as construction pushed on throughout the winter. The extension, which will eventually create one continuous and uninterrupted pathway from the Lakefront Trail to Lake Street hugs alongside Wacker Drive on the river's main branch. Construction has been broken down into three individual phases. The first phase which was completed in 2009, created under-bridge connections at Wabash and Michigan and brought the riverwalk westward two blocks to State Street. Phase 1 also included connecting the recently rebuilt area serving as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, created from the realignment of Wacker Drive during the reconstruction of the bi-level roadway.

Phase 2, which is currently underway included a new design and lots of fill to create new space on what was formerly open water between the abutments of each bridge crossing. The second phase stretches three blocks westward from State Street to LaSalle Street. Phase 3 which is set to begin construction in the not too distant future, will build out the remaining three blocks westward to Lake Street and the confluences of the river's three branches.

Phases 2 and 3 were designed by Sasaki Associates and Ross Barney Architects as a series of individual rooms on each block, with a different layout to be experienced as one walks the duration of the extension.

The block between State and Dearborn is to be known as The Marina — a wharf like design with a plaza that allows visitors to get close to the water's edge.

Workers sealing the bridgehouse — a thick coat of tar, then "architectural cloth." The walkway doesn't actually touch the bridge houses.

Dearborn to Clark is known as The Cove, another inlet type design which may serve as a launch point for kayak rentals in the future.

The space between Clark to Lasalle will be known as the River Theater. A grand staircase steps down from Upper Wacker to the riverwalk level, allowing for an open seating across the entire block like an open air amphitheater. Here we see the progression of formwork and rebar being laid for the staircase to soon take shape. The first image is from February 23 while the others are from March 17.

Stay tuned for the last of the floating pontoons of construction equipment to moved onto phase 3 as these three blocks head towards completion. An announcement regarding vender proposals is also expected to be made very soon.

Shawn Ursini

·Proposals for Chicago Riverwalk Vendor Space Due Next Week [Curbed Chicago]
·Here's How the Riverwalk Extension Will Change Chicago [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Chicago Riverwalk coverage [Curbed Chicago]